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Mike Milinkovich's vision for Eclipse and SOA

Europa, the Eclipse Foundation's second annual train release provided downloads for 21 new and updated projects this past Friday, and featured the initial release of the SOA Tools Platform (STP). But that is only the beginning of what Eclipse is planning for developers of service-oriented architecture (SOA) implementations, said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the foundation. Besides STP, Eclipse has a new proposal for a companion SOA runtime project, Milinkovich said in an interview prior to the Europa release. Agreeing with analysts that future SOA development is going to be done with either Eclipse or Microsoft Visual Studio or both, he said he is focusing on promoting interoperability between the two.

Beyond the initial release of the STP, what is Eclipse planning for the SOA?
Mike Milinkovich
We have a SOA runtime framework project that was proposed a month or so ago. This is an enterprise SOA runtime. The code is coming from Deutsche Post [AG, the German postal service and parent of DHL] and is used to run their logistics. Will the runtime be integrated with STP?
The SOA Tools Project has been talking to the SOA runtime project, so that down the road the tools will support the runtime. At this juncture the runtime project is still a proposal. It's not part of Europa, but it is part of the vision of Eclipse. What is the vision of Eclipse?
Europa is the next release cycle for delivering the vision of Eclipse as an open development platform. Within the Europa release train you have both runtimes and frameworks for developers as well as tools for developers that span all of the different platforms people are interested in building products and technologies on today, whether it be embedded devices, rich client applications, rich Internet applications or server applications. For all of these there are runtimes and tools available from Eclipse. Where do things stand now in terms of moving closer to that vision?
The goal of Eclipse is to create an open development platform. If you go through the history of Eclipse from its inception in 2001, the first release of Eclipse from a technical point of view was a Java IDE. At that time the backers of Eclipse were IBM and its close partners. The Eclipse 2.0 timeframe was 2002, 2003, you started to see Eclipse come into it's own as a tool integration platform. You started to see multiple tools on top of it and you saw a rapidly growing consortium of companies participating in the Eclipse ecosystem. The next generation came in 2004 with Eclipse 3.0 and the release of the rich client platform (RCP). Eclipse emerged as an application integration platform as well as a tool integration platform. With RCP you started seeing companies, both ISVs and enterprises, building applications and products on top of RCP. The next generation of Eclipse is extending that application integration idea, not just on the client, but across embedded devices and servers. You're seeing a number of projects at Eclipse that are just getting started that very much focus on driving the vision of Eclipse as an open development platform. It's not just about tools. It's also about runtimes and frameworks for application and product developers. That's the vision that we're marching toward. Analysts have said in the past year that SOA development will come down to working either with Eclipse or Microsoft .NET, is that a believable future as you see it?
Oh yeah. That's completely believable. The Eclipse-based tools, there's probably going to be a couple of them because different vendors are going to pick up Eclipse and come up with different flavors of Eclipse-based SOA tools. But very much, I think the world of developers has largely been Eclipse and Visual Studio for the past couple years and I don't see anything changing that any time soon.
For more information
Eclipse SOA tools ready for test drive

Check out our Eclipse Learning Guide
What about Eclipse working with Microsoft?
From my perspective we have an enormous amount of interest in providing better interoperability with the Microsoft platform. Hopefully, we can get Microsoft and or other vendors interested in working toward that vision. It's actually not an either/or. There are going to be literally millions of developers who have both Visual Studio and Eclipse installed on their desktop because they're using Visual Studio for .NET development and Eclipse for everything else. That scenario cries out for better interoperability both for individual developers and for the corporations and organizations that have to deal with the heterogeneous world. Are there ongoing contacts between Eclipse and Microsoft?
We've talked to them a few times and the conversations have been very cordial. Hopefully over the next year or so we'll actually start to see some concrete actions.

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