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IBM tightens knot with Eclipse

Big Blue's plan to use Eclipse open-source software as the link for better integration of its own development tools gets off to a start with a rewrite of its Rational products.

IBM is rewriting its Rational development tools to work more closely with Eclipse open-source software, the first phase in a Big Blue push to integrate its programming products.

Over the next year and a half, the company will rework the Rational tools to become fully integrated with Eclipse, IBM said on Monday. The move was announced in an update to the IBM Software Development Platform plan, which will use software developed by the Eclipse open-source group as the glue to meld IBM development products.

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The Rational move is the first phase in the IBM Software Development Platform effort. Currently, about 80 percent of Rational tools, used for designing and writing business applications, work as add-ons to Eclipse, according to Jeff Hammond, a group marketing manager of IBM Rational. The investment of effort in Eclipse will result in better integrated products for IBM, he said.

"What is changing is the degree of integration within Eclipse," Hammond said. "That (customer) experience just gets deeper and more tightly integrated."

The goal of the IBM Software Development Platform is to make it easier for an information technology professional to use more than one development tool from Big Blue's software lines at the same time. Once customers can effectively link tools for application modeling, testing, development and monitoring, they will be able to write business applications more quickly and cost-effectively, company executives said.

Over time, IBM will use Eclipse software to exchange data between IBM's different server software products, executives said Monday.

For example, Big Blue plans to automate the transfer of system monitoring information its Tivoli management software gathers to the Rational design and testing suite of tools. This will help system administrators and software programmers collaborate more effectively when installing new applications or tracking application bugs.

Eclipse provides a technical framework for incorporating several development tools within a single window. The Eclipse open-source project, which creates the software, was founded by IBM in 2001 and became an open-source foundation with an elected board earlier this year.

IBM said it will offer a more detailed outline of its plans for its programming tools at a conference this summer, called the IBM Rational Software Development User Conference.