Eclipse Critique

Quo Vadis Eclipse? Part Three

Sebastian Meyen, Hartmut Schlosser

The final installment of our analysis of all things Eclipse.

In the last of our three part deep-dive into everything Eclipse,
we take a look at what we can expect from the Eclipse Foundation in
the future…….

Quo vadis Eclipse Foundation?

As a model for creating a vital Open Source ecosystem,
representatives of the Eclipse Foundation have repeatedly referred
to the Open Source Maturity Model of Tony Bailetti
(Illustration 2: Open Source Maturity Curve. Bailetti recently
presented the model in an Eclipse Summit Europe keynote.)
Bailetti’s model describes the increasing value for enterprises
that are involved in an Open Source ecosystem in five stages (see
box: Model of the maturing process of an Open Source

According to Bailetti, an evaluation of 163 members of the
Eclipse Foundation revealed that the majority of enterprises that
comprise the Eclipse ecosystem are currently stuck at stage 2 or 3.
Collaborations of whole companies (stage 4: “Co-create”) should
therefore be the next step in the maturing process of Eclipse.

 Illustration 2: Open Source Maturity Curve.

In an interview with Eclipse Magazine 4.10 Mike Milinkovich
confirmed the relevance of this model for the strategic activities
of the Eclipse Foundation. Similar to the situation at the
beginning of the 21st century, when a number of companies joined
forces to support Eclipse as a development platform, the Foundation
currently appears to be working towards a process of platform
building in new areas. The oft-quoted concept of the Industry
Working Groups (see, e.g., the
Roadmap 2008 and the Eclipse Magazine 4.09) aims to create new
platforms through cross-company co-operations. These platforms, as
Milinkovich remarks, could even get their own branding: ‘Pulsar,’
the Eclipse-based mobile platform, the Eclipse-based SOA platform
for building on service oriented architectures – or EclipseRT, the
Runtime Platform, which has yet to be consolidated. Whether this is
the right move, remains to be seen.

However, the idea of a teleological fulfilment of the stage
model, in the sense that a growth in the Eclipse ecosystem
automatically results in the companies graduating from one stage to
the next, seems naïve. What we rather can experience empirically is
the different players in the Eclipse ecosystem settling into one of
the stages according to their business models, and remaining

Be that as it may, what can often be observed resembles the
fight for survival of formerly flourishing Eclipse enterprises. In
the midst of this is the Eclipse Foundation, who seems to be
increasingly moving into new fields within the ecosystem, in the
interests of self-preservation. Although a self-proclaimed
not-for-profit organisation, it is one that – according to the
roadmap – seeks to diversify its mode of
income: “It is a goal of the Eclipse Foundation to ensure revenue
sources from multiple types of organizations, and seek other
sources such as events and sponsorships.”

As a company in the Eclipse ecosystem, can you be sure that your
own business idea is not going to be swallowed up by the Eclipse
Foundation, in an effort to self-finance? The situation in regard
to the gratis distributions is indeed delicate. The media and event
organisation sector is seeing a similar trend. (see box: “Interview
with Masoud Kamali”).

The Eclipse Foundation has achieved, with overwhelming success,
its original goal of making Eclipse No.1 amongst the Java
development platforms. In need of a new orientation, the Foundation
is currently trying to bring itself back into play, via the
occupation of new fields.

The question is this: are the current efforts within the
Foundation signs of a successful new orientation that will
re-vitalise the Eclipse ecosystem? Or, is the Eclipse Foundation,
after losing its original impetus, now struggling to find

Interview with Masoud Kamali

Eclipse Magazine: You are the founder of a
publishing company and organiser of conferences that deal with
Eclipse-based topics. Therefore, you are also part of the Eclipse
ecosystem. Can you describe your cooperation with the Eclipse
Foundation, over the last few years?

Masoud Kamali: We always had a strong Eclipse
track at the JAX conferences. In 2006, we held our first Eclipse
Forum Europe, our independent Eclipse conference, which focused on
informing about Eclipse technologies and providing networking
possibilities for companies within the Eclipse environment. We
produced the first, and still the only worldwide, Eclipse Magazine,
in addition to numerous books and online portals, and, thus contributing to the development and popularity
of the Eclipse ecosystem.

But regrettably, I have to admit that the cooperation with the
Eclipse Foundation has been rather problematic in recent years.

With Eclipse Summit Europe 2007, the Eclipse Foundation started
its own conference in exactly the same catchment area as our
Eclipse forum, i.e Southwest Germany. Originally, it was stated
that the Foundation planned to organise conferences in various
locations – Germany, France, Great Britain, etc. But, there was no
real coordination with us – and it turned out that the Summit was
to take place in Ludwigsburg every year.

The question is what the Foundation is trying to achieve. With
regards to Eclipse, Germany is a rather saturated market. Community
Building would be more relevant in France, Eastern Europe, London,
or elsewhere.

In addition, we were guaranteed that the Eclipse Summit would
remain within the sphere of Community Building and Networking. The
areas of further training, know-how and knowledge transfer would be
left to the different Eclipse Foundation partners, so as not to
encroach on their business opportunities. To our disappointment,
the Summit clearly incorporated elements of training and knowledge
transfer, right from the beginning.

In brief, the Eclipse Summit Europe developed into an event that
competed with ours, but we did not have a reliable contact with
whom we could reach an agreement. For me, it seems as if the
Foundation has no clear concept, or reliable planning, in regards
to what it wants to achieve within the area of Community Building:
conferences, magazines, books, etc.

Eclipse Magazine: How do you assess the
activities of the Eclipse Foundation?

Masoud Kamali: The Eclipse Foundation itself is
a so-called not-for-profit organisation, but naturally there are
always those who profit from its activities, and may it be the
officials themselves. In the end, the Foundation earns money like
every other company. In the last Eclipse Roadmap it was clearly
stated that the organisation wants to make profit from their
conferences. As a member of the Eclipse Foundation, it needs to be
asked why the Foundation does not cooperate with partners who
specialise in this sector. Anyway, for us as a publishing company,
membership in the Eclipse Foundation did not pay off.

Bio: Masoud Kamali is the founder and CEO of
Software & Support Media and for many years acted as editor in
chief of the Enwickler Magazin and the dot.NET Magazin. Masoud
Kamali is also the publisher of Eclipse Magazin and the organiser
of conferences such as JAX, BASTA! and Eclipse Forum Europe.


Sebastian Meyen, Hartmut Schlosser

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