Does Eclipse need Sun

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2005-05-20 Print this article Print

?"> Asked how important it would be to have Sun as a member, Milinkovich said: "Its not. From my perspective I dont want a member of Eclipse that doesnt want to be here. Im not focused on, and the Eclipse Foundation is not focused on figuring how to recruit Sun. "Were figuring out how to make our community better and how to grow our community. And its not in any way meant to take away from anything that Sun is doing, or take away from the Sun-sponsored Java community. Were not focused on hurting them; were focused on helping us. And if Sun decides its in their business interest to join, then absolutely."
Yet, the overwhelming success of Eclipse could put it at odds with Java standards organizations, some observers said.
"Im concerned Eclipse is becoming a standardization process itself," Murphy said. Milinkovich dismissed this. "When I look at Sun I see three," Milinkovich said. "Theres Sun the platform provider, theres Sun the steward of the JCP, and theres Sun the NetBeans project. Sun the platform, if they want Sun ONE to be successful they should encourage Eclipse tooling for it. That makes sense. Sun as the JCP, we have no argument with the JCP whatsoever. We implement JCP standards, and we see ourselves as being complementary with the JCP. Sun the NetBeans … well, to the degree that open-source projects can compete, we compete. But I think thats a good thing." Moreover, when the Eclipse Foundation was about to go independent last year, Sun sent an open letter to the membership offering its help and listing suggestions. A year later, Eclipse management said Sun has yet to actually propose or deliver anything to Eclipse. Click here to read "Sun: Secret Negotiations on Eclipse Continue." In fact, some Eclipse members even questioned whether Sun should be offering help at all when its own approach to open source, at least where Java is concerned, has been lukewarm. For instance, Sun released new Java licensing models this spring that the company said approach open source, but observers say dont go far enough. "Sun is being greedy," said Anne Thomas Manes, an analyst with Burton Group Inc. "They want the benefits of open source—getting vast hordes of developers to contribute fixes and new ideas to the Java code base for free—but they arent willing to actually contribute source code to the research/open-source community." Eric Raymond, an open-source advocate and consultant from Malvern, Pa., who Sun called to help draft its open-source strategy for Solaris, said of the latest Java licensing moves: "These latest moves seem confused, timid and rather stupid. My guess is theyre the results of a political compromise between warring pro- and anti-open-source factions inside the company." Meanwhile, Sun claims its open-source legacy speaks for itself. But, for its part, Cramer said Sun is "extremely committed to NetBeans." And while there will be no NetBeans equivalent to EclipseCon, Sun plans to have a NetBeans Day at this years JavaOne next month in San Francisco, he said. Perhaps the biggest challenge Eclipse faces is that of handling its own success and growing despite it. "I know were going to grow and were going to continue to grow in a lot of different dimensions," Milinkovich said. "A successful future for Eclipse would be that we repeat our success with other projects." Added Murphy: "NetBeans may be better, but it is the BetaMax in this race, and the tape format is driving where the machine goes." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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