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Who is (really) driving Eclipse? November 16, 2007

Posted by Sacha in IT, JBoss.

The Florida Way
There’s recently been a lot of interesting news about Eclipse.

First of all, the Eclipse Foundation has been elected on the SE Executive Committee of the Java Community Process (JCP). A few years back, nobody would have guessed such a thing could happen (not simply that of being elected – but that they would actually run for the election in the first place). It is going to be interesting to see what role the Eclipse Foundation intends to play on the JCP-EC given that more than half of the existing EC members are already members of the Eclipse Foundation (BEA, Borland, Fujitsu, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Oracle, Red Hat, SAP, SAS), and 8 of them are … Eclipse Strategic Members (8 out of 20!). What is the agenda that the Eclipse Foundation wants to promote that existing EC+Eclipse members don’t? What is the disconnect that Eclipse intends to address?

Then, there is this “Eclipse Runtime Summit” taking place next month in SFO. The proposed goal of the summit is to “Define a strategy how the Eclipse Foundation will deliver runtime technology”. Runtime technology? That’s very interesting. I thought Eclipse was about tooling, not runtime. At least, that’s what I remember was communicated in 2001, when they formed their first board:

Chicago—Nov. 29, 2001–Borland, IBM, Merant, QNX Software Systems, Rational Software, RedHat, SuSE, and TogetherSoft today announced the formation of Eclipse.org, an open consortium of providers of development tools that manages the Eclipse Platform, which is being made available in open source under the Common Public License1. These companies, each of which plans to release Eclipse Platform compatible product offerings, form the initial Eclipse.org board of directors. The bylaws and operating principles of the organization are published at http://www.eclipse.org.

Many companies have participated to the success of Eclipse and helped build its brand and credibility. They did it to solve a specific pain-point this industry was facing at that time: the lack of a common platform on which to build tooling. Now, it seems “some” think that the Eclipse Foundation should move in the “runtime and platforms” space. I find it surprising and wonder if this is really its mission and the reason for what its founding members intended it.

Now, if some companies wants to step up to build and fund a new “runtime&platforms” Foundation, work on building its brand and credibility, that would be a very different story. But hijacking the Eclipse Foundation for this is a pretty aggressive move that seems disconnected from its members.




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1. Bruno - November 17, 2007

“I thought Eclipse was about tooling, not runtime”

Really ?? did you never hear about OSGi and Eclipse RCP ?


2. Sacha - November 17, 2007

two possible answers:

1) never heard of those, or
2) that wasn’t my point – as hinted by the link on the Eclipse wiki

I’ll let you decide which answer applies :)

3. Mike Milinkovich - November 19, 2007

I must admit I am quite thoroughly confused by this post. What are you driving at? I can assure you that there is no “hijacking” going on at Eclipse. Well, sort of. If people and code showing up to do cool technical stuff can be considered hijacking, then I guess we are guilty as charged.

Nonetheless, let me try to answer some of your questions.

1) Who is (really) running Eclipse? The Eclipse Board of Directors sets the policies and strategy for Eclipse. The Board approves top level projects with a specific scope and each top level project determines the feature/functionality of its individual projects. The Eclipse Foundation staff is responsible for the operational aspects of the community. In reality, as with any open source community, those individuals that participate and contribute tend to have more impact.

BTW, the reference to Eclipse’s first board in 2001 just confuses the conversation. That reference is to the creation of the Eclipse Consortium that was led and managed by IBM. Eclipse became independent in 2004.

I can assure you that all of the runtime projects at Eclipse have been intensely discussed and are happening with the full awareness of the board and the Eclipse community.

2) What is the agenda the Eclipse Foundation wants to promote on the JCP EC? If you look at the profile that was used for the JCP elections, the ‘agenda’ was communicated there. We are interested in promoting open source licenses for JSR reference implementations and creating a more open and collaborative culture within the JCP. I can honestly say that there was no link between our community’s work in runtimes and our interest in getting more involved in the JCP. And I should know :-)

3) Why is Eclipse doing runtimes? Eclipse has been doing runtimes for at least the last 3 years, mostly as part of our RCP strategy. However, in the last 18 months there has been interest in using our Equinox framework for server side applications. Then RAP, EclipseLink and Swordfish came along and accelerated the trend. The intention of the Runtime Summit is to bring together individuals that are interested in pushing forward a more organized effort in this area. Having RedHat/JBoss join us at the Summit would be way cool.

Your post seems to insinuate that there is a hidden agenda at work here. I hate to disappoint you, but I know this is not the case. All of the communication channels are open and working.

I would strongly encourage you to participate in the Eclipse community to find out for yourself. Red Hat is a member of the Eclipse, so you more welcome to run for a seat on our Board. In addition, feel free to attend a members meeting or attend the Runtime Summit.

As with any open source community, the way to impact the direction of Eclipse is through active participation.

BTW – what link to the wiki are you referring to in your comment above? I can’t find it.

4. Sacha - November 19, 2007

Hello Mike,

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

1) I am aware of the structure and governance of the Eclipse Foundation, hence the “really” as part of my blog’s title. Every organization suffers from some level of “inertia” that some members can take advantage of to bend it towards their own goal. That’s the strong feeling I am having right now wrt the Eclipse Foundation.

WRT the PR, I agree I should have pointed to the 2004 announcement as it is more recent, but I disagree it is misleading as the stated direction in 2001 is still the same in 2004: tooling. See http://www.eclipse.org/org/press-release/feb2004foundationpr.html

2) Fine. I am not sure the “openness” issue is something that depends on the EC members though. Anyway, you’ll make up your mind soon on that topic.

3) Let’s fast-forward through the RCP+OSGi blabla if you don’t mind as this is the usual soup that gets served whenever I raised that issue. I am obviously not referring to (and don’t care about) RCP (mostly a packaging effort) and OSGi.

Now, if you don’t see in EclipseLink and Swordfish a clear disconnect from Eclipse’s tooling roots, then we indeed have a problem. That is what I am referring to. At this point, a very few small number of companies (compared to your total number of members – just look at the list of contributor companies for these two projects for example) is leading that change – a substantial move away from your roots. That is not “the” Eclipse we had “voted for” originally.



5. Sacha - November 19, 2007

(BTW, I have fixed the link to the wiki – thank’s for pointing that out)

6. Mike Milinkovich - November 20, 2007

There is no organizational inertia that can explain Eclipse’s growth into new technical areas. These topics have been discussed and debated relentlessly within the Eclipse community-at-large, at EclipseCon, at membership meetings, at council meeting and at the board. I’ve even discussed these new projects one-on-one with senior managers and execs at RedHat.

EclipseLink and Swordfish are not a “disconnect”. They are an evolution. A step in a progression that has been going on for at least three or four years.

Yes, we regularly surprise people with the breadth of technology being developed at Eclipse. A huge number of people still think Eclipse is a Java IDE. But to equate that broadly based misunderstanding with some sort of “inertia” or “disconnect” or “hidden agenda” is just plain wrong.

Show up at some meetings, join some dev lists, participate and contribute. You will learn a ton.

I hope to see you at the Runtime Summit.

7. Sacha - November 20, 2007

Evolution vs. Disconnect: We will have to agree to disagree.

As for the Runtime Summit, I’ll be attending the long planned JavaPolis Runtime Summit this year: http://www.javapolis.com/confluence/display/JP07/Home



P.S. Let me know if – one day – the Eclipse Foundation “evolves” into reselling used car ;)

8. daibhir - November 20, 2007

lame. sacha, i went to red hat website circa 2004 http://web.archive.org/web/20040403173723/http://www.redhat.com/ and gee, it waz all just linux in 2004. linux linux linux. now i go to redhat.com and its all about middlware and virtualization, bjoss confereces and clustering. did redhat evolve or disconnect. let me know if you evolve to selling winter tires.


9. Christoph Henrici - November 26, 2007

I think i understand Sacha’s Issue… although i would’nt necessarly see the problem with Eclipse evolving towards Runtime Enviroment… from a “user” of Eclipse really just a matter of where i am standing a projects life-cycle and on how much you want to depend on Eclipse…..

But reading Sacha’s blog – not directly, but checking out the information, i realized that EclipseLink is basically Toplinkand that the devlopment team consists right now mostly (only?) of Oracle employee’s.

Now that’s really an issue – at least from my point-of-view – a user’s. That seems to me a “fait-a-compli”: To have a standard “Umbrella” Persistance API to be “baselined” on a “Sourcecode Copy” of a existing commercial Product.

My reaction would be different, if Oracle “really” open-sourced Toplink….

But the way Oracle “open-sourced” Toplink did’nt really help to gain my trust.

It’s not clear of which Toplink incarnation we are talking, when we are saying Toplink, it real depends very much on the Context…..

Toplink Essentials, Oracle TopLink JPA, Toplink EclipseLink? What code am i using, when i for example Toplink Essentials downloaded from the Glassfish Site vs. the Toplink JPA Implementation i get from Oracle Products? I am quite sure it’s not the same code ……

Also: the Eclipse Project Dali is very much Oracle driven and the fact that Mike has a “strong” Oracle background. That’s all ok and no problem with that: as long as the “goals” are “transparent” .

The Eclipse Project ist very similiar to what JDeveloper offers in that area, but falls terrifically short in comparison – at least what is in WTP 2.0. Again here, why different development teams? why different SCM’s?

Intention? Which?

So yes, i think i understand the “hidden agenda” and “hijacking” statements in Sacha’s Blog …but maybe i misunderstood Sacha altogether ;-)

But in any case: as long it is not clear / transparent what code base the paying customer gets versus a user of opensource Software, of software which at given timepoint “shared” the same code base and it is not clear for what you actually “pay” ….. i do have a certain mistrust . Yes Sacha’s allegory is actually good: reselling used car or is it reselling new car’s ?…. whatever ;-)

Best regards
Christoph Henrici


10. Globopolis - December 4, 2007

“Eclipse became independent in 2004.”

Query your own bug database. 90% of Eclipse bugs are owned and closed by IBM employees. Independent? Bah!

11. People Over Process » links for 2007-12-04 - December 4, 2007

[...] Who is (really) driving Eclipse? « Sacha’s Weblog Some poo-poo’ing on Eclipse starting up it’s whole OSGi-based runtime theme. Check out the comments for some great back-and-forth. (tags: eclipse swordfish via:webmink runtime opensource jboss redhat java osgi toplink eclipselink) [...]

12. Bruno - December 13, 2007


you wrote: “My reaction would be different, if Oracle “really” open-sourced Toplink”
What I understood is that TopLink 11 will be EclipseLink. So yes EclipseLink started with a “Sourcecode Copy” of Toplink, but it is really Toplink fully ‘open-sourced’.

Best regards

13. Doug Clarke - EclipseLink co-lead - January 8, 2008

I would like to defend the statement that we open sourced TopLink. The full functionality of 11gR1 is out there and we are producing monthly milestone builds. Going forward all of our persistence development will be focussed on EclipseLink and we will be consuming this project ourselves within Oracle TopLink.

At present all of the committers are Oracle employees but we are starting to gain interest from other individuals and companies. We invite everyone interested to participate in this project.

14. OnStrategies Perspectives » Eclipse’s Vernal Equinox - March 17, 2008

[...] JBoss is still protesting, witness an exchange in CTO Sacha Labourey’s blog last fall between him and Eclipse executive director Mike [...]

15. Moe Badawi - March 25, 2008

So now we have:

IBM and Red Hat as consumers of the Eclipse IDE, but IBM as the main contributor.
Oracle and Sun as the consumers of EclipseLink (JPA 2.0 RI) and Oracle as the main contributor.

Where does that put JBoss Developer Studio and Hibernate moving forward. Will Hibernate loose it market leadership in the Java EE data layer space?.

16. jo - April 11, 2008

At present all of the committers are Oracle employees but we are starting to gain interest from other individuals and
companies. We invite everyone interested to participate in this project.

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