Sunday, February 05, 2006

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.


At Sunday, February 05, 2006 6:30:00 PM, Blogger Adam Khel said...

The disadvantage would have been that developers would not have NetBeans 5 today and hence less choice. The more high quality development environments available for Java, the better.


At Monday, February 06, 2006 2:10:00 PM, Blogger Ed Burnette said...

Depending on how it was done you could still have had NetBeans 5. But maybe there would be some hope of cross-IDE plug-ins. JSR 198 as it currently exists won't fix this.

At Monday, February 06, 2006 7:23:00 PM, Blogger magomarcelo said...

but the current draft of JSR 198 does not mandate using Swing or SWT, so what could be the reason for NetBeans and Eclipse not supporting it? There should be an easier way to port plugins minimizing the need for a rewrite... by the way looks like the latest JDeveloper implements it.

At Tuesday, February 07, 2006 8:11:00 AM, Blogger Ed Burnette said...

I agree it would be nice to have a better way to write plug-ins. But there are technical issues in the JSR198 drafts that make it hard to work with the Eclipse architecture, things which could probably be addressed in the draft but aren't being addressed. I'm not sure how much detail I can go into given the agreements I had to go through to look at the drafts, and I have only read it, not tried to implement it, but I'm not the only one who sees the technical issues.

At Wednesday, February 08, 2006 12:49:00 AM, Blogger harinisrinivas said...

Hi guys,
Sun joining Eclipse foundation shall give very advantage to Java and J2EE community has a whole. If Eclipse becomes part of Sun, All these days we are seeing compititive IDEs comming up. If Sun has two IDES Netbean and Eclipse. With in the teams they shall have compitition which is more than having compition from outside.


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