The Butler Group recently wrote an opinion article titled: Sun and Eclipse – A Marriage Made in Heaven. I think they make a good case as to why Sun should join forces with the Eclipse Foundation. They note that:
The Eclipse project is a runaway success, and this is now undisputed.
They also argue that developers now live in a polarized world, one centered around Eclipse and the other around Visual Studio. And that Sun has to make a choice. Of course, since Sun is definitely not a Microsoft shop, the choice is quite obvious.
I think their proposal of how to merge NetBeans with Eclipse is straightforward, though probably still controversial:
The logical step forward is for Sun to offer the option of a NetBeans plug-in to Eclipse, giving Java developers access to the excellent tools in NetBeans – the winner of the 2005 Open Source Tool of the Year, in Developer.com’s Product of the Year awards.
I think the big items in the proposed NetBeans plug-in would be the things that Developer.com cited, when they gave out the aforementioned award:
In addition to facilitating development of traditional GUI-based Java applications via a WYSIWYG designer, the NetBeans IDE supports development of J2ME wireless applications, Web applications, and Web Services.
These features would definitely overlap with existing Eclipse projects, but we should be able to figure out how to get the best of both worlds in the Java Community.