Today, the 2011 ACM Software System Award has been awarded to Greg Adams, John Duimovich, Erich Gamma, Kevin Haaland, Julian Jones, Philippe Mulet, Steve Northover, Dave Thomson and John Weigand:
For the Eclipse platform and its visionary design of a universal IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which provides developers with an extensible platform for application development tools, fostering an impressive world-wide open source software development community.
The Eclipse project (full award citation) began in 1999 and was initially conceived to address a number of perceived shortcomings in proprietary software developments tools. Eclipse is a programming environment that provides kernel IDE (Integrated Development Environment) functionality and allows developers to easily integrate their own extensions, specialisation and personalisation. The Eclipse team identified the conceptual kernel underlying any IDE and was the first to bring the microkernel approach to another domain.
Eclipse changed the way programmers think about building tools: instead of building tools by using stacks of libraries and then trying to integrate them, one starts with the Eclipse platform, which provides a set of general capabilities. The tool developers then teach Eclipse about their domain (Java, UML, modelling, etc). From the very beginning, Eclipse was designed as an open and extensible platform for application development tools with a Java IDE built on top. The platform provides a nucleus of building blocks and APIs including extension points though which new functionality can be easily integrated, providing high component reuse rates. It has transformed the market for software development tools, fostering a large open source community well beyond the original platform.