Sun debates Eclipse project invitation

Sun Microsystems is still considering joining the Eclipse open-source development tools project for Java led by IBM, but admitted...

Sun Microsystems is still considering joining the Eclipse open-source development tools project for Java led by IBM, but admitted it still has some concerns.

The company believes it is good to have communities of Java developers, thus it may be a good idea to join, said Joe Keller, vice president of Java web service and tools marketing at Sun. "The invitation came to us from the Eclipse group. We're still considering it. We're still waiting for them to figure out what the invitation really looks like for us."

He added, "what we would explore are the ways we would address the issues." These include having a unified plug-in standard for plugging in tools into different Java development environments.

"That would be our agenda in joining Eclipse, to be part of that community and make sure they pursue Java standards in the right way and look at how we as the Java community can serve developers better," said Keller.

Sun would not abandon the development core of its NetBeans initiative for open-source development should the company join Eclipse. Some 1.6 million copies of NetBeans have been released to developers.

An official with Eclipse reiterated that Sun is welcome to join and that the organisation would even consider a name change, as Sun considers the name Eclipse to be a direct attack.

"It’s been open for Sun to join for 18 months to two years," said Skip McGaughey, chairperson of Eclipse and an IBM employee. He denied that the Eclipse name was intended to be anti-Sun.

Keller also reiterated Sun's plans to make a Java development tool that would make it easier to programme in the language. Eyeing Visual Basic-style development, Sun's Project Rave tool is due in a preview release in about two weeks' time, with a beta due in 2004 and general release planned for mid-2004.

"The rap on Java has been that it's too hard for folks and that's fundamentally a recognition that no one's built the right kind of tool," Keller said.

Acknowledging Sun has only captured a small percentage of the market in development tools, Keller said Sun hopes to boost its fortunes in tools by tailoring functionality in the Sun Java Studio tool to work with Sun's Java Enterprise System.

Run times for Java Enterprise System will be included inside the tool. Formerly known as Project Orion, Java Enterprise System features software for functions such as identity management, directory, web server, and portal server.  It is set to ship at the end of the month. 

Paul Krill writes for InfoWorld

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