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Google Donates Java Tools Source Code

By offering some $5 million worth of code and intellectual property to the Eclipse Foundation, Google aims to encourage Java development.

Google on Wednesday plans to make a substantial contribution to the open source community: It's giving over $5 million worth of code and intellectual property associated with two Java Eclipse products, WindowsBuilder and Code Pro Profiler, to the Eclipse Foundation.

The company acquired WindowsBuilder, a Java GUI design program for Eclipse, and Code Pro Profiler, a Java performance analysis tool, when it purchased Java development tool maker Instantiations in August. After offering Instantiations software for free in September, Google received many requests from Java developers to "take it to the next level," said Eric Clayberg, software engineering manager for Google Developer Tools and former co-founder and VP of product development at Instantiations.

Google has decided to honor those requests by providing WindowsBuilder and Code Pro Profiler code as the basis for two new Eclipse Foundation open source projects.

In so doing, Google makes its Google Web Toolkit (GWT) more appealing to developers and contributes to the overall health of the open source Java developer ecosystem. Its purchase of Instantiations also served to keep the company's tools out of the hands of potential rivals who might seek sway over Java developers.

Ian Skerrett, director of marketing for the Eclipse Foundation, says his organization is really excited by Google's announcement. "I wouldn't call these a gift, since Google will be very much involved in the ongoing project development," he said in an e-mail. "Google's contribution is very significant for Eclipse developers: since [the projects] are now open source more Java developers will be able to use these great tools for building Java applications. The WindowBuilder framework will also make it possible it create GUI designers for other languages, like PHP or Javascript."

He predicts that the projects will lead to more and better open source tools for developers.

With Google handing over the reins to these projects, two other open source companies are stepping up to provide commercial support.

Genuitec, the company behind MyEclipse, plans to offer commercial support for WindowsBuilder-based products such as the SWT, Swing Designer and Google's GWT Designer. And OnPositive, a Java custom solutions provider, plans to offer commercial support for Code Pro Profiler.

Google has a long history of noteworthy contributions to the open source community, such as the WebM Project and the associated VP8 codec, and Apache Wave.

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