What is "Eclipse" anyways?

One of the interesting things about Eclipse is trying to define exactly what the label means. There is no doubt that it is an overloaded term.

  • Eclipse is a plug-in based platform for building and integrating tools. And now with RCP, a platform for building and integrating applications.
  • Eclipse is a great Java IDE.
  • Eclipse is an open source community which is rapidly growing in terms of projects and committers.
  • Eclipse is an ecosystem where open source projects and commercial offerings add value on top of the work done within the Eclipse projects. The term ecosystem is sort of all-encompassing. It includes our committers, users, developers, book writers, service providers, product sales guys. You name it.

Certainly when you read about Eclipse in the press and other places, it can certainly get confusing. I got a good laugh out of this Eclipse satire posting on JavaLobby. Certainly we had a PR storm around EclipseCon that exceeded our expectations, so we deserved the shot.

But I think that one spot where the satire missed the mark was that the author clearly just thinks of Eclipse as a Java IDE. Although that misperception is definitely prevalent, the fact is that we are now clearly a community. With over forty projects on the go, we hope that there will soon be many more award winners to accompany our Java tools.

I hope that down the road the word “Eclipse” will come to mean “a great open source community that has lots of interesting and useful projects”. But these types of changes take time.

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