JDJ Industry Interviews
Eclipse Interview - Innovative Solutions for Enterprise Developers
An interview with Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation
By: Java News Desk
Jul. 24, 2006 04:45 PM
JDJ: What's the state of the RCP - are "rich clients" Eclipse's focal point for the future of software development?
Milinkovich: Eclipse RCP is a very important strategy and future for us. We are seeing a lot of uptake, in particular ISVs, from organizations adopting RCP as the platform for building their next-generation products. That being said, Eclipse as a community is focused on a number of different areas including providing innovative solutions for enterprise Java developers. In addition, we have a leadership position in providing the platform for embedded tools development and our SOA and ALM initiatives are coming on strong.
JDJ: How does portability between platforms translate into value for enterprises, assuming that this is what will drive RCP adoption.
Milinkovich: The freedom of choice is the value RCP is providing enterprises and ISVs. If you are building for the .NET platform, you are pretty much committed to deploying on Windows. Eclipse RCP allows you to choose now or in the future the ability deploy on Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris, or HP-UX, and we are working on embedded platforms like the Nokia Series 60. This is pretty compelling, especially if you are an ISV and want to have a solution for potential Mac and Linux customers.
JDJ: Is SOA still a part of the Eclipse Foundation's vision of the future?
Milinkovich: Absolutely. We have a top-level project called the SOA Tools Platform that is building the frameworks and exemplary tools that enable the design, configuration, assembly, deployment, monitoring, and management of software designed around a service-oriented architecture (SOA). The interesting thing about this project is that the companies involved in the SCA are also involved in the Eclipse SOA Tools project, so there is going to be very good symmetry between these two initiatives.
JDJ: How about Ajax? Where does that fit in? The Eclipse Foundation joined OpenAjax right from the get-go, for example.
Milinkovich: Ajax is a natural evolution for Eclipse. Lots of people equate Eclipse with being Java but Eclipse is a lot more than just Java. Eclipse is really about being a platform for building and integrating tools. In fact ,we have counted over 20 different language IDEs built on Eclipse.
So developing an Ajax tool chain and frameworks is pretty natural for us. Specifically, we have an Ajax Toolkit Framework (ATF) project and an Ajax framework project called Rich Ajax Platform (RAP). The other interesting thing is that if you look at the wider Ajax and Rich Internet Application (RIA) community, everyone seems to be building their tools on Eclipse - Adobe, Nexaweb, and Laszlo to name just a few.
JDJ: Sun's been rumbling on about possibly joining Eclipse at long last if only you'd ditch the confrontational name. (1) Would you ever change the name and (2) would Sun's joining mean the end of NetBeans?
Milinkovich: I really believe there are two platforms now: Eclipse and Visual Studio .NET. I have said this before; we would love to have Sun join Eclipse. There is lots of room for NetBeans and I can easily see it thriving on the Eclipse platform. Changing the name is really not an option any longer.
JDJ: What do you think are the top three open source issues right now?
Milinkovich: I used to be a product manager in a former life, and to me what the open source community as a whole needs to think of is how to provide enterprises with the "whole product." What I mean by that is just providing the executable bits is not enough. Enterprises need services, technical support, training, knowledge transfer, etc., as well as the source and binary code. In other words, the open source community in its entirety will need to provide all of these various pieces to enterprises before becoming truly mainstream.
Along with this, enterprises want to source their technology from reliable and predictable providers. Open source communities need to demonstrate that they can be transparent and predictable in their technology roadmaps. This is one area that we at Eclipse spend a great deal of time and effort working on.
The third area is that the open source community needs to figure out how to inspire enterprises to contribute back to the community. Not out of altruism, but because the corporations are shown that there are compelling business reasons to do so. To me, that seems like one of the obvious paths for both growth and collaboration by the open source community.
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