Eclipse bulks up, reaches out

Salesforce.com and SugarCRM plan to join the open-source foundation as it expands beyond programming.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
3 min read
The Eclipse open-source foundation is expected to announce new members and to give details of an expanding list of projects at its annual conference on Monday.

New participants Salesforce.com, an on-demand CRM (customer relationship management) provider, and SugarCRM, a sales application company, are to be welcomed into the fold at EclipseCon in Santa Clara, Calif. Attendees there can expect to hear about new projects, such as an effort based on the Eclipse Rich Client Platform, used in writing PC desktop applications.

The Eclipse Foundation oversees work on Eclipse software, which is a modular program that allows developers to write applications with several add-on products, or plug-ins, from different vendors. For example, a Java programmer can use Eclipse in conjunction with a plug-in for application modeling or performance management.

Eclipse is one of the most popular tools for Java programming, according to IT development research firm Evans Data. But in addition to it, the Eclipse Foundation has started a number of projects for other languages, such as PHP and JavaScript, and development-related tasks. The group now has 130 members, most of which are software providers.

At EclipseCon, French company Nuxeo will propose a software project that can connect applications written on the Eclipse Rich Client Platform with content management systems, said Ian Skerrett, the director of marketing at Eclipse. Another proposal, from Exadel, aims to build server applications in Java using the rich client platform, he added.

In addition, Serena Software and other companies are scheduled to show off proof-of-concept code for the Application Lifecycle Management project, an effort started last fall. The ALM project is dedicated to creating software to combine so-called lifecycle tools, such as modeling and requirements gathering tools, from different vendors.

On Monday, new member Salesforce will release AppExchange Toolkit, a set of Eclipse plug-ins. The software is for building Web applications that run alongside Salesforce's hosted service. The San Francisco-based software company has also created add-ins for Microsoft's Visual Studio.Net.

"We're really betting on two horses: We will continue to support Visual Studio.Net, and in the non-.Net world, we're going to be using Eclipse," said Adam Gross, a vice president for developer marketing at Salesforce.

At the conference, Eclipse is expected to outline its efforts to foster collaboration among members. The foundation has more than 600 committers--people who can authorize source code changes--who generally work for IT companies.

Last fall, Eclipse hired Ward Cunningham, a software programmer credited with building the first wiki application, as its director of committer community development.

In a keynote speech at EclipseCon, Cunningham will discuss plans to enhance the Eclipse software and processes with collaborative features, he said.

"We're focusing on doing a series of small things that will be bundles that include a little bit of technology, a little bit of methodology and a little bit of community, combined together," Cunningham said.

For example, Cunningham and colleagues have developed something called Eclipse Monkey, which makes it easy for software programmers to save and share prewritten scripts that automate certain tasks.

"The technique we will use will be little bundles that are easy to absorb by busy engineers," he said.