Friday, March 04, 2005

Eclipse Foundation Releases First-Ever Roadmap

Eclipse Foundation Releases First-Ever Roadmap
One of the more intriguing pieces of news to come out of this week's EclipseCon 2005 conference is the Eclipse Foundation's announcement that it has completed its first-ever roadmap. The roadmap document, which the foundation plans to revise annually, is intended to provide visibility to the open-source community around Eclipse and the Eclipse ecosystem, explains Eclipse Foundation Executive Director Mike Milinkovich.

"To the best of our knowledge, we are the only open-source community that is even attempting to do anything like this," Milinkovich says. "We're trying to get all of the participants to begin going in a common direction, to share common development themes, and to communicate across projects."

The roadmap itself will be no surprise to anyone who has been watching developments in the Eclipse space. The foundation has been posting updates to its newsgroups about the roadmap for some time. But the announcement does beg the question: Why would an open-source community, whose projects are, by definition, utterly transparent, need a roadmap?

"All open-source projects are transparent," Milinkovich allows. "But sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees. You can get to the inner details of any one project, but trying to figure out where this thing is going as a totality is extremely difficult. What we're tying to do is to pull all of this together into one document, so that you can really understand the big picture."

"In open source, you see the projects that are in flight, but not necessarily the vision behind them," adds Thomas Murphy, VP at Stamford, CT-based IT industry analyst firm META Group. "The purpose of the roadmap would be to provide a broader vision up front."

This first-ever roadmap ran the gauntlet of several groups within the organization, Milinkovich says, including the Requirements Counsel, the Planning Counsel, and the Architecture Counsel, each of which is responsible for major sections of the overall document.

But Milinkovich is careful not to oversell the foundation's first foray into roadmap making. "I think [the roadmap] is innovative and interesting, and it's a sign in general of open source becoming more mature," he says, "but this is our first time through the process. It's informative, interesting, and full of useful information, but it's not perfect. There's room for improvement next year."

The Eclipse Foundation is a non-profit corporation formed to guide the development of projects based on the open-source Eclipse platform. The foundation's roadmap is set for release at this week's EclipseCon 2005, which runs from February 28 through March 3 at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, California, just south of San Francisco. For more information on the conference, go to: www.eclipsecon.org. For more information and discussions about the Eclipse Foundation Roadmap, go to the eclipse.foundation newsgroup.

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