The Eclipse Foundation announced late last week that it is joining the Java Community Process (JCP), Object Management Group (OMG) and OSGi Alliance.
It is too early to tell what the impact will be of this coming together of four major open source, open standards organizations, said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. The plan is for committers to Eclipse projects to contribute expertise to the three organizations to reciprocate for what they have provided for the Eclipse developer ecosystem, but how that will be done is yet to be determined, he said.
Eclipse open source projects are providing implementations of the standards from the three organizations, according to the announcement. For example, the Eclipse Web Tools Project (WTP) includes implementations of JCP JSR 244 (Java EE 5), JSR 220 (Enterprise JavaBeans 3), JSR 127 (JavaServer Faces). The Eclipse Equinox project is an implementation of the OSGi v4 specification. The Eclipse Modeling Project provides implementations for OMG's UML 2.
Milinkovich acknowledged that most of the press attention will focus on Eclipse becoming part of the JCP because of the arm's length relationship it has always had with its most famous non-member, Sun Microsystems Inc. Asked if in joining JCP, Eclipse was reaching out to Sun, Milinkovich said yes, but added that there was no expectation of any reciprocation from Sun on the part of Eclipse.
Eclipse's new membership in JCP represents a change because while Eclipse works closely with OMG and OSGi in sharing technology, the relationship with the Java community has not been as close up to now, Milinkovich said.
"Historically, there's been less day-to-day interaction between JCP and Eclipse," he said. "We hope that over time we'll figure out how to get more deeply involved and hopefully figure a way to get Sun more deeply involved in Eclipse. There's way more common interests than divergent interests between Eclipse and what Sun is doing with Java."
The possibility of a détente in the cold war between Sun, the Java inventor, and Eclipse, the organization that has developed a popular Java tools platform, which analyst say overshadows Sun's own Java EE 5, is a possibility according to one of those analysts.
"Eclipse is definitely reaching out to Sun and this will benefit Java developers in terms of greater flexibility and increased choice," said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC. "I think the timing is the result of the progress Sun is making toward open-sourcing Java. As that initiative progresses, I'd expect to see greater synergies across the board between Java and various open source and vendor neutral efforts."
Sun welcomed this move, which Milinkovich characterized as a "good faith effort."
"I'm pleased to welcome Eclipse to the JCP," said Onno Kluyt, chair of the JCP and director of the JCP Program at Sun Microsystems. "Eclipse will find many other open source software organizations and projects represented in the JCP Membership, such as the Apache Software Foundation, MySQL, JBoss and the OpenJDK, Glassfish and Mobile & Embedded communities. Eclipse brings its expertise to the fold to benefit standards, community and developers. Many of the Eclipse projects already implement standards developed through the JCP and the move to formally join the community is an indication that an even greater involvement with Java standards development and implementation is to be expected. This is great news for the Eclipse platform and for Java technology and developers."
Besides paying dues to OMG and OSGi, the main thing Eclipse can offer to all three organizations is the expertise of its committers working on projects within Eclipse, Milinkovich said. Eclipse does not require its members to give up the intellectual property rights to code they contribute to Eclipse, so any technology given to the three organizations would have to come directly from the owner, for example, IBM.
Milinkovich pointed out that the relationship between OMG and OSGi specifications and the implementation in Eclipse projects and tooling is already very close, especially in Equinox.
"Equinox is the project within the Eclipse platform that implements the base services within the OSGi spec," he explained "It also provides the runtime for the Eclipse Rich Client Platform and the Eclipse tooling infrastructure. Effectively, an Eclipse plug-in is exactly the same thing as what is referred to as a bundle in the OSGi spec. So there's shared DNA between OSGi and Eclipse that goes very, very deep.