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IBMers answer call for IBM-free Eclipse

Build it and they might come

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

If Eclipse was hoping to escape its current over reliance on IBM then it's off to a slow start judging by early work on its next platform - E4, due in 2010.

Project members are meeting during the next two days at an E4 summit in Ottawa, Canada, to push on with the practical work of building E4, announced at EclipseCon in March.

Half of the 32 attendees are from IBM with the others split between Adobe Systems, Wind River, Innoopracht, and Embarcadero Technologies among others. The meeting is also taking place on IBM turf.

Seven of the original IBM committers to the proposed E4, meanwhile, are also joining this week's meeting. They are joined by two independents, from Innoopract and Code 9, from that original work.

It was IBM's dominance of this initial work on E4 that sparked criticism earlier this year, as the proposal appeared to bypass the traditional community-based open development process. This raised concerns over a lack of diversity in the project and an attempt to railroad technical decisions.

Code 9 president Jeff McAffer, one of those early committers, had said at the time this initial submission was only "intended to start discussion" and did not represent "finished code".

Eclipse executive director Mike Milinkovich said E4 was an opportunity to diversify the Eclipse community, as E4 would be new code.

IBM started Eclipse in 2001 by donating three million lines of code from its Java tools. Eighty per cent of the 170 committers on the Eclipse tools platform project are paid, full-time IBM employees, although it's not clear how many are actually considered active.

To its credit, Eclipse has wrapped in a number of new participants on E4, absent from the list in March - Adobe being the biggest name. The individuals, though, appear far out weighed by IBM, with IBMers also signing up to multiple project areas.

The architectural foundations of E4 will be a major focus of discussion with more than a dozen delegates agreeing to work on the specification. The Eclipse Application Model has also attracted significant interest.

One of the main purposes of E4 will be to bring web technologies into Eclipse. Topics under discussion include the Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) browser, a web-based IDE and client/server platform to anticipate developments in Web 2.0 applications.®

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