The Eclipse organization has amassed a huge installed base of developers using its Java-based open source development tools. Now the organization has set its sights on the run-time arena and will take on Sun's Java and Microsoft's .NET with what it says is an agnostic open source component model that runs across multiple operating systems and computing tiers.
At EclipseCon 2008 in Santa Clara, Calif on Monday, the project leaders announced the Eclipse Runtime project (Eclipse RT) an initiative to build an open source run-time technology based on its own Equinox, a lightweight OSGi compliant run-time. Equinox, the core run-time platform for Eclipse, is not new. The run-time is used by Actuate, BEA, Code 9, Iona, IBM and Oracle and is reportedly deployed on millions of developers' desktops. (the announcement comes three days before the vernal Equinox
What is new is the overarching effort to unify the organization's many run-time projects including Equinox, the Eclipse Communications Framework, EclipseLink, Rich Ajax Platform (RAP), Riena and Swordfish into a unified project and establish a consistent open source run-time and component model that runs across all operating systems and computing tiers.
Developers have build many rich client platform applications based on Equinox and more recently the run-time has been used as a server platform for Ajax aplications, web services and client/server applications.
"There's no consistent component model across all tiers -- desktop, server and mobile -- and all platforms," Eclipse Foundation Director Mike Milinkovich, noting that Microsoft's .NET is cosnistent across tiers but lacks multi-platform support while Sun's Java is good at cross-platform support but has different component models on servers, desktop and mobile devices.
Eclispe also introduced what it says is a new Component Oriented Development and Assembly paradigm that not only offers a consistent model that spans across all computing tiers and operating system platforms but that also provides more flexibility in assembling and customizing applications and a viable integration mechanism for customers, vendors and partners.
Eclispe also launched today a new Equinox community portal on its web site to educate developers on Equinox, OSGi and related Eclipse runtime projects.
It will be interesting to see how Microsoft and Sun respond to the Eclipse run-time announcement. Sun offered no official statement on Eclipse's announcement today but did announce the release of a beta version of its IDE NetBeans 6.1 that provides better support for open source scripting technologies and tighter integration with the MySQL database it purchased earlier this year.
Interestingly enough, Eclipse's Equinox announcement comes three days before the vernal equinox, the precise moment when the center of the Sun can be observed directly above the earth equator.
Seriously, though, do you think Eclipse is right on with its Equinox initiative and what will this mean for Eclipse's Java-focused developers?