IBM Corp has expressed measured support for a Sun Microsystems Inc-backed Java tools project, tempered with concern over the group’s structure and objectives.
IBM said it would adopt the work of Java Tools Community (JTC), announced last week, if the group is successful and the IBM-dominated Eclipse consortium supports APIs.
However, IBM believes much of the JTC’s structure and project deliverables are still lacking, adding these must be quickly established in order to properly measure the group’s success.
IBM is echoing concerns of fellow JTC-abstainer and tools rival Borland Software Corp, which believes the group’s formation is premature. Borland said both its internal structure and external relationship to the Java Community Process (JCP) have yet to be properly established.
The absence of Borland and IBM is notable given JTC-founders’ rhetoric that the group’s goal is to drive interoperability Java application development tools across competing ISV’s frameworks.
Borland and IBM have the largest Java IDE market share, according to analysts. Both companies’ IDEs use established or growing frameworks – Borland’s Primetime for JBuilder and Eclipse used in the WebSphere IDE by IBM.
Meanwhile, those JTC BEA Systems, Oracle and Sun are engaged in lengthy and on-going attempts to increase their own tools’ share of the developer pie, catching up with Borland and IBM.
Bob Sutor, director of WebSphere infrastructure software, said IBM avoided participating in the JTC, instead focusing on Eclipse to avoid confusion. Questions to JTC founders last week tackled whether the organization was adding an unnecessary extra level of bureaucracy in the Java standards process.
IBM calls Eclipse a code-body rather than a standards-setting body, as Eclipse implements specifications from organizations like the Java Community Process (JCP). Current areas of Eclipse’s activity include work on metadata and aspect oriented programming.
Rather than rule-out the JTC, Sutor said IBM would implement JTC-approved APIs. JTC shouldn’t expect an easy ride though, as the onus is very much on Eclipse to pick up the group’s work first. As WebSphere is based on Eclipse, the JTC’s work would make its way into IBM’s software through that channel.
Departing Eclipse board of steward’s chairperson Skip McGaughey last week welcomed the JTC. However, it will be up to an incoming Eclipse board of directors and executive director taking over from McGaughey during the next 30 to 45 days to actually sanction any formal work with the JTC.
Meanwhile, Sutor noted many important elements of the JTC still require clarification. This includes deliverables, voting, control of intellectual property and whether the group will be incorporated.
The group lacks an overall board of directors and is, currently, instead relying on three forums. There is a forum for core members who form a steering committee, a general members forum to be mostly composed of Java ISVs, and forum for community participants who provide customer input in an advisory input. Sun is calling the JTC’s structure informal.
Sutor said, though, the group must organize quickly. A standards organization needs to work like a business. That’s what I shall be staying turned for and watching.
This article is based on material originally produced by ComputerWire.