The Eclipse project doesn’t figure very much in these posts, but that’s purely because my main focus here is not on developers. It is in no way a reflection of the importance and stature of Eclipse within the open source world. On the contrary, for many years I’ve always considered it one of the key data points that open source not only works, but works everywhere – that it’s not just a couple of interesting but isolated successes in the shape of the Linux kernel and the Apache Web server.
Of course, that argument is probably unnecessary these days now that Android completely dominates the mobile field, and Linux is being deployed widely and routinely at the heart of just about every new application. By contrast, it is Windows that is increasingly regarded as a one-off winner on a legacy platform of very little relevance to the future of computing.
Given that background, it’s great to see Eclipse celebrating its first ten years recently:
The Eclipse Foundation today marked its tenth birthday. Originally created as a consortium when IBM released the Eclipse Platform into open source in 2001, the Eclipse Foundation was formed as an independent, not-for-profit, and vendor-neutral organization and announced on February 2, 2004. Since that time, the Eclipse Foundation has grown from 19 projects and 50 members to 247 projects and 205 members. Eclipse’s collaborative governance model has led to the creation of a number of collaborative working groups in industries and technologies such as aerospace, automotive, geospatial and the Internet of Things.
Originally focused on providing an extensible platform for building desktop software development tools, the Eclipse community has grown to cover a wide range of technologies, including rich client platforms, modeling, web-based development tools, Java server runtimes, and frameworks, protocols and tools for the Internet of Things.
As that makes clear, one of the most impressive aspects of the entire Eclipse project has been its willingness to re-invent itself and expand into new domains. That again is a wonderful demonstration of open source’s vitality, and its ability to grow organically to embrace new areas. The success of Eclipse in doing so offers a wonderful counterpoint to certain large computer companies that have not.