After kicking the tires for a while, Oracle Corp has decided to make it official. It is anteing up its Eclipse Foundation membership, joining the board as a strategic member. And in so doing, Oracle also announced that it will open source its TopLink Java Persistence API, and is proposing to move the TopLink project to Eclipse.
Oracle was already a member of the organization. But by not being a strategic member, it looked like it was playing second fiddle to players like IBM and BEA.
Oracle’s move is supposed to show a couple things. First, that Eclipse is not only about development tools, but about run time as well. The die was cast a while ago when Eclipse embraced the Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGi), which has come a long way since its early incarnation as a Java-based services gateway for home multimedia set-top boxes. Today, OSGi is being viewed as a more general purpose software-update mechanism.
And given Eclipse’s broader focus, Oracle’s action shows that a vendor could still be a first-class citizen of Eclipse, even if its development tooling isn’t. In this case, Oracle doesn’t plan to open source its JDeveloper Java tool, or make it Eclipse-compatible.
JDeveloper is a strategic tool for us, but so is participation in the Eclipse community, said Steve Harris, vice president of Oracle’s Java Platform Group.
Instead, Oracle’s involvement with Eclipse has largely centered on Java object persistence APIs. It already leads three Eclipse tools projects including Dali (for the Java Persistence API); Java Server Faces (JSF); and BPEL. Oracle wants to add TopLink as a fourth, to highlight the fact that the technology can do more than simply map Java objects to relational databases.
Oracle created TopLink in 1994, so the product is fairly mature. Recently, it developed a reference Java Persistence API implementation (Java Persistence is part of the Java Enterprise Edition 5 specification). And as part of its proposed Eclipse submission, Oracle will also provide relational mappings from XML file files and databases, Service Data Objects (SDO), and Java Connector Architecture (JCA). It will also work with the OSGi Enterprise Expert Group to create blueprints for defining how OSGi-compliant applications can also access relational data mappings.
Buttressing the case for open sourcing TopLink, Oracle also pointed to its work with Interface21 on integrating TopLink with Spring, a popular framework that has emerged as one of the kinder and gentler alternatives to Enterprise Java Beans (EJBs).