Eclipse Director Discusses 3.0 Development Platform

The Eclipse Foundation last week announced the launch of Version 3.0 of its open-source development platform -- the first major release since the nonprofit group assumed oversight of the IBM-created technology.

One key new feature is a rich-client framework that will further transform Eclipse "from a platform for doing tools integration to a platform for doing application construction and integration," said Mike Milinkovich, the former Oracle vice president who became the group's executive director on June 1.

Another much-anticipated addition is the integration of Eclipse's Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) and the Swing components endorsed by the Java Community Process (JCP) that Sun Microsystems created to evolve Java. SWT and Swing are used to build graphical user interfaces, and some vendors cried foul when IBM broke ranks from the JCP with its SWT. The technologies are being integrated for Windows and Linux.

Also this week, Eclipse is releasing new versions of its C and C++ development tools and its Hyades project for application optimization and verification. "Many people have the misperception that Eclipse is a Java IDE and that's all," Milinkovich said in an interview with Computerworld.

Can you provide more details about the rich-client platform?

We've done a lot of work to refactor some of the basic frameworks within Eclipse to make them more generic so they can support any application, not just an IDE. In doing so, they've created a platform which developers working in, for example, enterprise IT shops can take these frameworks and build rich, highly functional desktop applications in Java which conform to the native platform look and feel of the underlying platform.

What's the next major area of focus for Eclipse?

The top-level project is called Web tools. The two initial subprojects under that top-level project are called Web tooling and J2EE tooling. Web tooling is really addressing areas like HTML-based Web application development, XML, Web services and service-oriented architectures. The J2EE tooling is for doing server deployments and application construction in support of both servlet (Java Server Page)-style development and (Enterprise JavaBeans) development as well.

When do you expect the first release?

In 2005, but there are going to be interim releases.

If you do your job well, won't you have a major effect on the commercial tools market?

There's no doubt that Eclipse does and has and will be in the future affecting the commercial tools. But what we are trying to do is make open-source implementations of the basic tooling, which has been done over and over and over again, and thereby free commercial developers to go and add value in new and innovative ways.

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