Hot skills: Eclipse lets developers cash in on existing skills

Open source initiative supports multiple platforms

Open source initiative supports multiple platforms

What is it?

The Eclipse project is an open source initiative aiming to provide a supplier-neutral software development platform. Analyst firm Gartner described it as one of the two main integrated development environments (IDEs), along with Microsoft’s Visual Studio.

Strictly speaking, the Eclipse platform is not itself an IDE, but it contains the functionality required to build IDEs for Java, C++ and potentially other languages. Different components can also be used to build “arbitrary” applications, without subscribing to the IDE.

Eclipse evolved as the replacement for IBM’s Visualage tool family, and it is the foundation for IBM’s Websphere Studio.

Where did it originate? was formed in 2001 by IBM, Borland, Merant, Red Hat, SuSE and others. In 2004, Eclipse became a not-for-profit corporation. There are now more than 115 member companies, including users and suppliers. Hewlett-Packard, Ericsson, SAP and Intel are members.

What’s it for?

The Eclipse Platform is written in Java and comes with plug-in construction toolkits. Key elements include the Eclipse SDK (a Java IDE) and the Rich Client Platform.  Eclipse can also be used as a C/C++ IDE. The Eclipse Platform functions as an “integration point”, enabling tools and applications built with Eclipse to work together.

Developers can choose the language and platform they prefer, and Eclipse provides a plug-in framework for software tool creators. The emphasis is on increasing productivity through software reuse and the exploitation of existing skills.

What makes it special?

Bloor Research said, “Eclipse is taking the Java development world by storm and is likely to prove the IDE of choice for that community for some time to come.”

All technology, source code and software derived from Eclipse is made available royalty free under the Eclipse Public Licence.

How difficult is it to master?

The multi-language, multi-platform/supplier approach means developers can use existing skills. There will undoubtedly be savings and productivity gains, because there is no need to retrain.

What systems does it run on?

Eclipse has been deployed on development workstations under Linux, HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, QNX, Mac OS X and Windows.

What’s coming up?

The Callisto Simultaneous Release planned for June involves 10 Eclipse projects, including business intelligence and reporting tools, the C/C++ IDE, test and performance tools and a web tools platform.

Rates of pay

Experienced Java developers can earn more than £50,000.


Downloads, free tutorial material and links can be found on the Eclipse website.


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