The new version, a beta version of which was released on 28 June, will feature support for the latest Java Development Kit from Sun Microsystems and the JavaDoc specification for generating code documentation, according to Bernie Spang, director of Websphere Studio marketing at IBM.
Other new features include improved support for software management and version control products, such as those from Computer Associates International, Merant and Rational Software.
However the new features are less important than the fact that Eclipse is continuing to evolve and gain momentum, analysts said. "IBM's ultimate goal is to establish Eclipse as the second viable competitor to [Microsoft's] Visual Studio," Mark Driver, an analyst at Gartner, said.
Driver said Eclipse is unlikely to get support from major vendors such as Oracle or BEA Systems for competitive reasons. Instead, the platform is gaining favour among many small vendors "who have nothing to lose," he said.
From a user standpoint, a key benefit of Eclipse is the ability to work from a single interface with a wide range of tools made by the vendors who have elected to plug their products into the platform.