Santa Clara - Continuing its foray into open source development, BEA Systems Inc. yesterday acquired Cupertino, Calif.-based Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) vendor M7 Corp.
The amount of the deal has not been disclosed yet though it is effective immediately. On the first day of its annual user conference BEA had announced support for Apache Beehive, Apache XMLBeans, Spring, Tomcat and Eclipse Web Tools as part of its latest improvements to the company's flagship WebLogic platform.
It also announced that its WebLogic application server can manage Tomcat and Geronimo servers from a single dashboard view. The M7 acquisition now adds the NitroX IDE which supports frameworks such as Struts, Hibernate, Java Server Faces and JavaServer Pages.
During the past two days BEA executives have banged the drum for the company's new blended application framework, targeted at building out the components of a service-oriented architecture. BEA had joined the Eclipse Foundation as a board member and strategic developer back in February and the M7 acquisition now adds much of the Web and data tier tooling from Eclipse to BEA's product set.
"Eclipse is a freight train that cannot be stopped," said BEA senior product marketing manager Pieter Humphrey.
That is indeed the bet BEA has taken, tying much of its developmental future to the open source integrated tooling framework. Humphrey added that months of weaving Eclipse support into WebLogic was a key to bringing M7 inside the company's walls.
"This type of acquisition would have made zero sense in the [WebLogic] 8.1 timeframe," he said. "Our recent development on Eclipse made this possible."
Plans are to merge the two product sets in the coming months to make what has been initially tagged the BEA Workshop for Java IDE and the stated goal is it will form the developer tooling base for all of BEA's products. The M7 product will be able to leverage many of the annotation, portal and runtime capabilities of the BEA product stack.
Along with the Eclipse IDE, M7 also has a new tool called App X-Ray, which Humphrey described as "dynamic dependency discovery for pre-build error checking."
"You can just pick up an application that somebody handed you and you're going to know what the issues are right off the bat," he explained. "It gives you impact analysis. If I'm going to make this change it can tell me, oh, that's going to break me in like 15 places."
It could prove particularly useful for SOA development where Web services will be pulling together multiple components developed by different teams.
"This is not just BEA posturing around these frameworks, they've gone out and bought some serious product to support it," said Dana Gardner, an analyst with Interarbor Solutions LLC.
He added that open frameworks, Eclipse in particular, have gained traction with corporate developers who like the quicker development cycles and the ability to provide direct feedback into the framework creation. Gardner believes all development vendors will need to support disparate open source frameworks.
"It's going to be a Swiss Army Knife of tools that work and are good," he said. "Then you'll just pick and choose which of those tools you need to do a given job."