In the second such announcement in a couple weeks, Eclipse has once more expanded its board and started the wheels rolling on an expansion of its mission. Mobile handset maker Nokia is joining Eclipse as board member and strategic developer to lead a proposed project on developing tooling for Java ME (formerly J2ME), which supports mobile devices.
To date, mobile phone handsets have been one of Java’s stronger niches, with most major manufacturers already using J2ME or brew, an unofficial Qualcomm framework, for their smart phones.
Although Nokia has not been an official member before this, it has participated in the Eclipse eRCP (Embedded Rich Client Platform) effort that offers plug-ins for developing more sophisticated clients for small footprint devices. Nokia is not the first mobile device or software vendor to join Eclipse. Others already part of the group include Palm, Symbian, and Motorola, along with NEC and Fujitsu, which include mobile products among their diverse product lines.
Nokia’s prime mission at Eclipse is to lead a project for developing a Java ME plug in to the tooling framework. Although the project is still at proposal stage, Nokia says it expects at least one other significant vendor in this space to endorse its efforts. For starters, Nokia will contribute some tooling covering the building, optimizing, and deploying of J2ME code, representing over 5 staff years of work, as seed technology to the project.
According to Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, mobile tooling is just one of several areas where it is looking to expand its focus.
Earlier this month, they admitted Iona in an effort to begin SOA tooling. But in the future, Mr Milinkovich hopes to take Eclipse past its Java roots to other languages such as C++, while addressing other areas of the software life cycle beyond the development niche for which the foundation is known. And he wants to see Eclipse ramp up efforts in rich client development which has so far drawn the likes of Microsoft, Macromedia, Laszlo (as the surrogate for IBM), and the Apache Foundation.