Eclipse sheds light on tool update

The open-source development tool project, which is backed by IBM, spells out enhancements intended to make Java programmers more productive.

The Eclipse software consortium released more details about enhancements that are intended to make programming with the group?s tools more efficient.

The improved features, which are expected to be completed by June of next year, include altering the Eclipse open-source software for use in applications other than development tools. The improvements were posted last week on the consortium's Web site.

IBM led the creation of Eclipse last November when it donated $40 million to the effort. The group?s goal is to create a single application that several Java development tools can plug into. For example, Using Eclipse-compliant products, a programmer could use a source-code control tool and Java programming editor within the same window.

IBM is the largest backer of Eclipse, but other important tools companies, including Borland and Oracle, have pledged to make their products work with Eclipse software.

Eclipse has generated some controversy, in part because of its attempts to steer Java programmers from Sun Microsystems? own open-source Java project called . Eclipse and NetBeans also remain at odds over the choice of a tool for designing user-interface screens on Java applications.

The enhancements the Eclipse group is preparing will culminate in a software development kit called Eclipse 3.0, due in the second quarter of next year.

Eclipse 3.0 will seek to make Java programmers more productive with a streamlined presentation of menus and an improved configuration. It will incorporate the latest Java specification, Java 2 Standard Edition 1.5, code-named Tiger.

The group also plans to rework Eclipse so it can be used in other applications? help systems and in tools to build graphical user interface designs.

The improvements, however, will not be entirely compatible with existing Eclipse software, the group said. Developers who build Eclipse applications using version 3.0 of the software will need to upgrade their current Eclipse software.

Eclipse-based tools are for writing Java applications, but some open-source projects are creating versions for other programming languages, including Microsoft's C#.

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