It's Jaw-Jaw and War-War for Java and NetBeans

New membership, old rules

Small picture of Mike Milinkovich

It's business as usual between Eclipse and NetBeans, despite Eclipse's decision this month to join the Java Community Process (JCP).

Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse executive director, told that The Register the Eclipse and NetBeans tools environments will continue to compete as separate entities. NetBeans uses the Swing Java toolkit that is developed through the activities of the JCP, while Eclipse is based on Single Widget Toolkit (SWT) Java architecture.

Indeed, Eclipse is set to ramp up the competition in terms of technology and level of community support, with the simultaneous release this summer of 22 Eclipse projects for the first time under an initiative called Europa.

This is designed to ensure a high degree of interoperability between different projects - spanning Aspect Oriented Programming (AOP), team-based programming, and rich clients - and increase reliability.

That's intended to help Eclipse raise its game as a commercial platform, targeting independent software vendors and customers.

"We have an amazing culture that values predictability. We are interested in more commercial adoption, and predictability is the value adopters are looking for. They want to know they can rely on the schedule coming from Eclipse," Milinkovich said.

In recent months Sun has added many enterprise-class features to NetBeans from its Studio suite, a fact that last week earned NetBeans faint praise from the Burton Group, who politely told InfoWorld NetBeans has become a "more viable alternative" to Eclipse. The emphasis here is on "more". Instead, NetBeans has been dinged for not following Eclipse and reaching outside the IDE into broader areas of development and lifecycle management.

While Milinkovich ruled out convergence between Eclipse and NetBeans, killing one very healthy piece of conjecture over possible outcomes from Eclipse joining JCP, it remains unclear why Eclipse signed up in the first place. There's already a lot of overlap between the two groups, as individual- and company level Eclipse members also participate in JCP activities.

Officially, it's now all about giving back to the Java community, having taken advantage of its specifications and technologies since 2001.

According to Milinkovich, Eclipse is "still looking to see what it would take for Eclipse committers to get involved in JSRs [Java Specification Requests] and expert groups." Issues around intellectual property are "very complex," he noted.

For the record, Milinkovich - once again - extended his offer to Sun to join Eclipse. ®

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