Landmark day in the history of Eclipse

Eclipse Foundation gets ACM honour

Chris Mayer

The Eclipse Foundation has received a prestigious honour, the Software System Award, from the Association for Computing Machinery to put it amongst the pantheon of greats

Today, the Association for Computing Machinery has announced that Eclipse are the latest recipients of the Software System Award, recognising their decade of influence within the development world.

To put this into context, previous winners of the award include Java, Apache, Mosaic, the World Wide Web, Smalltalk, and UNIX. We can all agree that these innovative products stand in elite company for the way they’ve revolutionised the software industry and beyond over the years. As you can see, the crème de la crème of computing.

The award criteria for the Software System Award is as follows:

Awarded to an institution or individual(s) recognized for developing a software system that has had a lasting influence, reflected in contributions to concepts, in commercial acceptance, or both.

We congratulate the entire Eclipse Foundation on this accolade – a richly deserved one for continually pushing the Eclipse tooling platform and plug-in model onto higher ground.

Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation, Mike Milinkovich wrote on his blog about Eclipse’s rise from humble beginnings to what we know today and most importantly congratulated the entire Eclipse ecosystem on this award:

The names listed on the award are a who’s who of the original Eclipse development team from IBM who built Eclipse. They are: John Wiegand, Dave Thomson, Gregory Adams, Philippe Mulet, Julian Jones, John Duimovich, and Kevin Haaland; now at Oracle: Stephen Northover; and now at Microsoft: Erich Gamma. Congratulations to all of them for such a well-deserved recognition. But also congratulations to the whole team. Obviously, not every single contributor could be named, but this award is a recognition of what was achieved by all involved.

On a personal note, it is incredibly gratifying to me to see many of my former OTI colleagues recognized for their contributions to the field of computer science and to the industry as a whole. I still believe that OTI was one of the finest software engineering teams ever assembled.

Right from the start, Eclipse tore the rulebook up. When building the tooling platform from 1999-2001, the vision of creating a modular architecture across the board had never been fully realised before. Eclipse’s sucess has also been down to recognising other technologies too – as it rehosted its plug-in system to the OSGi standard. Speaking of which, there isn’t as good a plugin model as Eclipse, and that in itself is a huge achievement.

Milinkovich went on further to state Eclipse’s impact:

In terms of its industry impact, it is hard to over-state what Eclipse has accomplished since 2001. First of all, it was an important strategic move by IBM to promote the success of Java by consolidating Java tooling around an open, extensible and professional quality platform – something no other company was willing or capable of doing. Its importance as an endorsement for open source was incredibly valuable. It demonstrated that even large and conservative organizations saw the business value in forging open source platforms and communities.

Today IBM includes Eclipse in over 500 shipping products. But Eclipse broke ground in other ways as well. To the best of my knowledge, Eclipse was the first open source project to consciously create an industry consortium and commercial ecosystem around an open source platform. We now take this model for granted, and new organizations such as OpenStack consciously emulate it. But it was ground-breaking at the time, and a key part of the industry-wide success of Eclipse.

This nod from software luminaries represents the key part Eclipse has played in pushing open source to of the top agenda but also the vibrant ecosystem that has developed around the key platform. Without them, Eclipse wouldn’t be the wildly successful beast it is today, with at least one tool featuring heavily in any given developer’s working environment.

With over 1,000 developers and 100 companies heavily involved, it’s easier to see why Eclipse is so important. So once again, we congratulate the entire team of pioneers on playing a part in their success and also wish them the greatest success for the future – hopefully for the next decade as well.

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