With enterprise application development largely dividing into two camps — the Java-derived Eclipse faction on one side and Microsoft’s .Net on the other — it would seem that Java founder Sun Microsystems would choose to align itself with the Eclipse Foundation. But Sun remains outside Eclipse, although an open invitation remains to participate in the open source tools organisation.
Sun remains committed to its own NetBeans open source platform, while Eclipse sells out its annual EclipseCon technical conference.
Negotiations to have Sun join Eclipse fell apart in 2003. Sun said at the time it was not offered “an equitable share in mutual development”.
“There’s no conversation going on but they are always welcome to join Eclipse,” says Eclipse Foundation executive director Mike Milinkovich.
But Sun is sticking to its guns.
“Sun believes that competition for the Java tools ecosystem is healthy for Java developers. We continue to advocate and support the NetBeans project and IDE. Sun has no plans to join Eclipse at this time,” Sun says.
Milinkovich touted Eclipse as being the industry counterpart to Microsoft. “From the tools perspective, it is very clearly evolving into two ecosystems: Microsoft and Eclipse,” Milinkovich says.
Eclipse has been tightly linked to Java, but the organisation is more than Java, he says. “To a large degree, Eclipse is still very much associated with Java, despite the fact that [we have been] very strong in C and C++ for a long time,” Milinkovich says.
The PHP web scripting language is also on Eclipse’s agenda, with a PHP IDE project announced last week, led by Zend Technologies and IBM.
“I’m really excited about the PHP tools for Eclipse,” Milinkovich says.
IBM, for its part, announced several other developments at EclipseCon. The company is piloting a support programme for developers using Eclipse as their primary development environment. The programme is for customers using both open source Eclipse and commercial Eclipse-based tools such as IBM Rational software.
The company also unveiled Rational Data Architect, an Eclipse-based tool to help architects understand information assets, map assets to each other and create database and integration schemas. A new e-forms tool was also announced. Workplace Forms Designer 2.6 allows forms designers to build XML e-forms for automating business processes.
A help interface plugin for Eclipse is being announced, providing a multilingual, cross-platform, open source help system.
“It’s an offering to allow you to quickly build an Eclipse help system-based application to deliver online content,” says John Kellerman, manager of Eclipse strategy at IBM.
Compuware introduced version 4.1 of its OptimalJ tool for model-driven Java development at the recent conference. The tool features Professional Edition and Developer Editions built on the Eclipse platform. The Professional Edition also supports rival NetBeans.
At the SD West 2006 conference, panellists at one session cited deficiencies in application modeling. But Compuware officials stressed that, while modeling poses a paradigm shift, it does increase productivity. Development via modeling can “almost cut in half the time it takes to deliver a Java application,” says Mike Burba, marketing director at Compuware.
Also featured in Version 4.1 is improved UML modeling, through the incorporation of MagicDraw UML from No Magic. Developers can visualise designs as UML 2.0 diagrams — this takes just a few steps — class and use cases can then be imported to OptimalJ domain models for application architecture and code generation.
Compuware is seeking to get involved in the proposed Eclipse Modeling Top Level Project, which purports to extend OMG Model Driven Architecture to Eclipse. IBM and Borland Software are leading this project.