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Association for Computing Machinery Honours Eclipse

by Charles Humble on Apr 26, 2012 |

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) today announced that Eclipse has been awarded the Software System Award, which is "given to an institution or individuals recognized for developing software systems that have had a lasting influence, reflected in contributions to concepts and/or commercial acceptance." From the press release

Conceived to address perceived shortcomings in proprietary software development tools, Eclipse allowed developers to seamlessly integrate their own extensions, specializations, and personalizations.  It revolutionized the notion of an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) by identifying the conceptual kernel underlying any IDE.

Whilst financial support for the Software System Award is provided by IBM, the ACM is an entirely independent organisation. The award is also highly prestigious, with past winners including Eiffel (2006), Java (2002), Apache (1999), NCSA Mosaic (1995), the World Wide Web (also 1995), PostScript (1989), Smalltalk (1987), and UNIX (1983).

The IBM Eclipse team included John Wiegand, Dave Thomson, Gregory Adams, Philippe Mulet, Julian Jones, John Duimovich, Kevin Haaland, Stephen Northover (now with Oracle), and Erich Gamma (now with Microsoft). Writing on his blog Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation, Mike Milinkovich, said

Eclipse's contributions to computing are important to recognize. In 1999-2001 when it was built and then released, the notion that you could build a general-purpose tooling platform that was uniformly modular throughout its entire architecture was revolutionary. In many ways, it still is today. The Eclipse plug-in model (later re-hosted on the OSGi standard) has enabled the broadest and most open tooling platform in the world. SWT proved to the world that you could actually build good-looking GUIs in Java in 2001, and compete head-to-head with Visual Studio on the Windows platform.

Eclipse also had a wider impact on the open source movement, according to Milinkovich, since it "demonstrated that even large and conservative organizations saw the business value in forging open source platforms and communities."

IBM now includes Eclipse in over 500 shipping products, including many of the Rational tools such as Rational Application Developer for WebSphere and Rational Asset Manager, as well as client-server tools such as Lotus Notes 8 and Lotus Symphony. A huge number of other vendors have built products on the back of Eclipse, including Adobe with Flash Builder and ColdFusion Builder, Red Hat's JBoss Developer Studio, SAP's NetWeaver Developer Studio, VMware's SpringSource Tool Suite, Wolfram Workbench (an Eclipse-based IDE for Mathematica), and Zend Studio (An IDE used for developing PHP).

More information on the history of Eclipse can be found on InfoQ here.

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