BEA Systems Inc. saw the fruition of Willis plans Wednesday when the company announced Project Beehive, a strategy to turn over its WebLogic Workshop development framework to the open-source community.
"I started with BEA November 1, and I started working on this from the start," said Willis, BEAs vice president of developer relations. Open-sourcing a portion of Workshop "was my first goal when I got here, and its what I spent my first hour working on," he said.
Beyond the irony of a former Microsoft Corp. employee—who helped build Microsofts component model—becoming a proponent of open source, the BEA Beehive story is interesting in that it shows that BEA is willing to give up control of its development framework to draw more developers to its platform.
The irony is not lost, and that strategy is a risk to some. Marc Fleury, CEO at JBoss Inc., the Atlanta-based professional open-source company, said he believes BEAs motivation for moving to open source is misguided.
"People are going to open source as a desperate move," Fleury said. "They see open source as a panacea, and its not. You cant make a dog into a winner," he added, talking about the highly touted Workshop integrated development environment (IDE). "They said it was so great, and now they give it away because theyre not selling it."
Responding to Fleurys claim, BEA chief technology officer Scott Dietzen said, "I cant imagine how donating technology is harming to any Java vendors business."
As initially reported by eWEEK, BEA is turning over the Workshop framework to open source to accelerate adoption of the platform.
"The bottom line is that Beehive is designed to proliferate the platform," Dietzen said. "Getting more of the Java community behind a framework will allow Java developers to better compete with Microsoft," he said.
Dietzen touted Workshops ease-of-use capabilities and component-model programming as akin to Sybase Corp.s PowerBuilder and Microsofts Visual Basic, which makes the platform more attractive to a broader range of developers.
Moving the framework to the open-source community will standardize these ease-of-use features, the company said.
"The open-source community is a great way to drive ubiquity," Dietzen said. "BEA is looking at open source as a way to get our technology into the hands of many developers" and broaden the market for BEAs WebLogic platform and its components.