Eclipse Is Still Going Strong

Five years later, the open-source platform continues to grow.

It was five years ago that IBM invested $40 million in software development to help create an open-source integrated development environment focused on empowering the individual Java developer.

In the intervening years, the Eclipse open-source development platform has grown well beyond the IDE space, branching out into areas such as reporting, modeling, AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) development, SOA (service-oriented architecture) tooling, RCP (rich-client platform) technology, team development, and support for other languages beyond Java.

"Eclipse has far exceeded our initial expectations," said John Kellerman, IBMs product manager for Eclipse, in Raleigh, N.C.

"It is expanding past its roots as an application development platform into a general platform for rich-client applications. We hadnt envisioned that five years ago. The community that has been created around Eclipse and the innovation that is occurring is phenomenal."

In February 2004, IBM helped spin out the Eclipse effort into an independent entity known as the Eclipse Foundation, patterned loosely after the Apache Software Foundation, another open-source-software community.

The Eclipse platform also has seen so much success that several Java IDE companies, such as Borland Software, simply decided to bow out and base their Java tools on Eclipse rather than compete with the juggernaut.

The only remaining commercial holdout is JetBrains, which maintains a niche following. Meanwhile, Sun Microsystems—with its competing open-source Java tools platform, NetBeans—continues to innovate, recently turning out a new release.

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Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, said the platform has made it easier for organizations and developers to choose the best tools for their development needs.

"Eclipse has delivered real value in driving developer tool integration and interoperability," said Milinkovich in Ottawa.

"More specifically, we have had a major impact in the markets for both Java and embedded development tools."

"In the device software development space, Eclipse has become the standard that [real-time operating system] and silicon vendors now base their commercial tools on," said Doug Gaff, a manager at Wind River Systems, in Alameda, Calif., and leader of Eclipses DSDP (Device Software Development Platform) Project Management Committee.

In Java, Eclipse founders have largely accomplished their initial goal of coalescing a significant ecosystem around a single tools platform, Milinkovich said.

"With so many large and small companies shipping Java IDEs based on Eclipse—BEAs WebLogic Workshop, Borlands upcoming Peloton, Genuitecs MyEclipse, IBMs Rational product line and SAPs NetWeaver Studio, to name just a few—our community is clearly the leader in Java tools platforms," he said.

Thomas Murphy, an analyst with Gartner, in Redmond, Wash., said that for large IDE manufacturers, Eclipse "took the bottom out of the market. [Yet] for many smaller companies like Instantiations, it has opened the door up for innovative plug-ins to extend the core tool set."

Mike Taylor, CEO of Instantiations, in Portland, Ore., said Eclipses success has changed the competitive landscape from one characterized as "inter-Java" competition "to one where the whole Eclipse community, united on a single, common platform, essentially competes as a unit with a monolithic vendor like Microsoft."

Bill Roth, vice president of the BEA Workshop product line at BEA Systems, in San Jose, Calif., said Eclipses adoption by a majority of Java developers has created "a general shrinkage of the Java tools market in revenue. This forces the tools vendors like BEA to think even harder about features to include to make developers lives easier."

Peter Yared, CEO of ActiveGrid, said Eclipse is poised to take over the development space.

"When you look at the broad vendor support and number of extensions, competing technologies such as NetBeans and even Visual Studio pale in comparison," said Yared in San Francisco.

Eclipse Throws a Long Shadow

On its fifth birthday, the free software is showing phenomenal growth and market impact. Key Eclipse projects include:

  • Tools Project
  • WTP (Web Tools Platform) Project
  • TPTP (Test & Performance Tools Platform) Project
  • BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) Project
  • Modeling Project
  • DSDP Project
  • DTP (Data Tools Platform)
  • STP (SOA Tools Platform) Project
  • Equinox
  • RCP

Source: eWEEK reporting

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