Tasktop and Protecode are two interesting startups I ran into at EclipseCON 2008. They are very different businesses, aimed at very different audiences. However, both are made possible by Eclipse ecosystem….It would be very interesting to estimate the revenue opportunity that the Eclipse Foundation has opened up for vendors of all shapes and sizes.
Tasktop is based on Eclipse. The makers of Tasktop are many of the guys behind the Eclipse Mylyn OSS project. Mylyn is a task-focused UI for developers using Eclipse. Mik and team realized that the task-focused nature of Mylyn could be extended to support everyday use (outside of developers). Tasktop is able to group documents, emails and websites based on tasks you’re working on. So, for instance if I was working on a customer issue for work, researching for a blog post and writing a paper for school, I could switch between these three tasks and Tasktop would open/close the appropriate files, emails, webpages etc. based on the task I’m working on. Searching for files becomes simpler because they are associated with tasks. Also, Tasktop tracks how much time I’ve spent on a given task. I suspect there is a way to prevent Tasktop from tracking how long I spend reading FSJ and Dilbert ;-) It does a lot more, so watch this demo. While Mylyn is pure OSS, Tasktop is a commercial product for $60/year.
Protecode on the other hand has a really useful Eclipse plugin that tracks the pedigree of your code. It does so whether you import a file into Eclipse, or paste text from clipboard. The tool works unobtrusively while the developer is working away. As a result, the developer doesn’t have to remember the pedigree of a file or snippet of code 6 months later when the lawyer comes knockng. Companies can also set policies to restrict the code that can be brought into the project based on the license type (i.e. restrict GPL code usage). If you bring in code that doesn’t have a license attached to it, Protecode is able to check the code against its constantly updated collection of OSS software code. This occurs over a network connection. If there isn’t a network connection, the code is marked as “Unknown” and the developer, manager or lawyer can act on identifying the code when there is a network connection. As the use of OSS grows in the enterprise, so to does the worry of IP infringement. A tool like Protecode could become just what IT managers have been looking for. BTW, the guys at Protecode are in the midst of updating their website, so don’t let that get in the way of trying Protecode. The product is actually very cool and I can see it helping companies (and lawyers) get more comfortable with using OSS to develop their own products.