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About files

About Files

It is an Eclipse Foundation requirement that the About file (about.html) exist and be accurate for every plug-in, whether it contains third party code or not. If a plug-in uses or implements encryption this must also be called out in the About file. Recently I have noticed that many abouts that contain third party code are not an accurate reflection of the content redistributed in that plug-in or worse, the about file is missing! There are 2 basic about templates:

  • about for plug-ins that contain ONLY EPL CONTENT
  • about for plug-ins that contain some or all NON-EPL CONTENT - sometimes we refer to this as third party content

The platform also uses an ABOUT file for SOURCE PLUG-INS.

The Lucene plug-in demonstrates a simple example of an about that contains third party content. Notice the link to license files in a directory called about_files. The Europa projects tend to do this by convention so the about file isn't too long.


  • Nested third party code must be identified in the about and all licenses applicable to all third party content in the plug-in should be linked from or present in the about.html file. See the about in the Tomcat plug-in for an example of this (MX4J is nested).
  • Encryption (either use of or implementation of) should be identified in the about. See the about for the Authorization Compatibility plug-in for an example of this.


  • Any modifications to the original code should be noted in the file.
  • If a subset of a third party package is used, identify it as such and describe/specify the subset in the about.
  • Many licenses require that you specify where source can be obtained for the third party package you are redistributing (whether you are redistributing the source or not). If you are redistribuing the source point to the specific location where it can be located, otherwise specify the URL where the source can be obtained.
  • Apache licensed materials that contain a file called "notice" require that the notice file be redistributed in addition to the license file.

Remember, the whole point of the About is to allow an end user to quickly identify what third party code is present in the plug-in and if export compliance is required (i.e. if encryption is being used or implemented).

Note: this is not an official Eclipse Foundation legal document. It was written as a abbreviated guide for plug-in developers writing Abouts. For the official Eclipse documentation see the guide to the legal documentation for Eclipse based content.

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