Friday, October 01, 2004

Eclipse Foundation: 'Who's the JBoss?'

Eclipse Foundation: 'Who's the JBoss?'
At three years of age, the Eclipse Foundation is already an open source powerhouse with more than 60 member organizations, more than 600 available plug-ins, 30 open source projects and more than 2 million lines of code.

The latest news is that this Ottawa-based foundation, which embodies openness, flexibility and choices for its anonymous users, is still growing, as evidenced by the recent addition of its newest member, the JBoss Group Inc.

In this interview, Eclipse executive director Michael Milinkovich talks about the current state of affairs in his organization, as well as what the addition of JBoss means to Eclipse and the open source community.

How many contributing members does Eclipse presently have, and who are some of the significant members?
Michael Milinkovich: Those organizations using it [the foundation] is up to 62 member companies now, nine of which are strategic members that hold seats on the board and the bulk of the rest are additional providers all contributing to Eclipse in one way or another. As for usage, we've lost track -- it's lots.

You also have to remember with this open source project people come to use it, and we do not ask for any registration. It is completely anonymous, so it's fairly hard to track usage in a scientific way, and we do not have customer lists.

Some examples of companies that are doing interesting things with Eclipse … IBM is the classic example. They are basing their entire IBM Rational product line on Eclipse. They also recently announced that IBM Lotus is moving a significant amount of their product onto the Eclipse rich client platform.

We are also very active in the embedded world. QNX [Software Systems] is leading our C and C++ development project, and they have their development tool base in Eclipse. Wind River is moving their tooling over to Eclipse, and Nokia announced they are supporting Eclipse as their platform for mobile development tools.

What are some of the competitive proprietary products (VB) for Eclipse projects?
Milinkovich: People are normally pointing to Java. Eclipse supports more languages and platforms than Java, and the primary perception is that's where we're focused. There are [Borland] JBuilder comparisons and JetBrain, but Borland is also member of Eclipse and has a number of products built on Eclipse.

IntelliJ [Technology Network] is not a member of Eclipse, [but] they're a company and a technology that we think is pretty cool. Back when I was recruited for this position and doing my research, I spent a lot of time on message boards for developers and my observations, while not scientific, was that there was a passion about Eclipse and IntelliJ.

Are there disadvantages to using Eclipse instead of a proprietary alternative?
Milinkovich: None that come to mind.

So, what are the advantages?
Milinkovich: The openness. You have free software that is built by a community that provides an enormous amount of function. One of the distinguishing things about Eclipse is that we actually focus on a great deal of what is underneath our tools. If you read our charter, we are actually not supposed to build tools. We build extensive frameworks and then build tools onto the top of those frameworks. What you get with Eclipse is an enormously flexible platform for doing tool integration and the ability to use any platform to integrate many tools. This is where the real value of Eclipse is.

JBoss recently said it has joined the foundation. Why should people take notice of JBoss joining Eclipse?
Milinkovich: It shows that the Eclipse tooling platform is becoming adopted in more and more areas and is becoming the tool set of choice both in proprietary environment and in many open source communities. JBoss is both a company and is an open source community as well; it's certainly one of the more popular open source J2EE organizations. The key point is JBoss is not only joining as a member, but also contributing to open source projects. Having them do both of those is great news for Eclipse.

What other options are now available to Eclipse and those who utilize its services now that JBoss is on board?
Milinkovich: Between Jonas and JBoss, we've got excellent coverage of open source J2EE implementation … Apache Geronimo is also working with us down the road.

Are the wheels already turning -- what's the first project in the pipeline?
Milinkovich: The Web tools project is first one JBoss has committed to putting resources into, and it is an important thing to point out that this is not just another a press release. This is about joining the Eclipse Foundation and putting resources into open source projects -- these are tangible actions backing up the membership.

How is the spread of open source especially important to the middleware segment and why is JBoss an especially nice fit now that they are a member?
Milinkovich: The answer to that is the openness, choice and flexibility. You need openness so you don't get locked in a proprietary middleware stack. Open standards and open source go very well together, and having open source implementation helps the industry to make sure customers have a choice in vendors who deal in open source, who support open source or a complete commercial stack. Having that choice is important.

Read complete interview. . .

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