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Eclipse worms into Apple Cocoa, iPhone

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Apple Macs, iPhones, and other mobile devices are being pulled into the open-source tools universe of Eclipse, a group whose genesis can be traced to enterprise Java and C/C++.

The project today released Eclipse 3.5, codenamed Galileo, which wraps 33 projects in an integrated release. For the first time, the bundle can be downloaded for development of Cocoa Mac applications destined for deployment on 32-bit and 64-bit Apple systems.

Eclipse pumps out an integrated bundle of its tools and runtime projects each June, but past editions were only available for Apple's Carbon, in addition to the usual Linux and Windows.

Eclipse executive director Mike Milinkovich told The Reg that Eclipse has seen greater adoption of Mac's to build enterprise applications and he expects a further boost with the availability of 64-bit. Downloads of Eclipse on Windows have started to decline.

Mac accounts for five per cent of Eclipse downloads while Windows has slipped from 90 per cent to 80 per cent. Linux, meanwhile, is on 14 per cent of downloads.

Native Cocoa API support comes as Eclipse members also spin up Blinki, a project to build application-development tools for Apple's iPhone. It's early days for Blinki, but a requisite will be that it works with WebKit, used in Apple's iPhone Safari browser.

It's unclear whether Blinki will make it into the next major Eclipse update, codenamed Helios and expected next June. Helios' features are expected to be announced this fall.

Blinki is set to be the Eclipse Foundations' second mobile phone project, following Pulsar that makes its debut with Eclipse 3.5. Pulsar is a Java 2 Micro Edition (Java 2 ME) tooling environment based on the ubiquitous open-source Java framework and is backed by Motorola, Nokia Genuitec, IBM, RIM and Sony Ericsson Mobile.

Notably, Genuitec is also part of the Eclipse working group cooking Blinki. The objective for Pulsar is to extend the environment to native and HTML mobile applications. Announcements on Pulsar are planned this autumn.

Mobile vendors have long been Eclipse participants and used Eclipse as the basis for their own IDEs. But rhe success of the iPhone and the rise of Android from search giant Google - an Eclipse member - seems to have made handset companies realize that it's better to cooperate on more generic Eclipse-based environments, to win developers that might otherwise build exclusively for the iPhone or Android.

"Many technology companies are waking up to the importance of having a well run developer marketing organization and reaching the develops and making sure they have what they need to work with their platforms. And as part of that, many are realizing Eclipse is a really good opportunity to do that," Milinkovich said.

"If you are building a developer franchise Eclipse has millions of developers, particularly Java developers, a growing franchise in PHP, and a developing footprint in C and C++. If you want to reach those developers, leveraging Eclipse is the fastest way to do that."

You can see the full list of Eclipse 3.5 packages and projects here

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