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By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-01-19
 
 
 

Eclipse Platform Ready to Forge Its Own Path


When members of the Eclipse organization gather in Anaheim, Calif., next month, it will be to refocus the group as a new, independent entity no longer in the shadow of IBM.

At EclipseCon, the first conference dedicated to the Eclipse open-source Java development platform, the consortiums 50 members will announce the Eclipse Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization.

Although the announcement will not be certain until a "super majority" of Eclipse consortium members vote on spinning off as an independent entity, the organization is "infinitely close" to being able to make the announcement, said Mike Taylor, chief executive of Instantiations Inc., a Java tools maker based in Portland, Ore., and an Eclipse member. Taylor said that as of last week, Eclipse was but one signature shy of meeting its super majority and that he expected the organization to get that signature before the conference begins.

"We believe that the new independent entity will make Eclipse much stronger, more open and more customer-focused," said Rich Main, director of Java development environments for SAS Institute Inc., of Cary, N.C., and an Eclipse member.

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Taylor said independence for Eclipse will be an "important step to the growing up of the movement" to promote an open-source development environment to compete with Microsoft Corp.s .Net. Independence also would mean "the criticism about undue influence from IBM is out the door," Taylor said.

IBM formed Eclipse.org in 2001 and counts Oracle Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Borland Software Corp. and SAP AG among its members.

Eclipse officials said that the new organization will work and look a lot like the Apache Foundation and that members will have to commit to provide a commercial product that supports Eclipse within 12 months of joining.

There will be different levels of membership in the independent organization, officials said. Membership in the existing Eclipse consortium is free; membership in the new Eclipse will not be free for commercial entities. Entry-level members must pay $5,000 a year. There will be two levels of Strategic Partners, who must commit developers and pay up to $250,000.

"Eclipse is a big thing in Java programming, but not just Java," said Andrzej Delegacz, a database analyst with the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, in Richmond. "It has the chance to become a common platform for other languages."

Meanwhile, at EclipseCon, Innoopract Informationssysteme GmbH, of Karlsruhe, Germany, will announce its World Wide Web Windowing Toolkit Eclipse Plug-In, which provides a visual method for Java developers to create user interfaces.

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