As promised, here is my attempt to capture the state of the Eclipse community at present. It is an incredibly daunting task to try to do this in a single blog post. But here goes…
The obvious place to start is the recent release of Eclipse Europa. I just checked with Denis, and in our first week we’ve had 400,000 download requests of the various packages. Which is a lot 🙂 Congratulations again to the project teams who worked so hard to make Europa a reality.
To me, Europa is the current deliverable along the vision of Eclipse becoming the open development platform. It is about Eclipse continuing on the community-led evolution that it has been on for the past several years.
To recap some history:
- 2001: Eclipse 1.0 ships as a Java IDE. At the time, the community was primarily made up of IBM and its partners. But IMHO, the early decision to run Eclipse as a marriage of an open source project community and an industry consortium has been the source of our community’s enduring strength and growth.
- 2002, 2003: Eclipse 2.0 and 2.1 ship and Eclipse begins to really come into its own as a tools integration platform. The consortium around Eclipse starts to grow quickly and begins to show life as a real industry force.
- 2004: Eclipse 3.0 ships, and the Eclipse Foundation is formed. This new version is a watershed because it migrates the plug-in model to the Equinox OSGi implementation and includes the Rich Client Platform (RCP). Eclipse starts to move from a tools integration platform to an application integration platform for the desktop. One of the most interesting factoids about RCP is that it largely came into being because of community interest. Enough people were ripping the IDE bits out of Eclipse 2.1 to build desktop applications on top that it became obvious that doing it once and doing it well was the obvious choice.
Skipping ahead to today, Eclipse Europa’s importance is, in many ways, linked to the emergence of Eclipse as an application integration platform which spans servers and devices. It’s not just the client any longer.
This is not a small thing. It is huge. Eclipse is one of the very few organizations which is attempting to develop a standards-based development platform of tools, runtimes and frameworks which span devices, clients and servers. All of which is based on a single component architecture and programming model.
And once again, it is the community that is driving the evolution. Just as a few years ago when people noticed that could create their own desktop applications and drove the creation of RCP, developers are now noticing the opportunities that running Equinox in, on or under a server.
So today Eclipse is not just about tools or even Java. What our community is building is something which is much more ambitious and interesting. And with new projects such as EPS, SOA RT and RAP starting up, the future looks like even more good fun.
…part 2 will focus on the state of the ecosystem.