Borland Plans to Innovate Atop Eclipse IDE

The company announced at EclipseCon that it will support the Eclipse IDE with a new Graphical Modeling Framework to better connect development with the enterprise side.

BURLINGAME, Calif.—Borland said it will innovate around the Eclipse open-source development platform just as it does for Microsofts Visual Studio and other core development environments.

During a press conference at the EclipseCon 2005 conference here Tuesday, Raaj Shinde, vice president of product strategy and architecture at Borland Software Corp., said the company would continue to support its JBuilder Java-based IDE (integrated development environment) as well as support the Eclipse IDE and Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio .Net platform.

Essentially, the company is looking at the IDE as a commodity.

In a session here Wednesday entitled "The Death of the IDE—Long Live the IDE," Borland executives discussed how the Eclipse platform could be the "beginning of a framework that will live across many epochs to come," said David Intersimone, vice president of developer relations and chief evangelist at Borland.

Intersimone said Eclipse is reaching critical mass with thousands and thousands of extensions and dozens of sites listing Eclipse plug-ins, and that Eclipse has essentially commoditized the IDE space, so companies like Borland need to innovate above the IDE.

"One thing we think theyve done very well is to focus on foundation capabilities, not products, but foundation projects," said Patrick Kerpan, Borlands chief technology officer. Indeed, "This might be the end of the constant retooling weve gone through over the years for each evolutionary step of software engineering," Kerpan said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifTo read more about Borlands support for Eclipse, click here.

Kerpan also said that as early as 2003 Borland was giving "equal credence in engineering" to Eclipse as it gave to supporting its own Delphi platform.

Intersimone alternately described Eclipse as an IDE, not an IDE, a development environment, an application framework and an integration platform.

"Its also open source, but thats not the point," he said.

Kerpan said if he had to make a slogan for what Eclipse has done for developers it would be: Free at last! "We spend so much R&D money to keep up with" little pieces of functionality built into proprietary platforms, but Eclipse does not require that, he said.

"Once it is a platform game it is time for Borland to add value to the platform, just like we do for WebSphere, Visual Studio, etc.," Kerpan said. "The IDE is commoditized so you have to deliver higher value up the stack."

This means delivering innovations in role-based integrations and capabilities, closer alignment between business and IT, and improved visibility and collaboration across roles.

In addition, Kerpan said renewed innovation in software delivery changes the game. And this has a leveling effect in which people pursue higher value solutions, he said.

So Borlands contribution will be a new GMF (Graphical Modeling Framework) that integrates with the Eclipse Modeling Framework to better connect development teams to the business side of enterprises. Borland will work on this GMF both in Eclipse and in its own products, Kerpan said.

This will mean a focus on business integration, visualization and predictability, and teamwork infrastructures. "Youll see us deliver higher value products across the board," Kerpan said.

Moreover, Kerpan said he would like to see more projects that drive the "re-standardization" of J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) application servers, "to set aside the Java/J2EE portability concerns of application servers," because so much around application servers has become proprietary.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read about a debate at OOPSLA 2004 on the merits of .Net versus J2EE.

Some industry innovations that could come from building at higher levels atop the commoditized IDE include very large displays, software to address social constructs, and moving IDE functions to the network, Kerpan said.

"Eclipse creates an opportunity for vendors to stop competing on low-value, multiply implemented, ever-commoditized features and creates an opportunity for higher value solutions," Kerpan said. These solutions include the innovative use of capital for hardware, software and business model advancements, he said. "We see a renaissance of development capabilities coming."

Intersimone and Kerpan also outlined the history of the IDE from 1980 with simple IDEs to 2005 and beyond with role-based software delivery environments.

/zimages/6/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.