QNX Software Systems Ltd. took the wraps off the Eclipse-based Momentics Development Suite, the newest addition to its network- and telecom-optimized operating systems and development tools, at the Embedded Systems Conference Chicago this week.
The product is the latest in a string of Eclipse-based software offerings from tool and OS vendors who have linked their fortunes, and products, to a Java-based integrated development environment originally developed by IBM Corp. Now an open-source offering, Eclipse allows any tool to be linked into an open, and free, development framework that compares favorably with most proprietary ones in sophistication and flexibility.
Since the beginning of the year, a number of vendors have thrown their support behind the open Eclipse IDE because it relieves them of the burden and cost of developing a proprietary IDE that matches the features of competing offerings such as Tornado from Wind River Systems Inc.
A new open source community, Eclipse.org, will support and manage the platform, which is being made available on an open-source basis. Founding members of Eclipse.org include Borland, IBM, Merant, QNX Software, Rational Software, RedHat, SuSE, TogetherSoft and WebGain. These companies, together with newer members Fujitsu, Serena and Sybase, will be represented on the group's board of directors. The group counts 1,200 developers from 150 tool suppliers as participants. Members Borland, IBM, Rational and RedHat have already announced Eclipse-based products.
The platform is built around $40 million worth of software tools that IBM developed for its Websphere Studio Workbench and subsequently made available on an open-source basis. The platform is an attempt to provide the glue for a tool environment that allows developers to move seamlessly between an information appliance, to the server that provides services, and to the middleware infrastructure between them.
Dan Dodge, president and chief technology officer of QNX Software (Kanata, Ontario), said a tool environment using the Eclipse framework can create and manage such diverse objects as Web site elements, object models, image files, C++ programs, enterprise-class Java applications and embedded info appliance devices. Language independent though written in Java it comes with construction toolkits and a fully operational Java application development tools package.
Like other RTOS embedded tool vendors, QNX has operated an a slight disadvantage in the marketplace compared to industry leaders such as Wind River, because the latter has always paired its operating system with a sophisticated IDE that allowed consistent and rapid design across a wide range of processors.
Providers of specialized tools targeted at particular steps in the development process or optimized for particular market segments have usually had to give up some of their independence to gain access to a broader base of engineers by entering arrangements that allowed their tools to operate with proprietary IDEs. Competing tool and OS vendors either developed their own IDEs as did Accelerated Technology and Green Hills Software Inc. or developed sophisticated command line packages, or used a third-party development tool environment.
Over the past year or so, QNX has moved to make its tools and operating systems more attractive to developers beyond the X86 platform, on which it once exclusively depended. It now supports most major processor families, including PowerPC, ARM, StrongARM, Xscale, and the SH-4. It has also increased the number of languages it supports to include C, C++, Embedded C++ and Java.
All tools in the Eclipse-derived Momentics, even third-party tools, share the same user interface, said Alex Sanders, QNX's vice president of marketing. With the emergence of Eclipse, QNX has eliminated the time and expense of developing an IDE to match the sophistication of Tornado, for example, he said.
Momentics includes a task-oriented user interface, wizards, shortcuts, a built-in search engine, project management, and integrated versioning. The development suite has been tightly integrated with the company's Neutrino RTOS.
Whereas earlier tools were sold separately from board support packages, those packages for the X86, PowerPC, MIPS, SH-4, Xscale, ARM and StrongARM processors are integrated with the latest IDE. The IDE also includes device driver kits for a wide variety of embedded, small footprint net-centric info appliances.
Momentics also features an instrumented version of the QNX Neutrino kernel, which allows developers to capture the interactions of all components in a target system to pinpoint timing conflicts, logic flaws, hardware faults and other performance-degrading hot spots.
Available now, the Professional Eclipse-enabled GUI-based version of Momentics is priced at $8,695 per seat. The standard version with a traditional command line interface is $4,295 per seat.