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An Update on the Eclipse Project

Eclipse Project Keeps Rising

  • March 19, 2002
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

What's been happening with the Eclipse Project since its launch last fall? IBM, Rational Rose, HoloSofx, CommerceQuest, Versata, and at least 25 other vendors have all been readying tools for the open source integrated development environment (IDE). Meanwhile, a greatly enhanced Eclipse 2.0 is slated for release in May.

Tools from at least five vendors will become part of the WebSphere Studio Application Developer suite, which replaces Big Blue's previous VisualAge for Java. The toolsuite is at targeted at application development for IBM's Apache-based WebSphere Application Server. Two of the Eclipse-based tools are already shipping: Rational's XDE Professional Java Platform Edition, and CommerceQuest's BPI Integrator.

Other Eclipse-based tools that will join the WebSphere tools family include WebSphere voice tools from IBM, Versata's Versata Studio (recently made available on Linux in coopreration with Red Hat), and BPM Workbench from HoloSofx, according to industry sources.

"Eclipse isn't just for IBM, though," maintained Scott Handy, director of Worldwide Linux Solutions Marketing for the IBM Software Group. Rolled out on November 6 of last year, Eclipse is geared toward letting developers work on a variety of platforms including Linux, Windows, and UNIX with tools from IBM and a number of other vendors.

Aside from IBM, other founding stewards of the Eclipse Project include Rational; Borland; QNX Software Systems; RedHat; SuSE; TogetherSoft; and WebGain.

From IBM's perspective, Eclipse represents in one plank in a campaign to invest heavily in Linux. "Apache has turned out to be the 'killer app' for Linux," Handy said.

In the past, Big Blue has contributed code and technical resources to open source projects that include Apache; XML parser; Jikes compiler; JFS; SecureMail, and S/390 and PowerPC kernel updates. "IBM is committed to being a respected, contributing Linux and open source community member," according to Handy.

Generally speaking, project vendors see open source as a way of avoiding industry domination by a single player, such as Microsoft. Handy admitted, though, that revenues are one of their biggest drawing cards for Eclipse players.

"Open Source is not the same as the free software movement," he said. "In the IBM products, we want to add functionality that isn't Open Source."

The software produced by Eclipse is made available to developers under the Common Public License. Vendors can then use Eclipse to build third-party components, for sale under their own licenses.

The already released WebSphere tools from CommerceQuest and Rational each roll in the Eclipse IDE (Integrated Development Environment). CommerceQuest's BPI Integrator was the first to enter GA (general availability). BPI Integrator works with IBM's MQSeries integrator for rapid integration of business transactions, applications, databases, components, and files.

Then, in February, Rational released XDE Professional as a commercial IDE for IBM's WebSphere Studio Application Developer Suite. XDE also works with some of Rational's existing tools, including Rational's Clearcase configuration management tool; DevelopmentStudio, AnalystStudio; and RequisitePro.

For the first edition of XDE Professional, Rational abandoned original plans to integrate Clearclase directly with the Eclipse IDE's VCM (version control manager). Instead, Clearcase is currently a separate plug-in. "The checkout function in the VCM model wasn't sufficient for Clearcase," said Sky Matthews, product manager at Rational.

Rational, though, plans at least one subsequent release of XDE Professional for later this year. Future directions include tighter integration with the Eclipse VCM, along with inclusion of UI (user interface) elements from the Eclipse IDE, according to Matthews.

XDE Professional contains the same code base as Eclipse, except that strong encryption has been removed from XDE for export purposes, says John Kellerman, also of IBM. Rational has been helping to port XDE and Eclipse to AIX, Sun Solaris, and HP-UX, as well..

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the development world, Rational is also working with Microsoft on porting its Windows development tools to the .NET environment.

BPM Workbench from HoloSofx has already been on the market for about eight years. "Now, it will also be used as part of the Eclipse tooling system," said Daniel Weaver, a sales and marketing associate at HoloSofx.

BPM Workbench is aimed at letting companies represent, analyze, and change their existing business processes. The tool has already been integrated on the back end with IBM's MQSeries, to pump in a real time perspective on actual business practice workflow.

According to Weaver, the Eclipse-based edition BPM Workbench will be covered by a resale agreement with IBM. Announced last summer, the deal lets IBM resell BPM Suite as part of WebSphere line-up, to complement MQSeries Workflow, WebSphere Business Integrator, and WebSphere Partner Agreement Manager.

Meanwhile, on January 29, Eclipse released the beta for a C/C++ toolset, aimed at complementing the initial set of Java-based tools. Eclipse's C/C++ IDE Subproject is focusing on Linux development. The subproject also says, though, that it's interested in hearing from developers who want to extend its work in other directions, such as a Windows client; targeting UNIX or embedded platforms; wizards that use particular library, database, or messaging APIs; and extensions to other languages (http://www.eclipse.org/tools.org).

Additional subprojects within Eclipse include Platform, JDT (Java Development Tools); and PDE (Plug-in Development Environment) (http://www.eclipse.org/eclipse/faq/eclipse-faq.html ).

Under the Eclipse Projects 2.0 draft plan, which went public in February, VCM will be be improved with the addition of a VCM API as well as other enhancements, such as greater control by developers over rename/move/delete functions in file systems.

Other enhancements are planned, too, including a new PDE API; a smoother workbench UI; improved support for product branding; faster platform start-up times; better debugging; a more flexible installer; as well as a replacement of the component and configuration components in 1.0 with a new features concept.

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