Open Source Ecosystems: How Eclipse works, the Sonatype case

Sonatype, founded by the creator of Maven, Jason van Zyl, after committing their m2eclipse plugin to the Eclipse Foundation, recently joined the Eclipse Foundation as a strategic developer, gaining also a seat on the Eclipse board.

m2eclipse, accepted as an Eclipse Technology Project, sets the standard for integrating Maven and Eclipse, and aims to make easier to use Eclipse IDE.

I posed Jason few questions to learn more about how the Eclipse ecosystem works.

How was the m2eclipse project accepted as an Eclipse Technology Project?

There is standard process at Eclipse for the acceptance of new projects. As a project you voice your intent, and propose the project to the Eclipse Foundation as we did with m2eclipse. A public announcement is then made about the project to the Eclipse community and a newsgroup for the project is setup to field questions and concerns by the community. For us, after a few months everything was going smoothly so the Sonatype developers working on m2eclipse submitted a project proposal to the standard “creation review process” where our project was approved and then provisioned. We are now in the process of working through the Eclipse IP process, and in parallel moving our project’s code and documentation over to the Eclipse Foundation’s infrastructure. It’s been great working with the Eclipse folks, they have a very professional, and thoughtful setup.

Is the project economically sustainable?

All of of the projects being developed by Sonatype are economically sustainable. We have a number of very large clients, whose names everyone would recognize, who are using Eclipse with Maven and require high quality integration and support. We are experts on integrating Eclipse with Maven, and moving our project to the Eclipse Foundation is a display of our commitment to the project. We have joined the Eclipse Foundation as a Strategic Development Partner, which entails providing 8 full-time employees to work on the m2eclipse project. This commitment meant that we needed to be economically viable before we brought m2eclipse to the Eclipse Foundation.

How does the Eclipse Foundation see community building?

As part of the standard process toward having a project accepted the Eclipse Foundation likes to see an active community, because for many projects, community involvement is an integral part of their success and viability. Our m2eclipse project has been steadily growing over the course of three years, we’ve worked hard to improve the quality in order to attract a larger community and have currently seen over 50,000 downloads. The community is definitely a key aspect in the decision making process to accept a project at Eclipse.

Did considerations about community building influence the decision to commit the project?

The reach and influence of the Eclipse Foundation is very powerful and is a great way to increase exposure to new users. Any project that is part of the Eclipse Foundation is known to be of high quality because the Foundation demands a great deal of rigor. Moving our project to Eclipse is a sign of our commitment to them, but we appreciate the visibility and chance of attracting new users and developers, as this is a critical factor in the success of any open source project.

Thank you Jason, and happy hacking!

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