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IBM donates code to help Eclipse get organized

Big Blue hopes its intellectual property will help structure an open-source foundation's development processes.

IBM said on Wednesday that it has donated code and documentation on how to organize software development projects to the Eclipse open-source foundation.

The material will form the basis for a proposed open-source project, called Project Beacon, which will be voted on within coming months, according to IBM. About 15 organizations, including commercial software companies and consulting firms, said they intend to use the software.

By giving some of its intellectual property in software development to Eclipse, IBM hopes to encourage the use of structured software development processes, or methodologies. It also stands to benefit from the work of Eclipse participants, said Roger Oberg, vice president of marketing at IBM's Rational division.

"When we'd have arguments over who has the best basic process for development, nobody wins," Oberg said. "Rather than controlling the basic process framework, we (at IBM) can leverage what the open-source community does. And other software vendors can do the same around our processes."

The donation consists of code comprising about 15 percent of the Rational Unified Process--a long-standing development methodology for setting up projects and assigning roles such as testers, programmers and project managers. IBM is also providing documentation that recommends a common set of terms, roles and tools to customize the basic process.

Developers could, for example, modify the basic Rational Unified Process to support different methodologies, such as Agile development, Oberg said.

The code donation is one of many IBM has made to Eclipse, a foundation it established as a consortium of vendors that later became an open-source establishment.

Eclipse members are, by and large, software vendors that have adopted the Eclipse software as the basis for their development tools. The Eclipse software, which has become popular among Java programmers, provides a basic framework to which other tools can be added.

For example, in the case of Project Beacon, the software would act as a plug-in for the Eclipse front-end software and could be combined with other Eclipse-based tools.