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Eclipse independence

Friday, May 13, 2005 - 03:40 by Mike Milinkovich

NetBeans just shipped their 4.1 release. Congratulations guys. By all reports it is a much better Java IDE than its predecessor releases.

But this statement included in InfoWorld’s coverage of their release certainly has me stumped:

The Sun executives also expressed doubts about whether the Eclipse Foundation actually is independent of IBM, which founded Eclipse but spun it off into a separate organization last year.

I really don’t know what more the Eclipse Foundation could possibly do to be more independent than it is. From where I sit, I cannot understand how any reasonable person could assert anything other than Eclipse is independent.

But what do you think? Is there something more that the Foundation could be doing to be independent?

I would have thought that having IBM competitors like BEA, Borland and Computer Associates would have put this to bed. Each of these companies are investing $250,000 per year and eight developers into Eclipse. Why would they possibly do that if Eclipse was IBM controlled? Believe me, those companies did their homework before they made those kids of investment decisions.

BTW — here are some numbers that you may find interesting. Since September 2004, the number of Eclipse committers who work for IBM dropped from 79% to 58%. And the percentage of top-level projects led by IBM employees dropped from 66% to 33%. And based on the new proposals that we already have in process, that will soon drop further to 22%, along with the total IBM committer ratio dropping below 50%. (I wonder what the equivalent numbers are at NetBeans?)

We here at Eclipse will gladly take every developer IBM is willing to put onto our projects. The changes in percentages above are the result of growing the Eclipse pie, not by sending away IBM contributors. That would be silly.

But anyone who takes a look at our governance model and Bylaws will not find anything that gives IBM a special position within Eclipse.

Read my lips. Eclipse is independent.