Microsoft announced it has joined the open-source Eclipse Foundation and Eclipse officially releases the
Eclipse Che cloud IDE.
The Eclipse Foundation is on a roll this week, opening its EclipseCon 2016 event, officially releasing its
new Che integrated development environment (IDE) and welcoming Microsoft as a member of the
Today at EclipseCon in Reston, Va., Microsoft announced its membership in the Eclipse Foundation, an
organization born to foster the development and proliferation of open-source software.
Standing in front of an image displaying the word Microsoft, a heart and the word Eclipse—as in
Microsoft loves Eclipse—Shanku Niyogi, general manager of Microsoft’s Visual Studio team, took the
stage as part of the morning keynote to announce that Microsoft was joining Eclipse to further reach out
to Java developers.
“Today, I’m happy to share that Microsoft is taking its relationship with the Eclipse community to the
next level by joining the Eclipse Foundation as a Solutions Member,” Niyogi said in a blog post. “Joining
the Eclipse Foundation enables us to collaborate more closely with the Eclipse community, deliver a great
set of tools and services for all development teams, and continuously improve our cloud services, SDKs
Niyogi noted that Microsoft delivers a number of Eclipse-based tools today. The Azure Toolkit for Eclipse
and Java SDK for Azure enable Eclipse users to build cloud applications. And with the free Team
Explorer Everywhere plug-in, developers have access to the full suite of source control, team services
and DevOps capabilities of Visual Studio Team Services from within their IDE, he said. These offerings
will continue to be maintained and shared through the Eclipse Marketplace, Niyogi added.
“We recognize the great work coming out of the Eclipse and Java developer community and appreciate
that Eclipse developer tools are used by millions of developers worldwide,” Niyogi said in his post. “We
have worked with the Eclipse Foundation for many years to improve the Java experience across our
portfolio of application platform and development services, including Visual Studio Team Services and
Ten, or even five, years ago this might have been a surprise move for Microsoft, but today this is
business as usual for the tech giant. Just yesterday, Microsoft announced it was making SQL Server
available on Linux. And these are just the most recent in a series of overtures Microsoft continues to
make toward the open-source community.
“At this point of the game, we should understand that Microsoft means business as a multi-platform and
open-source player,” said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC. “Becoming a bigger supporter of the Java
developer ecosystem brings more users to Microsoft’s powerful developer offerings like VSTS [Visual
Studio Team Services] and deployment offerings like the Azure cloud. Azure is a full-service cloud that is
intended to compete at the highest level of the market and competing on Linux is a must, not a choice.
That Microsoft products like SQL Server have to come to Linux over time is also a business must.”
Hilwa explained that Eclipse traces its roots to efforts inside IBM “to battle Microsoft’s encroaching
strength in application development, initially with the popularity of Visual Basic and later with .NET and
Visual Studio. The tools framework was turned into an open-source effort and a foundation over a decade
ago and has largely accomplished its mission of creating a set of rich tools and an ecosystem for Java.”
Thomas Murphy, a Gartner analyst, said he believes Microsoft’s joining Eclipse is small compared to the
company putting SQL Server on Linux. “Microsoft has connected to Eclipse for some time for TFS [Team
Foundation Server] and they have participated in some Eclipse meetings in the past,” Murphy said. “I
don’t think of it being a big deal other than Eclipse is still a core foundation for a lot of Java developers
and Microsoft continues to tell a story about being open.”
Yet, Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told eWEEK he’s not sure he’d call joining Eclipse
business-as-usual quite yet, though Microsoft does seem to be on a significantly different track today
than it was two or three years ago.
“The company’s stance on open source was curiously schizoid under former CEO Steve Ballmer,” King
said. “On one side, you had Ballmer calling Linux ‘a cancer’ and the company pressuring customers to
indemnify themselves against Linux code they insisted had been stolen. But a while after that, Microsoft
initiated an open-source program managed by Sam Ramji [now CEO of Cloud Foundry]. I think this new
announcement continues a drumbeat that began when Satya Nadella become CEO and provides a
counterpoint to inevitable changes in the industry.
“The fact is that 10 to 15 years ago, value was determined by how many customers a vendor had locked
into its proprietary platforms. In today’s cloud-defined world, where lightweight services define
innovation and drive market opportunity, maximally engaging with developer communities is a key to
success,” King continued.
In any event, this is clearly not the first time Microsoft has worked with Eclipse, but by becoming a
foundation member, Microsoft is demonstrating a deeper commitment to open-source processes and will
also be able to provide input on future plans and projects, King said.
Niyogi joined Tyler Jewell, CEO of Codenvy, onstage at EclipseCon to announce new Azure and Visual
Studio Team Services interoperability with Codenvy’s workspace automation tools, built on Eclipse Che.
“With Visual Studio Team Services, Azure and Codenvy, software development teams can collaborate
more easily than ever before,” Niyogi said. “Codenvy’s new Visual Studio Team Services extension
activates Codenvy workspaces on-demand from within Microsoft’s tools, creating a natural workflow that
aligns with agile methodologies and principles. The Azure VM Marketplace now includes a virtual
machine preconfigured with Codenvy, so developers can instantly provision private Codenvy workspaces
At EclipseCon, Microsoft also announced it was open-sourcing the Team Explorer Everywhere Plug-in
for Eclipse on GitHub, adding Azure IoT Suite support in the Kura framework for IoT gateways, adding
Azure Java WebApp support in the Azure Toolkit for Eclipse and updating the Azure Java Dev Center.
Niyogi also said with the Java Tools Challenge, Microsoft is inviting Java developers to build apps and
extensions for VSTS.
Meanwhile, also at EclipseCon, the Eclipse Foundation announced the initial release of Eclipse Che, its
new IDE platform. The Eclipse Che ecosystem is a community-driven open-source cloud IDE, workspace
server, and plug-in platform supported by Codenvy, Microsoft, Red Hat and SAP.
Codenvy’s Jewell said a key value of Che is that it provides a universal workspace for developers. He said
portable workspaces enable developers with on-demand development environments that support Agile
processes. With workspace portability, developers can work from any location, whether a desktop,
mobile device or the cloud.
Eclipse Che workspaces are composed of projects and Docker container-powered runtimes. Che features
a collaborative workspace server, a cloud IDE, a plug-in framework and a stack library to build projects
for any programming language or framework.
“Eclipse Che is rethinking the way IDEs are built and used by developers,” Mike Milinkovich, executive
more flexible and dynamic developer work experience. The initial feedback on Eclipse Che has been
outstanding. The number of downloads and external contributions all point to Che being an incredibly
successful open-source project.”Gartner’s Murphy said, ironically, Che is like some existing Microsoft
technology. “Most IDEs are working their way to being browser-based at a minimum and cloud-based, so
Che is the Eclipse version of—or maybe the other way around—Visual Studio Online.”
Eclipse Che is available for download at http://eclipse.org/che and contributors can get involved
at http://github.com/eclipse/che.”The Eclipse Che IDE is a cloud IDE and developer work space server
that supports any framework or programming language,” King said. “Plus, users can easily migrate
projects and associated runtimes, or environments to other local or cloud-based Che instances. In
essence, Che is designed to enhance collaborative processes by making them more flexible and adaptable
to the needs of given projects and groups. As such, it could and should enhance a range of Microsoft
projects, including those associated with Azure.”