Hey Sun, come join the Eclipse party
Roumen Strobl recently referred to part of a post from Gregg Sporar which listed several reasons why Sun doesn't want to join the Eclipse Foundation. Although I'm a member of the Foundation I don't speak for them, but I just wanted to respond to the points in these postings.
1. Not liking SWT is fine but not a good reason to stay separate from the Foundation (in fact, I'd say just the opposite). SWT is only one part of Eclipse technology anyway, look at projects like Corona. Also, I think most users don't care what widget set is used under the covers, but for those that do, they can make the SWT API run on top of Swing if they want (there's at least one project that does that).
Regarding WORA, the JRE uses a lot of native code just like SWT. Does that mean the JRE is not WORA? The thing is that the JRE package includes all the native code so a Java Swing app hopefully doesn't have to include any of its own. If the JRE package somehow included SWT then it wouldn't be an issue.
2. For application developers, there's more than just Swing and SWT. We have to deal with HTML, Ajax, Flash, Avalon, and so forth. A better answer might be a widget-library neutral representation of user interfaces along the lines of XUL. Backed by logic in Java of course.
3. People don't have to use the 'base toolkit' (I assume you mean the Eclipse SDK), there are many other collections available. For example on the WTP download page you can get an all-in-one download that includes Java + Web development (HTML/XML/JSP editor, etc.). Also there are distributions like Yoxos and value added commercial offerings like MyEclipse. Lots of options there. But I concede that the NetBeans packaging is superior to Eclipse from an end-user perspective. Those end users are Java users, so wouldn't it be in Sun's self interest to help Eclipse improve this from a position within the Foundation?
4. Those third-party applications look nice. Why does it have to be a one-or-the-other decision though? If they wanted, Sun could join the Foundation to get a seat at the table and help drive Eclipse direction to the benefit of all Java users. They don't have to agree with everything or use everything or contribute to everything.
5. Again, who is saying 'abandon'? We could merge the best features of both on top of a common OSGi based platform.
6. Many of the members of the Eclipse foundation compete against each other but by joining forces and creating standard frameworks we can avoid duplicating work and better compete against non-Java solutions. Making Java solutions stronger is certainly something Sun is in favor of, so why not join in?
In conclusion, I see lots of up side and no down side in Sun joining the Eclipse Foundation. There would be a little bit of pride-swallowing, but many other joiners have had to do that. The long-term benefits to the Java community would far outweigh any temporary discomfort.