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The Eclipse Foundation wants to know who is using Eclipse and how they are using it ahead of next year's planned mega release.

One of the main innovations in the Eclipse Foundation's Ganymede synchronized release of 24 projects this year, out today, is a feature called Usage Data Collector (UDC).

Eclipse Foundation executive director Mike Milinkovich told The Register he hoped the UDC will finally put some numbers on Eclipse usage. A major problem for all open source projects is knowing exactly who's using the software and where it's being employed.

The primary aim of the data collected will be to help shape the future development of Eclipse and help to build what Milinkovich called 'a network of niches'.

He also believes UDC might give Eclipse further ammunition against Sun Microsystems' rival NetBeans.

"The NetBeans supporters have some good sport comparing themselves to us - but really its not a fair comparison. NetBeans is a commercial Sun product and they should really be comparing it to products built on top of Eclipse. A recent survey [sign up required] from Evans Data shows, for example, that developers rank Eclipse products the best," Milinkovich said.

The only slight problem with all of this?

No one, least of all those in open source, like their tools or their desktop spying on them. Therefore, UDC is an optional mechanism that'll be built into Eclipse components in order to gather data about how the software is used and combined with other components. This caveat means the data might not be comprehensive.

What ever UDC's short comings, the data will be gathered as Eclipse prepares for next summer's, mega release. Milinkovich said 2009 will see another synchronized release of multiple projects following on from this year's Ganymede, and it could also include some early glimpses of E4 - the next generation of Eclipse scheduled for 2010.

"I don't know yet which moon of Jupiter we will be using next year - but we expect there to be a big release train and there could be some preliminary work from E4 in it," Milinkovich said.

The only major Jupiter moon name left is Io - Callisto, Europa and Ganymede having been used up.

According to the minutes of an Eclipse council meeting in January 2007, the name Io was agreed for the 2009 release - but it could be a confusing choice and has not been confirmed. Jupiter has, however, plenty of other satellite names to choose from.®

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