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Why we watch Eclipse

Michael Meehan discusses the growing use of Eclipse and's upcoming features relating SOA and Eclipse to the future of Web services.

Everywhere you look these days you see Eclipse. It's got tools for everything. It branched into PHP last year, now it's moving into Ajax and this summer it will release its first set of SOA tools.

Ambition is not lacking inside the offices of the Eclipse Foundation. It has changed the very nature of how applications get built, building concepts like agility and integration into what has rapidly become the development environment of choice for many coders.

In fact, Eclipse is proving a wildly successful subversive agent, taking developers comfortably outside their traditional comfort zone. It probably helps that Eclipse is tools focused and isn't beholden to a single vendor platform. Much of what gets discussed in the development world is theoretical. Take service-oriented architecture for example, it's a way of doing things, a set of guiding principles.

SOA manifests itself in the way services/applications get built and managed. It aims for ubiquity. As long as we're talking theory, the theoretical "end of SOA" is when it achieves complete ubiquity, rendering any mention of it redundant. Then it will just be a seamless part of application development.

Eclipse is a concrete compliment to SOA. It puts modularity to work. At EclipseCon 2007 this week, Eclipse officially enters the Ajax space with an Ajax platform, an Ajax framework and a toolkit for hot scripting languages like Ruby and Python. It's yet another case of Eclipse taking the theoretical and making it concrete. In this situation it's putting out Ajax tools that can be part of composite application development.

If you want to assemble a Web service using a lot of different functionality, Eclipse is giving you tools that allow you plug it all together. It will be following with it's first set of SOA tools this summer. We'll be talking with Eclipse Foundation Mike Milinkovich this week about how Eclipse has been taking supposedly radical concepts and turning them into handy tools for the development community.

For those looking to ramp up on some of these topics, we've got our Eclipse Learning Guide and Ajax Learning Guide.

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