Rivals Jockey for IDE Foothold

Open-source foundation aims to 'eclipse' Microsoft.

As the battle for supremacy in the integrated development environment space settles down to two primary camps, Microsoft Corp. is in for a strong challenge from upstart Eclipse Foundation Inc.s open-source camp, industry observers say.

Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Ottowa-based Eclipse Foundation, which oversees development of the Eclipse open-source development platform, said Eclipse is poised to overcome Microsofts Visual Studio as the premier environment for application development.

"If we execute, we will, excuse the pun, eclipse the Microsoft environment," Milinkovich said in an interview at the EclipseWorld conference in New York late last month. "Microsoft is worried about the passion of what open-source software means to developers."

Eclipse continues to grow, with new projects starting and new members cropping up to support the platform. Continued growth in support for the platform could set the stage for the scenario Milinkovich described, observers said. In addition, projects such as the Eclipse Application Lifecycle Framework set up Eclipse to compete with the Microsoft Visual Studio Team System, which addresses the application development life cycle in the Microsoft environment.

Meanwhile, at the EclipseWorld conference, Milinkovich said the Eclipse Foundation plans to announce two new members this month, with more to follow in later months.

According to sources, one of the new member companies is expected to be Iona Technologies Inc., of Waltham, Mass.

Compuware Corp. acknowledged that it had been in talks with Eclipse about a strategic membership but that it had nothing to announce this month. A spokesperson said an announcement about an expanded role in the Eclipse organization would be "premature."

Compuware already is an Eclipse member at the add-in-provider level but would be assuming a lot more responsibility and influence in the organization should it opt to become a strategic member.

In addition, Compuware as a strategic member would represent a coup for Eclipse, as Compuware has based its Java tools product line on Sun Microsystems Inc.s competing NetBeans open-source tool set. Detroit-based Compuware has even been a contributor to the NetBeans framework and now is placing emphasis on Eclipse.

However, a Compuware spokesperson said that despite the companys adoption of Eclipse, Compuware will continue to support NetBeans.

When Compuware became an add-in provider for Eclipse last year, Bob Barker, vice president of strategic planning at the company, said, "We provide unique value to Eclipse developers through our model-driven, pattern-based approach that transforms models directly into working applications."

Meanwhile, Iona has been aligning more and more closely with the open-source community, having announced Celtix, its open-source enterprise service bus initiative, and also adopting Eclipse.

In addition to BEA Systems Inc., Borland Software Corp. and Sybase Inc., more strategic members will join the Eclipse Foundation this year.

At the EclipseWorld conference, Borland Chief Technology Officer Patrick Kerpan said, "Eclipse is the end of retooling core development capabilities for each evolutionary step of software engineering."

Partial Eclipse

Some of the Eclipse strategic members:

  • Actuate Corp.
  • BEA Systems
  • Borland Software
  • Computer Associates International Inc.
  • IBM
  • Serena Software Inc.
  • Sybase
  • Wind River Systems Inc.