Recently announced Symbian Foundation’s choice of the open source license is Eclipse Public License (EPL). This choice is already a great plus on EPL’s account. Pretty soon, there will be an open source mobile OS licensed under EPL provided by a foundation other than Eclipse foundation. This late announcement actually made me think, does Eclipse fulfill its potential by limiting its technology scope?
For many, Eclipse is “still” all about IDE. Although, a big part of what exists in Eclipse is development tools related, the technology scope is not only development tools. Besides the tools, Eclipse also provides runtimes and frameworks, so the scope is as wide as a development platform such as .Net. The limitation in Eclipse’s technology scope is all its technologies run on Equinox OSGi. Although, I have not seen any Eclipse rule that states that all projects must support Equinox, there must be an unwritten community rule. Do not be mistaken, I like working with Equinox and I think it is the best runtime container to work with today. However, being cool and useful does not change the fact that not everything (operating system components, virtual machines etc..) can be based on Equinox.
After all the secret sauce of the Eclipse foundation is not a particular technology but its ecosystem. As the Symbian Foundation announcement indicates, Eclipse ecosystem has the potential to attract a more industries and technologies but this can happen only if the Eclipse community is ready to accept them. Is Eclipse community willing to accept operating system components, virtual machines, alternate runtime containers, embedded technologies…?