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Eclipse Conference Brings Together People, Processes

I had the opportunity last week to represent my employer, Progress Software, at the Eclipse Members Conference in Chicago last week (Fawcette Technical Publications is also an associate member). I was able to attend only the first day of the two-day meeting, which included a quick start meeting for new members, followed by an afternoon-long marketing symposium.

Few of us will get to attend a set of meetings like this; Eclipse members are generally commercial software companies, although there is also a category of member known as a strategic consumer, which is a user organization that pays the membership fees and commits to a certain amount of development effort to support the Eclipse Foundation. And, of course, individual developers can also become active in Eclipse, as individual members or as committers.

But most users of Eclipse don't fall into that category, and may lack the larger perspective of the platform and its goals and direction. The number of major projects being undertaken by Eclipse members is pretty impressive, and includes the various Eclipse Platform projects, the Web Tools project, the Test and Performance Platform, and the Data Tools project.

My sense is that the Eclipse Foundation is remarkably focused on moving Eclipse forward. There seems to be little in the way of ego within the ongoing discussions between the Foundation and its members. Certainly the members have their own agendas for working on Eclipse projects, but the Eclipse approach seems to preclude the worst abuses of vendor lock-in and upgrade hell.

What does this mean for Java developers? First, Eclipse continues to drive down the cost of development tools. The freely available Eclipse tools provide the majority of what developers need to get their jobs done. Free or low-cost plug-ins can provide much of the rest.

Second, Eclipse is keeping the tools vendors honest. There is no way that any one vendor can enforce a feature set or pricing structure that forces developers to pay through the nose. While you have to wonder if any vendor can make this model work for them over the long haul, it is great for developers looking for the best tools at the lowest cost today.

Posted by Peter Varhol on 09/25/2005 at 1:15 PM

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