Eclipse Development Tools Are On A Roll

Addition of Borland and others to Eclipse board eases fear of IBM control
The Eclipse Programmer's workbench has shifted from being just another open-source project to being a rallying point for Java developers and a counterweight to Microsoft's .Net development environment.

At the second annual EclipseCon user group meeting this week, Borland Software Corp. will reveal that it has joined the Eclipse Foundation's board as a "strategic developer" member. Borland will contribute $250,000 a year to the foundation and provide software code and expertise for Eclipse projects. Borland has been a member of the organization since its founding last year to govern Eclipse projects.

Last week, middleware supplier BEA Systems Inc. and database vendor Sybase Inc. also joined the Eclipse Foundation board, as did test-and-performance software vendor Scapa Technologies Ltd. on Feb. 7.

Eclipse, a common workbench for software tools, emerged from IBM five years ago and evolved into a shared environment for commercial and open-source Java tools, with a smattering of other languages. Eclipse-based tools plug into the workbench, and developers can move from tool to tool without leaving files behind.

Borland sits on the board with IBM; it also competes with IBM's Rational tools unit for leadership in software-modeling technology. Borland will lead an Eclipse project to create an open-source modeling tool based on its commercial product, the Together Edition for Eclipse. Borland acquired modeling toolmaker TogetherSoft Corp. in 2002.

IBM is contributing voice-recognition technology to a new Eclipse Voice Tools project to produce open-source tools for building applications like General Motors Corp.'s OnStar voice-activated navigation system or T. Rowe Price's 401(k) voice-activated call center. IBM's WebSphere Voice Server and Voice Toolkit are at the heart of those applications.

Eclipse's future has been clouded by rivals' fears that IBM controls it behind the scenes. Executive director Mike Milinkovich says the board's expansion from eight to 12 strategic vendor members and the introduction of new projects ensure that Eclipse will fulfill its mission of "delivering a universal development platform."