As the Eclipse open-source development platform marks its second anniversary this month, IBM, its main sponsor, is putting more money, manpower and research into making the Java-based integrated development environment more attractive to developers and more of a competitor to Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio .Net.
IBM and its Eclipse partners are leveraging Eclipse as the foundation for new application development technology on the Java side, while Windows developers await Microsofts "Whidbey," which is a year off.
IBM Research has several projects in the works around Eclipse, including an Architects Workbench, a project called "Jazz" that adds collaboration capabilities such as instant messaging and an Aspect-Oriented Programming model, IBM officials said.
Vivek Sarkar, senior manager of programming technologies at IBMs Thomas J. Watson Research Center, in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., said IBM has more than 100 researchers focused on enhancing the Eclipse platform.
"Eclipse has evolved into what wed consider to be one of the most significant open-source initiatives currently in progress, along with Apache," said Stephen OGrady, an analyst at RedMonk LLC, of Bath, Maine. "IBMs announcement of its intention to deliver Lotus Workplace 2.0 on an Eclipse framework to us is both a validation of that direction of Eclipse and a major story."
Meanwhile, an ecosystem is cropping up around Eclipse, which registers 10,000 download requests per day. In the two years since the effort started, more than 175 companies have committed to supporting it.
Genuitec LLC, based in Plano, Texas, has a J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) development tool, known as MyEclipse, that is based on Eclipse and available for a $30 annual subscription fee.
"Looking deeper beneath the high- profile efforts to privately brand Eclipse reveals a new ecosystem of software development promising a vast diversity of IT products and services, all catalyzed by what Eclipse can do for this fledgling economy," said Maher Masri, president of Genuitec.
In addition, in February, the Eclipse Consortium and the Object Management Group will host the first EclipseCon conference in Anaheim, Calif.
The growing Eclipse consortium also is ready to welcome Sun Microsystems Inc. "As for Sun joining, I think it would be a very significant sign that one of the last major Eclipse holdouts—along with BEA [Systems Inc.]—was recognizing that the real target for Java development tools vendors shouldnt be each other, but Microsoft," OGrady said.