A few developments from the JavaOne conference this week point to a shift in Sun Microsystem's stance toward Eclipse, and perhaps at the same time wider embrace of NetBeans. The upshot is that the either-or thinking for the development environments is giving way to the have-it-your way openness developers tend to favor.
Daryl Taft at eWeek has the scoop that Sun is bringing some Solaris x86 efforts to Eclipse. And during the conference's opening keynote Tuesday, JBoss CEO Marc Fleury -- on stage with Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz -- voiced support for NetBeans. Of course, he didn't say he was ditching Eclipse either. And that's the point: There can and should be opportunity for cherry-picking by development teams on what they view as the pluses and minuses within multiple development environments and frameworks. Java compliance should be the common denominator for deployment efficiencies.
I'm not going to get too giddy on this, however, because the devil in the details is substantial. But in terms of political nuance, this is big. Since Borland has stepped away from its IDEs as a deferential nod to Eclipse, this NetBeans rapprochement seemed inevitable. Sun is showing good grace this week, for sure, on multiple fronts. Perhaps the acorn is further from the tree than I thought.
It must be hard on some inside Sun to make these steps. But it did seem a bit odd that as Sun executives declared the critical role of developers to the company's future out of one side of their mouth, they dismissed the leading Java IDE, Eclipse, out of the other. The future for Sun is in having the best cost-benefit analysis story on large-scale deployment strategies. Trying to accomplish that via its own communities of development was a bold move, but better to cast the widest net on development and bait the hook well on deployment options, at least at this point in time.
Now, at least, Sun is moving from neutral at best to seemingly open to Eclipse for parts of their development and deployment inventory. I suspect this trend toward Eclipse friendliness will continue and accelerate. This is good news for everyone except Microsoft.