Borland Becomes Eclipse Strategic Partner

Borland Software confirmed rumors this week that it would be upgrading its membership in the Eclipse Foundation. The Scotts Valley, CA-based toolmaker, which was one of the founding member companies of the organization, has signed on as a strategic developer and member of the board.

A strategic developer membership, which costs up to $250,000 annually, requires the member company to commit a minimum of eight developers to work on the Eclipse platform. But strategic developer members are also encouraged to lead top-level Eclipse projects.

Borland is proposing a new project to extend Eclipse's application development lifecycle management (ALM) capabilities, which is a Borland specialty. The company began about two-and-a-half years ago to integrate its tools and technologies with acquired products to create environments equipped to handle all aspects of application development, from the planning and requirements-gathering stages, through development and testing.

Borland also plans to expand its use of Eclipse as a platform across its ALM product line, the company says.

What does Borland's new commitment mean for JBuilder, the company's enormously popular Java dev tool and one-time star of the Borland catalog? Speaking to reporters at this week's EclipseCon conference, Raaj Shinde, Borland's VP of product strategy and architecture, said JBuilder users shouldn't worry.

"Many people are using JBuilder today," Shinde said. "We will continue to support those people. But there is also a large segment of our customer population that wants tooling on Eclipse to build their own ecosystems. We will support those people, as well."

Borland's decision to amplify its involvement with Eclipse threw something of a spotlight on what industry watchers see as the changing status of the IDE.

"The reality of the market is that the basic IDE piece isn't where the strong value is," says META Group analyst Thomas Murphy. "The value is with all the other pieces that companies can layer around the IDE. For Borland, taking a more active role [in the Eclipse Foundation] means looking at the fact that Visual Studio and Eclipse are the two de facto market IDEs. Borland's value comes in with its Themis project and the integration of the lifecycle and collaborative development.

Borland's Project Themis, now called Borland Core SDP (Software Delivery Platform), is an ALM environment with integrated tools optimized for job function and cross-role interaction--essentially, a collaborative, role-based development technology.

"On the other hand," Murphy adds, "this was a big decision for Borland. The company is known in the market for its IDEs."

Shinde took pains to emphasize that his company is approaching Eclipse the framework. "We have to be very careful and not confuse the framework with the IDE," he said. "The Eclipse JDT is an IDE project, but if you look the architecture diagram for Eclipse, it's a small piece. From day one, Borland has been involved with the Eclipse Foundation. We've had products shipping on Eclipse since early 2002, and most of the Borland products have Eclipse incarnations and will continue to be there on Eclipse."

Eclipse Foundation executive director, Mike Milinkovich, who moderated the press conference, underscored Shine's comments: "Eclipse is about frameworks," he said. "If you read the purposes of Eclipse, it doesn't say Eclipse does tools. It says Eclipse is about creating frameworks and extensible exemplary tools. Everyone is familiar with Eclipse's Java tools. What Eclipse's Java tools really are is an example of how, if you use the Eclipse platform, which is a framework, you can build an IDE."