Eclipse is a Java-based open source platform that allows a software developer to create a customized development environment (IDE) from plug-in components built by Eclipse members. Eclipse is managed and directed by the Eclipse.org Consortium.
Eclipse got its start in 2001 when IBM donated three million lines of code from its Java tools. The original goal of Eclipse was to create and foster an open source IDE community that would complement the community that surrounds Apache. Rumor has it that a secondary goal was to "eclipse Microsoft Visual Studio" which is how the platform got its name.
In the enterprise, a major advantage to an open source development platform is that it allows an IT department to mix and match development tools rather than being committed to a single vendor's suite of development products. Although the Eclipse Platform is written in Java, it supports plug-ins that allow developers to develop and test code written in other languages.
Eclipse is released under the terms of the Eclipse Public License.
See also: Visual Studio