Eclipse: an 'intertool' platform
- By Jack Vaughan
While emerging interest in web services has raised anew the issue of intertool communications, the need to go beyond cut-and-paste links between different vendors' tool sets has always confronted developers.
IBM said its Eclipse strategy aims to solve the problem, by donating some software and endeavoring to create a new open-source community that would enable developers to integrate software tools from multiple suppliers. In announcing the Eclipse project, the company set the value of the donated software, which, as described above, is a development environment with a plug-in architecture, at $40 million.
Working Eclipse software will be available from the Eclipse.org web site. Word of the open software initiative came at the same time that IBM formally introduced new versions of its WebSphere studio suite.
"Eclipse is an open source technology that represents a tools integration platform," said Scott Hebner, program director, application development marketing at IBM. "It allows you to integrate tools. It's freely managed in the public domain."
He noted too that IBM "created a commercial version that it will sell and support. Said Hebner: "The analogy here is Eclipse is to our tool what Apache [open source software] is to IBM's commercial HTTP server."
"The world of application development tools now has a standard to integrate tools," said Hebner.
Software powerhouses like IBM and Microsoft have always been prepared to share API specs with other vendors, but high intellectual property costs were attached to these parts of complex alliances and deals. The idea of an 'open bus' for intertool communication, as well as a software environment that speeds related development, could find an immediate audience among ISVs.
Commenting on Eclipse in a Forrester Brief, Analyst David Truog said Microsoft and Sun may come under greater pressure to offer similar capabilities to their respective developer communities. He noted that IBM has significant groundwork yet to perform in order for Eclipse.org to become a trusted software authority.
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Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.