Callisto Eclipses Other Open-Source Java Offerings

This week, the Eclipse Foundation will celebrate its most significant release to date: Callisto, an update that incorporates 10 linked projects in the foundation's namesake Java IDE.
Borland Software, in the process of selling off the IDE business that was once its cornerstone, shifted its JBuilder IDE to an Eclipse base last year. "Eclipse is increasingly popular and impossible to ignore," said Richard Gronback, chief scientist at Borland, Cupertino, Calif.

ISVs say Callisto is a key step forward in Eclipse's evolution. For the first time, a batch of Eclipse projects have synchronized their release schedule with the core Eclipse platform's annual June update, allowing developers to field updates all at once rather than piecemeal.

"One of the historical problems with Eclipse has been that each of the independent projects releases on its own schedule," said Tim Lang, vice president of developer programs at Business Objects. "From a software vendor perspective, that's very hard to QA your products against."

The San Jose, Calif.-based ISV is taking advantage of the Callisto schedule to time the release of its Crystal Reports for Eclipse plug-in. That offering, a rival to Actuate's BIRT, will ship a few weeks after Callisto's June 30 release, but pricing has not yet been disclosed.

Callisto participants say the synchronized development cycle went remarkably smoothly. "When we first started, [Eclipse Executive Director] Mike Milinkovich and I were thinking, 'We've never done this before, and we're doing it very publicly.' There was a real risk," said Eclipse's Skerrett. "I was convinced that one or two [projects] would drop out, but none have."

Instead, Callisto has picked up a few shadow projects—Eclipse initiatives that weren't far enough along to opt into official Callisto participation, but still plan to time their updates to coincide with Callisto.

Mark Coggins, Actuate's senior vice president of engineering, said the Eclipse Foundation has come a long way since Actuate joined two years ago, when it occasionally ran into technical and bureaucratic snafus in its BIRT work. With Callisto, Eclipse has successfully coordinated a project that encompasses seven million lines of code and 260 code committers from a dozen countries, he said. "[Callisto] was a triumph of planning and a triumph of careful management."

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