IBM unifies Eclipse tools

IBM will attempt to boost the fortunes of its Eclipse open-source environment with tools that allow developers to create...

IBM will attempt to boost the fortunes of its Eclipse open-source environment with tools that allow developers to create applications and plug-ins for WebSphere, DB2, CrossWorlds, MQSeries, and Tivoli.

Surrounded by debate about the proprietary nature of Eclipse and its lack of broad industry support, IBM is unifying its entire middleware line-up around a single development environment. IBM is attempting to make it easier for developers and corporate users to integrate various toolsets, consequently cutting development costs.

Developers can create Eclipse-based plug-ins integrating core functions of IBM's middleware tools in the company's WebSphere Studio toolkit, making it possible for developers to create, test, debug and customise their software.

Eclipse appears to be off to a steady start with IBM set to announce this week that developers have downloaded one million copies of the environment in the first six months of its availability, and that Eclipse has garnered the support of 175 tools vendors. But Eclipse has yet to gain the backing of many other large players.

Oracle reports it has no plans to support Eclipse, believing that Eclipse has not gained substantial industry support. The database vendor also objects to IBM supporting its own proprietary user interface, called SWT (Standard Widget Toolkit).

"They're trying to break away from the Java standards by supporting a proprietary user interface," said John Magee, senior director of Oracle9i product marketing at Oracle.

Magee believed the idea behind Eclipse - giving developers the ability to integrate tools - is, fundamentally, a good one, although he believed IBM relied too heavily on having the development community "plug in everything".

SilverStream Software is also yet to buy in for similar reasons, claiming that, because IBM and Eclipse.org did not base the Eclipse Libraries on the Swing Libraries, SilverStream would have to have to rewrite much of its software -- even then, the company would largely attract only WebSphere-based users.

"The Eclipse framework doesn't use Swing for its various controls; and so we would have to rewrite our designers so they worked with the Eclipse library. If IBM had followed the Java standard, then we would have an easier time working with it," said Steve Benfield, chief technology officer of SilverStream.

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