Eclipse: It's in the (Java) cards

NASA is ready to begin testing them for securing access to facilities and information systems. Princeton just unveiled new parking meters that accept them. And it won't be long before thousands of cell phones carry them -- 300,000,000 GSM devices already do.

What we're talking about is smart cards. These and other announcements underscore the opportunities for software developers with the know-how to create applications for these credit-card-sized slices of plastic embedded with microcontrollers.

Speed to market is the key, said Angus McIntyre, product line manager for IBM's embedded Java products. To get them up and running, IBM is providing developers with its own set of tools based on the Eclipse architecture. The company launched Eclipse as a project two years ago, and is this week announcing moves to cede Eclipse project tutelage to the open-source community.

The tools are known as BIMB JCOP Tools V.3.0, and included are a simulation program, a debugger, and a shell for auto test and other purposes. The tools run on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.

"Basing the tool on Eclipse allows up to 10 million developers to grab the tools and quickly understand the user interface," McIntyre told Programmers Report. "It still takes a while to understand the development of applications for a microcontroller, but at least they have familiar tools with which to work."

The uptake of smart cards has been slower in the U.S. and Canada than in Europe and Asia, McIntyre believes, largely because of a lack of infrastructure in the form of card readers.

But certain industries -- notably financial services and health care -- are embracing the technology, and the market as a whole is probably approaching a tipping point, McIntyre asserts.

Instructions for downloading and installing the JCOP Tools plug-in for Eclipse are available at

For other Programmers Report articles, please go to

For more Eclipse news, go to ADT Eclipse Page

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at


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