James Governor's Monkchips

Nokia joins Eclipse: Sun’s Goat Song

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Come on Sun.

Nokia just announced plans to push Eclipse towards J2ME (MIDP) development. Its surely time to start making business, rather than ideological decisions.

Its about participation. If you don’t participate then you’re not part of the conversation. If you’re not part of the conversation then you can’t influence the market. Are you going to be an active contributor or just end up wondering how come this fertile field is being ploughed, seeded and nurtured by someone else?

 “This important step enables us to simplify our creation of tools and further harmonize our development tools offering across all Nokia software platforms. We expect to benefit from open source innovation and to create interest and active participation in Nokia-led mobile tools projects for the benefit of all members of the Eclipse community.”

netBeans is never going to play the role that Nokia just defined. Sun must start parsing Eclipse and working out where and how to play. A blanket refusal makes less sense by the day. netBeans is a neat IDE with some cool new functions. It is certainly worth considering for some application development needs. It is not however the once and future plug-in architecture.

The Nokia announcement should act as a wake up call, the latest of many…. For Sun’s plans for mobility to play out, you need to be part of the architecture of participation for mobile services.

On a related note the new Nokia 770 looks very cool. A lot of the applications are likely to be Java-based. Wanna play? Nokia has its market share mojo back. Wanna play?

Sun might argue that it will benefit from Nokia’s new Eclipse positioning, because wireless carriers such as Orange, Verizon and Vodafone will potentially want to work more closely with Sun to avoid Nokia influence over their business models. But to bet everything against Nokia in the wireless space doesn’t sound like a good bet to me.

Well what do you say, Simon, this sounds like a question for the chief open source officer? [Incidentally, why hasn’t Sun put out a press release about your new role? The blogosphere can’t do everything in corporate comms you know. A Sun corporate press release would do a lot to show the company is serious about the OSO.]

Here’s a final thought. Eclipse is competition to .NET, not Java or netBeans.

What if Eclipse was never intended as a netBeans or Sun killer? What if the name referred to something else entirely? What if Sun has been fighting a straw man ever since, excluding itself from markets in the process? What if Sun is fulfilling a prophecy that it, rather than a competitor, made? What if Sun is the company in danger of eclipsing itself. That would be a fine example of goat-song, wouldn’t it?


  1. Have you noticed that Nokia also ships applications built on NetBeans? Seems like they’re a fairly equal-opportunity player.

    How about a change – a little healthy skepticism from analysts about Eclipse once in a while. Isn’t that what you guys are supposed to do? The mobility pack for NetBeans is years ahead of anything that Eclipse has or is going to have in the near future. Getting even close is not something any number of developers are going to be able to do quickly. Ditto for Matisse. When Microsoft announces vaporware, do you also treat that as being real software people can use today? Why the special treatment for Eclipse?

    For all the noise about what a big happy family Eclipse is (which naturally nobody ever questions or investigates…oh yeah, Eclipse is one of your clients, it wouldn’t be in your interest to look too closely at that…), have you guys never heard of Brooks Law? Adding more developers to a project tends to make it later. There is less, not more reason to suspect there will be decent mobile tools for Eclipse any time soon. Or a gui builder – even if they get anywhere in the ballpark with Matisse in a year or two (and assuming Matisse stops improving), it will never ever work on the Mac because of (probably unsolvable) SWT problems there. Case in point: the Eclipse web tools project – buggy and late. And nowhere near what NetBeans offers in that area either.

    Why is it that whenever any tool produces a new feature, or does something better than Eclipse, there is a chorus of “Oh, don’t worry, there are so many companies working on Eclipse, they’ll surely have all that and a bag of chips any day now”?

    More importantly, why is that chorus coming from analysts who ought to know better? I didn’t think an analysts’ job was to make vaporware announcements!

    There is no evidence that that actually happens. It hasn’t happened once yet. It’s pure speculation and wishful thinking. It’s a way to pacify the unwashed masses so they won’t be dissatisfied with the poorer support they get in Eclipse. Isn’t any sort of critical thinking ever applied? Do you guys do something other than cheerleading?

    Do you really think it would be better for developers or the industry for there to be only one developer tool anybody uses? And do you think that One Tool should be based on an open source effort whose main selling points are that they’re not interested in standards and that their governance can be bought?

    Do you really think the world is going to run out of either developers or ISVs who are not using Eclipse? So everybody not marching in lockstep should commit hari-kari? Perhaps your next post could trumpet the approaching end or history and the impending tribulations. I better go download Eclipse and become one of the saved.

  2. J,

    I think you missed James point. Yes NetBeans has some cool stuff and yes there are some very smart Sun developers working on NetBeans but Sun can’t solve all of the worlds problems with NetBeans.

    The Eclipse open source model is to have experts in certain areas to work on different problem domains, not just employees from one company. For example, who better to do JBoss integration, Sun employees or JBoss employees?

    As for Brooks Law, I don’t think it really applies. Eclipse is now 50 different open source projects, not one big development team. Each project can work very independently and use the published apis and extension points of the platform. This seems to work pretty well so far, since we just shipped 8 different projects within 30 days based on 3.1.

    Ian Skerrett
    Eclipse Foundation

  3. Oh my my. You really need to do your homework mate. You end up looking like a right idiot when you run about proclaiming success to Eclipse like this without checking the facts and history first. I think you should check you have your clothes on *before* leaving the house tomorrow!

    The NetBeans Platform is the king of desktop application frameworks.
    Check out http://www.netbeans.org/about/third-party.html for a list of people building ontop of this platform.
    Nokia has built ontop of the NetBeans for close to 3 years now. It sure took Eclipse a long time to catch up!

    Does Eclipse platform really compare to this feature list?
    I don’t think so.

    Oh, did I forget to mention Eclipse runs like sh*t on linux 😉 What ever happened to 100% Java inferring platform independence? I guess IBM threw that baby out the window with the bath water.

  4. James, I’m obviously biased, but ditto.

  5. Sun can’t solve all of the worlds problems with NetBeans.

    Is Sun trying to? Will Eclipse solve all the worlds problems? Are you forgetting that NetBeans is also open source?

    Nokia contributes to NetBeans. Other companies (I think even JBoss) contribute to NetBeans. Did you expect them to stop?

    And that may be the real key: When a company “joins” Eclipse and the bands march down the street and the ticker tape flies and the press releases flow and the shouting in the streets starts and dollar signs fly (all of it, of course, a pure grassroots phenomenon), folks like you, James, assume it means that:

    The company is advocating Eclipse
    The company wants you to use Eclipse
    The company doesn’t want you to use anything but Eclipse
    The company is abandoning support for other tools

    They’ve got you fooled. I have no doubt Ian knows that one of the benefits to Eclipse of all the roar and thunder is exactly that it makes that impression. What surprises me is that you take it at face value and look no deeper.

    Any company doing that would be doing exactly what you accuse Sun of – making ideological, rather than business decisions. Do you really think they’re doing that?

  6. aha. i just discovered i am not getting notifications about new comments. sorry everyone for not responding. i will parse some of this and post accordingly asap.

    i have already publicly stated that netbeans is ahead on web tools, so that critique is somewhat unfair.

    and Nokia building on netbeans and now shifting its attentions to Eclipse is a pretty clear indicator isnt it?

    Of course Eclipse is open source.

    anyway more thoughts coming.

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