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In the November 2001, IBM donated the Eclipse code to the open source community, and the eclipse has grown rapidly in the developer community. January 19, 2006, the Eclipse International Summit Forum also landed in China for the first time, held at Tsinghua University's information Technology building. At the Eclipse Conference, the editorial team interviewed John Kellerman, an IBM Eclipse strategy manager, listening to his retrospective of Eclipse history, analysis of Eclipse architecture, analysis of Eclipse status, and future development Prospect.
John KELLERMAN,IBM Software, general manager of Rational Products, joined IBM in 1984 and has been engaged in application development work. At the beginning of 2000, John joined the Eclipse Project and is now managing director of the IBM Eclipse strategy. His main job now is to work with Eclipse member companies in behalf of IBM in the Eclipse Foundation, the eclipse community.
Journalist:The development of IBM development tools, from the original Visual age to today's Eclipse 3.0 based products, can be said to be a very big leap, could you tell us about the history of this?
John:Before I joined the Eclipse project, I was the product manager of IBM Visual age for SmallTalk. One of the most important reasons for Eclipse's origins was that IBM was faced with some challenges that were needed to be addressed, namely, IBM Development Tools Visual age for Java and WebSphere Studio were difficult to integrate, and the underlying technology was fragile, making it difficult to develop further and cannot meet the needs of industry application development.
So in 1998, we started the next generation of development tools technology exploration, set up a project development team, after two years of development, in 2000, we decided to give a new generation of development tool project named Eclipse,eclipse name was only used internally. The business goal at this time is to hope that the Eclipse project will attract developers and develop a strong and vibrant business partner (independent software vendor) community. At the same time we are aware of the need to use it to counter the development of Microsoft Visual Studio, so from business objectives, we have the most opportunity to achieve our goals through open source. In addition, IBM launched the Eclipse trial program to allow developers outside of IBM to use Eclipse. It turns out that our decisions are right and that Eclipse has been widely circulated in the development community. Eclipse becomes the official name for this project.
We think that open source Eclipse can not simply contribute to the source code, create an open source project and put it under the open source license, we need to establish a number of corporate partnerships, otherwise it is not convincing, not a real open source project, but only a project of IBM. So between 2000 and 2001, my main job was to visit companies, talk to them about eclipse, and invite them to join the Eclipse project. As you can imagine, this is a very interesting conversation, and ultimately, we have reached a consensus with 8 companies, including some IBM rivals Webgain, Borland, and some allies such as rational (which had not been acquired by IBM).
December 2001, IBM announced to the world two things, the first is to create open source projects, IBM donated 40 million dollars worth of source to the open source community; the other thing is to set up the Eclipse Association (Eclipse Consortium), which consists of a number of member companies, the main task is to support and promote the Eclipse open source project.
From then on, we saw Eclipse itself, its members, Plug-ins (plug-in) and the eclipse community grow rapidly. In the 2003, we realized that this membership model was difficult to expand, and that some transactions were difficult to do, such as the inability to raise grants and the inability to establish a legal council, mainly because the Eclipse Society was not a legal entity, and even though Eclipse was successful, But there are still some members of the industry who are not involved, and they think that the real leader of Eclipse is IBM. So we realized that creating an IBM-independent eclipse would be very beneficial to eclipse's development, so IBM worked with other member companies to draft regulations to set up the Eclipse Foundation (Eclipse Foundation). The Eclipse Foundation was formally established in early 2004.
Journalist:Eclipse consists of a small core and a large number of plug-ins on top of the core, a plug-in architecture that brings a refreshing impact on the development community. Could you tell us something about the Eclipse plug-in architecture?
John:A good metaphor for the Eclipse plug-in architecture is the Web browser, which has plug-ins, and the Eclipse plug-in is similar to the browser to address extensibility issues. For a Web browser, if you want to browse both the multimedia animation and the PDF file, you need two different plug-ins to make sure that both content is displayed in a Web browser. Eclipse also, through its plug-in mode, we can install different plug-ins for HTML editing, database design, Java development, C + + development, and so on, all of these development work on an Eclipse installation platform. And the eclipse model can do far more than that, the key to understanding the Eclipse plug-in is to first understand the eclipse extension point, which helps you add new functionality to eclipse. For example, if you want to add an item to a menu, you are implementing it through the Eclipse extension point.
So when the Eclipse plug-in implements an extension point, an extension is created, and the extension can create its own extension points. The extension and extension points of this plug-in pattern are recursive and proved to be very flexible. Remember when we started a regional survey of Eclipse Development, one of the first decisions was: "We will eat our own dog food" (Editor's note: The proverb refers to a company that uses its own products in its day-to-day operations), that is, the Eclipse team uses eclipse to Development of Eclipse. In fact, Eclipse itself is a core runtime that binds some plug-ins built on top of plug-ins, in other words, Eclipse itself is a series of plug-ins. This plug-in pattern becomes more sophisticated as the experience of building eclipse with Eclipse builds.
Journalist:IBM has invested a lot of resources in eclipse, and what role will IBM play in the future of Eclipse?
John:With more than 100 eclipse projects, IBM is involved in more than half of the projects, and 3 executives are hosting eclipse-related work. We also sponsored some Eclipse innovation funds and Eclipse scholarships in 2005. IBM is committed to participating in Eclipse research for the next few years, and we will see IBM develop new projects and reduce participation on some Eclipse projects, which depends on IBM's business goals. We recently proposed a project called Beacon, which is about the Eclipse process framework. We will donate some of the Rational Unified Process (RUP) technology, and basically the proposal is to provide the content of the process. IBM now works with a company called Zend, which wants to develop tools for PHP in Eclipse. Looking at IBM from a commercial perspective, you'll find Eclipse as the foundation of the Rational Software development platform. In addition, because of Eclipse's plug-in model, extensibility, and integration, we build a unified platform for rational, WebSphere, Lotus, and Tivoli.
Journalist:IBM's five flagship brands now have Eclipse-based products, what is the benefit of this?
John:Our goal is to create an integrated unified platform with tools such as DB2, Rational, and WebSphere built on Eclipse, so that customers can use these tools together, with a unified interface style that is easy to use. For IBM itself, each development department can focus on the core performance development of the software without wasting resources to do some DB2 work, so that the development department focuses on database development, WebSphere dedicated application server development, Rational focus on modeling, source code control, Other aspects of ancillary development are common to Eclipse.
Journalist:Eclipse is an open source IDE, so how do you create business benefits from eclipse?
John:For IBM, it works with hundreds of companies in eclipse technology development, because IBM sees eclipse as a common, open, standard technology base that is growing in value. Of course, this basic technology will not generate revenue, no one can use Eclipse technology to make money, but it doesn't matter, like Borland, Sybase and other companies are spending money on the same build, of course, we have cooperation in this respect, But we are also focused on building our core functional components on the Eclipse platform, such as IBM's Rational application Developer, which uses eclipse as a foundation, and then adds a modeling plug-in, WEB Development plug-in, There are other more valuable plug-ins that we charge for. This is one of the patterns of business revenue generation using Eclipse.
In addition, people can build plug-ins directly for Eclipse and then sell them to make money because Plug-ins can be issued using commercial licenses. In fact, we built the Eclipse Public License so that eclipse can be used commercially, so that it can make money, and all of the eclipse's member companies are basically commercial software providers. Millions of developers around the world are using Eclipse, so Chinese developers can build valuable plug-ins and tools and then sell them. IBM also has a partner program to help partners promote applications built on the IBM Eclipse based products.
Journalist:Rich Client Platform (RCP) is currently a popular application development model, how does Eclipse support rich clients?
John:In the early days of Eclipse, some users tried to use eclipse as a more general basis for business applications, in addition to using it for the development tools infrastructure platform. They consider an IDE to be a special rich client application. That's what open source development is all about, and when these users try to use Eclipse as a generic rich client, they feed these ideas back to the Eclipse development team. In this way Eclipse has evolved from 2.0 to 2.1, receiving advice and feedback from the community, and finally to a generic stage. In Release 3.0, we felt the time was ripe for a formal declaration of Eclipse as a common rich client and IDE.
In fact, the first feedback came from our Lotus development team, who realized before Eclipse 3.0 that they could use eclipse to provide rich client versions of their Workplace clients. From Eclipse 3.0 to 3.1 to 3.2, we see a rapid growth in the application of rich client platforms, as well as more and more feedback to help us improve.
One of my most admired RCP applications was a demo on Eclipsecon 2005, which was a demonstration of NASA's project, when NASA had a lab in California State called Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), In charge of the Mars Exploration Program, their management user interface is an Eclipse RCP application, through which California State staff can control the Martian rover running on Mars. In the demo, someone asked why Eclipse was used, and the answer was, using the eclipse technology, they didn't have to worry about it, and they saved a lot of taxpayers ' money, because they only needed to focus on the resources to develop and control the application of the rover.
Journalist:Eclipse is now very popular, do you think it is easy to move from Microsoft's development platform to eclipse?
John:The problem can be explained in two ways, one for software providers moving from Visual Studio to Eclipse, and the other for porting programs developed on the Microsoft platform.
Eclipse offers different integration methods, which can be very lightweight integration, that is, simple invocation and return. Eclipse can handle ActiveX controls so that Word, Excel can be opened in Eclipse, which is another integration pattern. Some vendors choose to encapsulate their tools in the Java layer, which is to keep the C + + tools and encapsulate them in Java to communicate with Eclipse. If the software vendor wants to build the tools into an Eclipse plug-in, then we usually recommend that you implement it in eclipse with Java, because almost all Microsoft tools are C + + tools. Therefore, the migration of tools can be divided into three steps: lightweight integration, heavyweight integration, and re-implementation.
If you want to migrate programs, Eclipse provides some facilities. But the ease of use depends on what tools the program developed, because the most important part is the code library itself, which is much easier if the code base supports both Visual Studio and Eclipse. In addition, some companies provide migration systems that can be viewed in the Community section of the Eclipse Web site.
Journalist:How can they participate in the ECLIPSE project for individual developers?
John:Eclipse is completely open, anyone can participate, the easiest way to get involved is to focus on its newsgroups, select an area of interest, then download the code, do some experiments on your own, and answer a few questions on the newsgroup, so that as technology improves, you can submit bugs to Bugzilla. and fix packages, or to fix other bugs. If approved by the project team, it can assume some of the project's obligations and become a true member of the project development team. You can also write articles to the Eclipse organization, participate in the local Eclipse user group, and so on.
If you are interested in setting up an Eclipse open source project, Eclipse has a document, "Eclipse Development Process," that describes how to operate.
Journalist:Finally, would you please tell us about the next version of Eclipse?
John:Eclipse 3.2 is scheduled to be available this June, with the name Callisto, and choosing Callisto as the name is community-specific, because the goal is to release 10 major eclipse projects at the same time to support the ecosystem needs of member companies, who will be putting the Eclipse box Racks into their respective software products.
Journalist:Thank you for your acceptance of our interview.
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