Open source object-relational projects brew in Eclipse

A tale of dueling open source projects for object-relational mapping may be brewing within Eclipse, with similar proposals floated by Versant and Oracle.

Versant on Tuesday will announce that it has proposed to lead an effort for standards-based object-relational mapping based on JSR (Java Specification Request) 220. The specification defines a standard for object-relational mapping in Java. Specifically, the Versant effort is being called the JSR-220 ORM (object-relational mapping) project within Eclipse.

Key to the endeavor is Versant's plan to offer the Versant Open Access object-relational mapping tool as an open source tool. With Open Access, Versant is contributing mapping tools and run times for both the Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0 and the JDO (Java Data Objects) 2.0 standards. EJB and JDO are being merged over time.

Oracle announced last week, however, a similar initiative within Eclipse, in which the company will help build an open source EJB-based object-relational mapping tool under the Eclipse public license.

"All I can say is you'd have to ask Eclipse," about how two separate initiatives have sprung up, said Robert Greene, vice president of product strategy at Versant. "We did not know of Oracle's initiative and I don't believe that Oracle knew of ours."

"At this point, they're both proposals and we'll see how we can perhaps work together to consolidate where it makes sense," Greene said. Versant this week plans to discuss possibly consolidating its project with Oracle's. Oracle on Monday could not be reached for comment.

Versant believes it has a jump on Oracle because its proposal is based on contributing existing technology, Versant Open Access. "There is no more commercial version. It's just an open source version," Greene said.

"We're basically bringing this standards-based solution to the mainstream developers now," Greene said.

The Eclipse Foundation, in a prepared statement Monday from Executive Director Mike Milinkovich, said that the foundation was presented with two similar projects by different sponsors and that occasional overlap is not surprising given interest in Eclipse projects.

"Now that the proposals have been posted, we expect that the teams will discuss whether there should be a merger of the two or if they will continue separately. This decision will ultimately be up to the developers, not the Eclipse Foundation," Milinkovich said.

Object-relational mapping represents the future in how Java developers interact with a database, Greene said. "It's much easier than the old way of doing things, involving a much lower-level access," he said. A developer could build an application and hook it to the database within minutes, Greene added.

Versant in its press statement said it is looking forward to working with Eclipse members including IBM, BEA Systems, and Oracle. The Eclipse Foundation endorsed the Versant effort. When unveiling its Eclipse effort, Oracle cited endorsements from JBoss, Sun, and also the Eclipse Foundation.

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