lunes, noviembre 07, 2011

La década de Eclipse en InfoQ

Hablamos en octubre de los diez años de historia de Eclipse, pero el artículo de InfoQ editado hoy es interesante por su crónica histórica, que destaca el gran aporte de IBM desde el comienzo:
Ten years ago today, an open-source Java development environment called Eclipse was released for both Windows and Linux. Eclipse 1.0 is still available for download for Windows (98/ME/2000/NT) and Linux (RH 7.1), along with translation packs (also provided by IBM).
The Eclipse consortium itself wasn't founded until 29th November 2001, and the Eclipse Foundation wasn't created until 2nd February 2004; so today marks the 10th anniversary of the initial release of the software rather than the organisation itself.
Eclipse 1.0 was the result of a $40 million valued donation of source code by IBM. Back at the turn of the millennium, there was a plethora of Java development environments available, such as Symantec VisualCafé, Borland JBuilder and IBM's own Visual Age for Java. However, as predominantly Java-only environments, they did not cope well initially with the advance of Servlets and HTML pages (and later, JSPs). In particular, IBM's Visual Age for Java used an object database to store source code instead of files; so it was not able to develop the nascent Enterprise Java applications that were becoming increasingly popular.

With the initial release of IBM WebSphere in June 1998 (at that time, just a Servlet engine), IBM needed a development tool to be able to complement its existing Java development tools. IBM developed WebSphere Studio to provide the HTML editing, released as far back as September 1998 with the combined release of WebSphere Studio 1.0 and WebSphere Application Server 1.1. WebSphere Studio would go on to form the foundation of Eclipse 1.0, and on 5th November 2001 was announced:
IBM's new WebSphere Studio tools are the first commercially available tools built on open source software, code-named Eclipse, which is being donated by IBM to a new community of software tool vendors. Developers working on WebSphere Studio and other Eclipse-based tools use a common, easy-to-use interface that provides a consistent "look and feel," regardless of vendor, which cuts training costs for customers.
At the time, IBM was losing developers from its flagship Visual Age for Java product. A new breed of development tools – such as Apache Ant, which was publicly released as version 1.1 in 19th July 2000 – operated purely on the Java source files. As a result, Visual Age was not able to take advantage of these or other tools built around creating dynamic websites. Other commercial tools were gaining in popularity, but each offered a slightly different interface and actions. Whether IBM's decision to release the core of WebSphere Studio as open source was driven by a means to increase familiarity with its commercial products, or whether it was a foresighted decision to enable greater collaboration between competitors, the release of Eclipse achieved two specific goals; it became a de-facto Java IDE and went on to become an organisation and tool chain supported by a multitude of different companies.
It's also worth acknowledging that Eclipse wasn't the first open-source IDE for Java; NetBeans was open-sourced in June 2000. However, whilst NetBeans was based on the less powerful (at the time) Swing, Eclipse was based on an entirely new widget toolkit that adopted the OS's own native widget set for displaying the user interface. Over time, this speed discrepancy has reduced; although SWT continues to provide better native integration than Swing renderings as operating systems have evolved.
The only other commercial Java development environment to survive from the period was IntelliJ, released in January 2001. All of the other significant commercial efforts either folded or moved towards running on an Eclipse runtime. 

The Eclipse Consortium initially consisted of Borland, IBM, Merant, QNX Software Systems, Rational Software, RedHat, SuSE, and TogetherSoft. Initially released under the IBM created Common Public License, the platform initially focussed on the Java platform with code taken from the WebSphere Studio product, which itself grew out of Visual Age Micro Edition.
Visual Age for Java was both based on and implemented with Visual Age for Smalltalk. It was not until J2ME development with the re-implementation of Visual Age for Java as Visual Age Micro Edition that the toolset was re-implemented in Java, which went on to become WebSphere Studio and then Eclipse. Visual Age for Smalltalk was inspired by the Interface Builder in Nextstep. It's also worth noting that this was all done by the Ottwa-based Object Technology International, which was acquired by IBM in 1996, which is why many of the Eclipse committers, and indeed subsequent foundation, are based in Ottwa, Canada.
With Borland, Rational and other traditional Java developers behind Eclipse, it quickly took off, reaching an average 4000 downloads/day in the first month. (IBM would later go on to acquire Rational Software during December 2002–February 2003.) QNX aimed at the embedded market, and joined in to provide CDT 1.0 in March 2003, after less than a year's development. Today, Java still leads the development pack with CDT running a close second.

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