Looking to catch a ride on the Eclipse train -- a train that appears to be taking off and going right past its rival NetBeans -- Sybase is, at JavaOne, introducing an integrated bundle of tools called WorkSpace that will plug into the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE). According to Sybase's director of application development technologies Karen Frederiksen and senior product manager Loren Corbridge, the bundle, called WorkSpace, is Sybase's first major tool release for the Eclipse IDE. Currently, the company has no plans to release the same bundle (or any other tools for that matter) for NetBeans. My interview of Frederiksen and Corbridge is available as an MP3 that can be downloaded or, if you’re already subscribed to ZDNet’s IT Matters series of audio podcasts, it will show up on your system or MP3 player automatically. See ZDNet’s podcasts: How to tune in.
Not only is this Sybase's first major foray into the world of Eclipse plug-ins, the execs also claimed that WorkSpace was the first of its kind because of how it combines several major areas such as data tooling and mobility into one integrated package whose context is the services oriented development of applications (SODA). Said the execs in the interview:
What we’ve done is we’ve combined a number of different technologies that we think developers are going to need going forward. We see that everybody is talking about services oriented architecture and moving into this new dynamic environment. But most of the tools that you see out there are really very traditional and are focused on say making [Enterprise Java Beans] or making [Java Server Pages] easier to build.
We're trying to bridge that gap to make it easier to build a services oriented architecture. So what we've done is combine tooling that is focused on services and centered around services and then we've added in full enterprise modeling which we think is going to be critical in supporting these new architectures. We've got data tooling, Java development, and service development along with quick mobilization. So what we think we bring to the table is the first unified single tool that incorporates all of these different pieces of functionality that developers need with a key focus on developing services oriented applications.
Not having intimate knowledge of the more than 800 plug-ins the Eclipse Foundation boasts to have support from, I can't verify Sybase's claims that WorkSpace is the first of its kind. But it could be true. Then again, Eclipse is an integrated development environment whose architecture practically encourages the deconstruction of such bundles into separate plug-ins that, once plugged-in, are integrated by virtue of the way Eclipse integrates them.
I asked about that, using the example of where a car mechanic might use Snap-On branded sockets with Sears Craftsman socket wrenches. In the interview, the Sybase execs argued that the integration normally achieved through Eclipse isn't enough saying:
Yes, you want to have socket wrenches and hammers and screwdrivers in your toolbox but when you go buy a socket wrench, you want it to have every size of socket wrench. You don't want some of them missing. What we bring is that complete package. If you want to swap out a piece that your more familiar with, that's fine with us.
We covered a bunch of other topics including the developer versions of Sybase's servers that will be included with WorkSpace and what it means to composite a composite application. During the interview, Frederiksen and Corlidge also offered an explanation as to why the company picked Eclipse over NetBeans as the IDE into which WorkSpace plugs in. One reason that will surely raise the hackles on the backs of the NetBeans faithful is that Sybase perceived Eclipse to be further along than NetBeans in 2002.