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BEA Joins Eclipse

UPDATED: BEA Systems said it has joined the Eclipse Foundation and will invest $1.5 million in money, code and personnel in the open source group each year.

The software company will join the consortium as a strategic developer and board member, said Bill Roth, vice president of product marketing at BEA. In related news, Dublin, Calif.-based Sybase also joined Tuesday as a strategic developer.

Roth said on a conference call that BEA will also serve as co-lead of the Web Tools Platform project at Eclipse, as well as proposing a Language Development Tools project to create a multi-language software compiler.

The next version of BEA WebLogic Workshop, code-named Daybreak, will support the Eclipse framework. Daybreak, which Roth said has not set timetable yet, will be tailored to help developers using to have full access to the Eclipse platform as they develop their service-oriented architectures (SOA) .

"What we hope to do is bring the ease-of-use we brought into the Java tools community via our Workshop product into the Eclipse community," Roth said.

BEA programmers will also work on blending the application-oriented programming (AOP) project AspectWerkz (part of the BEA JRockit development team) with the Eclipse AspectJ project.

AOP allows properties of a program to determine how it may be executed. Roth said BEA hopes its work here will provide a single, unified platform for AOP. The delivery of AspectJ 5 in the first half of 2005 is expected to contain full support for the new features in Java 5.

Lastly, BEA is offering a free profiler and memory-leak detector for its JRockit software as plug-ins for Eclipse.

After years of resistance, the San Jose, Calif. company's plunge into Eclipse was telegraphed last year when BEA donated Workshop as an open source application framework through the Apache Software Foundation, called Project Beehive.

BEA seemed poised for bigger things after garnering praise and support for a more open approach. Later, Java software maker Instantiations provided code for a project to connect Apache Beehive to the Eclipse project.

The code, a set of plug-ins and user interfaces dubbed Eclipse Pollinate, enables J2EE developers to create advanced applications using Beehive for their networks in the Eclipse IDE .

ZapThink analyst Ronald Schmelzer applauded the news.

"It's great that BEA has joined Eclipse and shown, as a result, their commitment to heterogeneity," Schmelzer said. "More specifically, it seems the company now realizes that their platform, as a whole, needs to play in the world of heterogeneity, and I think we can expect to see more announcements like this one on Eclipse that shows how their products will fit in an increasingly service-oriented, heterogeneous world."

What is of interest, Meta Group analyst Thomas Murphy said, is that BEA's move to join Eclipse will result in new synergies between old foes, pointing to BEA's work on AspectWerkz and IBM's work on AspectJ. Ironically, BEA had resisted joining Eclipse for years because it was founded and led by IBM before being spun out last year.

Murphy said a bigger issue lies ahead for Eclipse, which is rooted in Java , and stands in stark opposition to Microsoft and its .NET platform.

"The big issue here is: can the community pull together or is it going to fragment?" Murphy wondered. "Everyone except for Sun has some interplay with Eclipse, and beyond Sun, Oracle and a couple small players, Eclipse is the standard IDE."

"It is bigger than that, though. Eclipse isn't just an IDE. It is the foundation for a run-time platform, it is a meta data framework and collaboration foundation. Java's value proposition is interoperability and portability, and this is driven by standards. Without these, the network effect for Java is diminished and this is good for Microsoft and its .NET platform."

Eclipse is expected to show off progress of its various projects at the EclipseCon 2005 conference next week in Burlingame, Calif.