Love the One You’re With

There’s been much speculation over the decision by the Eclipse Foundation’s decision to join the Java Community Process. In actuality, Eclipse decided to join three groups last week, including the Object Management Group (OMG), which is guardian of UML and other model-driven development initiatives; and OSGi, which is developing a services gateway for mobile devices.

Specifically, some are likening Eclipse’s JCP move to the US Table Tennis team’s setting the stage for Nixon’s subsequent visit to China back in the early 1970s, breaking 20 years of estrangement between the two nations. That’s because the Eclipse project has been associated with IBM, the JCP with Sun, which in this context, has been considered a surrogate for the rival NetBeans project.

Sun has previously accused IBM, which founded Eclipse, of forking Java. Meanwhile IBM chafed under Sun’s more equal-than-equal role at both the JCP, which governs Java standards, and NetBeans, an open source project for building a Java tooling framework. Given Eclipse’s success in transcending its IBM ancestry and drawing majority vendor support from the rest of the Java community, Sun mused publicly about joining Eclipse before ultimately declining to give up its lonely battle.

Astute observers, such as eWeek/Linux Watch’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, have speculated that this might be an historic opportunity for both sides to extend olive branches given the fact that everything in contention – including Java technology itself – is now in the open source domain. The conventional wisdom has always argued, if Microsoft can present a united front with the .NET framework, why can’t Java get its act together in like fashion.

When we put the question as to whether Eclipse and NetBeans are now discussing interoperability, Mike Milinkovich, who heads Eclipse, gave us a terse one-word response: “None.”

But what if love were in the air?

Well, sorry. That boat’s already sailed. The power centers of the Java world dispersed beyond IBM and Sun to the point where the love’s now all around you.

Instead, you’ve got the “Rebel Frameworks,” the ones identified several years back by Burton Group analyst Richard Monson-Haefel. Providing kinder, gentler open source “Plain Old Java Object” (POJO) alternatives to J2EE, they include simpler servlet containers like Struts and Tomcat, EJB alternatives like Hibernate, and more approachable frameworks like Spring. More importantly, with it you have a dispersal of power centers, with these various efforts controlled through the likes of Apache (an independent body), Interface21 (a consulting firm), JBoss (now a division of Red Hat) and others.

Significantly, Java EE 5 was a response to the rebel frameworks, with its simplification of EJBs plus the introduction of Java Server Faces and Java Annotations that drastically reduced coding requirements.

While the frameworks have grown simpler, the world hasn’t. We’re tempted to say that Java development has adopted the fragmentation of Linux, except that in Linux, at least you’ve got one guy who still plays god.

One thought on “Love the One You’re With”

  1. Tony,

    I couldn’t agree more. Innovation and control is now clearly dispersed in the broader Java ecosystem. And that’s actually a good thing. Much more value is created where diversity reigns than in a command-and-control economy.

    I think the only thing I would add is that Eclipse is one of the places where that dispersal has occurred. There is much innovation happening within Eclipse community projects both supported and adopted by multiple organizations.

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