Eclipse Seeks Sunny Future

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-07-16 Print this article Print

Any new projects in the works? There are several recently announced project proposals at Eclipse that I find particularly interesting.
The Rich AJAX Platform [RAP] project is bringing RCP-style plug-in development to the AJAX [Asynchronous JavaScript and XML] world. RAP users will be able to develop browser-deployed AJAX applications in Java, using the Eclipse plug-in architecture, and deploy them to existing Java EE enterprise architectures. For a lot of developers, this is going to be a very attractive solution.
Im also excited about the Eclipse Persistence Services [EPS] and SOA Runtime [SOA RT] projects because theyre so focused on extending the Eclipse development platform into the enterprise server. The one thing that all three of these projects—RAP, EPS, SOA RT—have in common is that they extend Equinox/OSGi for the enterprise server. Any new members youre courting? There has been an interesting development lately at Eclipse with the proposal of two very significant new projects which are actually led by "user" companies as opposed to the more historically typical ISVs. The two that I am thinking about are the Open System Engineering Environment project proposed by Boeing and the Maya enterprise provisioning project proposed by Cisco [Systems]. Were pretty excited about this trend and hope to see increasing involvement in Eclipse projects from outside the ISV community. How is the process of getting more user involvement in Eclipse going? Well, two [Boeing and Cisco] do not make a trend, but their contributions are a positive step. Is the issue of Sun Microsystems joining Eclipse still worth talking about? Nope. Sun is always welcome to join Eclipse. The decision is theirs to make. What difference would it make? None that I can think of. The Eclipse membership already includes every commercially successful player in the Java ecosystem. It would be great to have Sun participating, but I cant see how it would fundamentally change what were doing at Eclipse. How about Microsoft? They joined the OpenAjax Alliance. Is it conceivable they could become Eclipse members and be part of the AJAX projects in Eclipse? At this point in time, I could definitely imagine a scenario where Microsoft contributes meaningful resources to one or more Eclipse projects. We have a lot of users in common who care very deeply about interoperability, so there is actual business value in cooperation between Eclipse and Microsoft. Higgins is a great example. Microsoft is very interested in seeing widespread adoption of CardSpace, and, among other things, Higgins provides a complementary implementation which runs on Linux and Mac [OS] as well as Windows. So Higgins actually helps Microsofts business objectives. As for membership, I dont see that happening any time soon. Institutionally, Microsoft is just not there yet. But I predict that over time Microsoft will realize open source is a business model they can profit from. And when they decide to fully participate in open source, I hope they do it at Eclipse. What has the RCP wrought? What kinds of successes can you point to? Were very happy with the growth and success of RCP. In general, ISVs are embracing it for building their desktop applications, as it provides a good choice for cross-platform support and a component architecture for Java. Leading enterprises are adopting it for its component architecture and its ability to support highly productive applications that can run both connected and stand-alone. Just a few examples include [BEA Systems] Guardian product line for customer support and IBMs recently revamped Lotus product line [Expeditor, Sametime and Notes], Momentum Life for insurance sales management, Swiss Rail for train scheduling, and TIBCO Business Studio business process management product. Thats not a bad sample list, and there are many more. How big of a deal is OSGi? OSGi is a very big deal. If youre a Java developer and havent spent any time learning about OSGi, you need to invest some time getting up to speed on what the technology can do for you today and where it is heading in the future. In a nutshell, OSGi provides the unified component architecture that Java has been missing. By "unified," I mean a single, scalable component architecture that runs in devices, clients and servers as opposed to the current JCP [Java Community Process] standards, which call for quite different component models as developers move from [Java] ME to SE to EE. I believe OSGi has a very important role to play in the future of Java, especially as the Java Community Process Enterprise Edition expert group defines how OSGi can best complement Java EE. OSGi is not a panacea, but it is rapidly maturing to become a very important Java technology with its own community, ecosystem and standard-setting processes. The Eclipse plug-in architecture has been based on OSGi since Eclipse 3.0 shipped in 2004, so weve clearly demonstrated that the technology scales. Will the JCP make a compromise on the JSR-277-versus-291 issue? Have they? [Java Specification Request 291 is an existing standard defining a spec for OSGi; JSR 277 is a newer spec that defines an OSGi-like Java module system.] Sun has certainly not compromised to date, and JSR 277 seems to be full steam ahead on defining an inferior standard which ignores eight years of experience from the OSGi community. It is sad testament to Suns inability to embrace technologies not invented or controlled by their own developers. Theyre playing a game of chicken with the Java ecosystem, and I predict a train wreck when Java 7 ships unless they modify the path theyre on. What do you think of Java 6? Frankly, it is just not on my radar screen. Were doing so many things besides Java; I just havent invested a lot of time on the topic. Is IBMs Jazz a potential threat to Eclipse? Would you like for Eclipse to have a role in the open-source component/community around Jazz? Jazz is an exciting new technology platform being built on top of Eclipse which will hopefully make IBM boatloads of revenue when it is released as a product. From that standpoint, Jazz is one of the most exciting things going on in the commercial ecosystem around Eclipse. I would love for Eclipse to have a role in any open-source community that IBM may decide to build around Jazz.

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.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel