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12/5/2003
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Sun Opts Out Of Eclipse

It has decided against joining the board of the open-source tool project.

Sun Microsystems has decided against joining the board of stewards, similar to a board of directors, of the Eclipse open-source tool project. It had been considering the move for several months, Sun spokesmen acknowledged.

Eclipse was started two years ago by IBM after the vendor developed an internal workbench into which Java software tools could be plugged. Since then, more than 100 additional plug-ins have been produced for the Eclipse workbench as an open-source project.

However, from the outset, Eclipse was viewed by many members of the Java community as a tool platform that was competitive with Sun's own NetBeans and Forte tools, now rolled together into the Sun Java Studio. Sun launched an open-source project around its low-end NetBean tools, and "NetBeans is at its strongest point ever, with an average 12,500 downloads per day," says Joe Keller, Sun's VP of marketing for Java Web services.

Sun's decision to remain outside the Eclipse project "was not made lightly," he adds. Common ground that would allow Sun "an equitable share in mutual development" couldn't be found, he says.

Comments from developers participating in a forum at the JavaLobby, a Java developer advocacy group claiming 99,700 members, indicated that many thought continued competition between Eclipse and Sun would lead to better tools.

"Competition is always good, especially when compared to the fairly monolithic world of .Net and Visual Studio.Net," wrote developer Gerald Bowel in a comment posted at JavaLobby.com.

IBM had been plagued by tools that didn't work together as its different software groups built their own Java tools. The Eclipse platform can provide services across tools, such as bug tracking or change-control management.

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