Eclipses Growth Overshadows Its Early IBM Days

As the Java-based framework approaches its third anniversary and the organization nears its first year of independence, the platform has momentum that might never have come to pass as the IBM-dominated entity it once was.

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Eclipses are rare events, but rarer still has been the growth experienced by the Eclipse open-source development platform in recent months.

As the Java-based framework approaches its third anniversary next week and the organization nears its first year of independence, the platform has momentum that it might not have realized as the IBM-dominated entity it once was.

Having kick-started the project in 2001, IBM last February, along with members of the community that grew up around. Eclipse, launched the Eclipse Foundation, an independent, nonprofit organization designed to broaden the platform and the developer community.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read where the Eclipse platform was one year ago.

By all accounts, the move has been successful. In the past six months, since naming Mike Milinkovich executive director, the foundation has increased its membership by 30 percent and started nine open-source projects. Furthermore, more than 18 companies have included the Eclipse platform and IDE (integrated development environment) in their products.

The foundation has also broadened the reach of Eclipse beyond programmers and engineers to "power users and business reporting" types, said Skip McGaughey, the Eclipse Foundations director of ecosystems, in Asheville, N.C.

The business reporting focus comes from the BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) Project, which Eclipse started when Actuate Corp., of South San Francisco, Calif., became a member in August. BIRT is the first top-level Eclipse project for the development of applications that include BI and enterprise reporting, McGaughey said.

BIRT is expected to deliver an open-source BI and reporting platform by early next year.

"The biggest change I see in the new Eclipse is a more business-oriented focus as member companies are working to make money from their Eclipse-based products," said Ted Farrell, architect and director of the Strategy Application Development Tools Division at Oracle Corp., of Redwood Shores, Calif. "The new Eclipse projects are much more business-focused and expand from the traditional developer focus Eclipse was founded upon."

In June, the foundation released its biggest project to date, the Eclipse 3.0 platform. "Were moving Eclipse from an open platform for tools integration to a universal platform for application integration," Milinkovich said.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEKs interview with Mike Milinkovich.

For all Eclipses success, its transition to an independent organization took some time, in large part because of the investment by IBM in 2001. At the time, IBM donated $40 million worth of code to the open-source effort to start Eclipse.

Dave Bernstein, former senior vice president of product development at Rational Software Corp., took on the role of managing Eclipses transition in what some referred to as a consulting role. He had stayed on with IBM following its acquisition of Rational in February 2003 just long enough to see the Eclipse transition go through in February of this year, he said.

Bernstein was responsible for assigning executive director candidates to the Eclipse board, he said. "First and foremost, we needed an executive director who could inspire and attract the members of the consortium who were going to collaboratively develop the parts of Eclipse."

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