JAVAONE : Sun participation in Eclipse still possible

The on-again, off-again issue of having Sun Microsystems Inc. participate in the Eclipse open source tools initiative may soon be on again.

Sun’s Jeff Jackson, vice-president of Java developer tools at the company, said during the 2004 JavaOne conference last week that he will be meeting with the new executive director of Eclipse, Mike Milkinkovich, to discuss issues related to Eclipse and Sun’s own open source tools platform, NetBeans.

Asked if the Sun-joining-Eclipse issue was dead, Jackson said, “No, I don’t think it’s dead. I think we’re open to all kinds of discussions.” Sun still might join Eclipse and merge NetBeans with Eclipse, he said. “There’s always room for discussion,” Jackson said during a session entitled, “Roundtable: Great Java Minds.”

While Eclipse also has some Microsoft-related technologies, its crown jewel is its Java IDE, which has been accepted throughout the industry. Sun had been in negotiations to join the IBM Corp.-spawned Eclipse initiative late last year but dropped out after a demand that Sun abandon NetBeans.

An analyst said Sun was being arrogant in not providing a plug-in to Eclipse.

“Almost every one of the important vendors with Java IDEs plug in to Eclipse,” said analyst Rikki Kirzner, research director at IDC.

“Sun talks about interoperability and open source and they’re not doing anything,” Kirzner said.

In the same session during which Jackson revealed the planned Eclipse meeting, Sun officials again urged Linux vendor Red Hat and Microsoft to participate with technology contributions to the Java Community process. Red Hat is in an odd position where it consumes free technologies but contributes back little, said James Gosling, Sun CTO for the Sun Java Development Platform and Tools team. Red Hat officials could not be reached for a response early on Wednesday afternoon.

Sun Chairman and CEO Scott McNealy on Tuesday invited Red Hat and Microsoft to participate in the JCP.

Also during the session, Sun’s Graham Hamilton, vice-president and fellow for the Sun Java platform team, expressed interest in having Macromedia Inc.’s Flash technology and Java work together. “I feel very benevolent toward Flash,” Hamilton said.

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