Developers tell Eclipse why it sucks
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EclipseCon Eclipse spent today weathering criticism from developers when it dared ask: "What sucks about Eclipse?"
A day after unveiling plans for tools to help build Web 2.0 applications, Eclipse was dinged by developers for giving them a dated and confusing interface.
Developers attending an EclipseCon open mic session in Santa Clara, California, chided Eclipse for hiding new functionality under successive interfaces, of using inflexible dialogue boxes, and for not offering a more Web 2.0 look and feel.
One delegate said Eclipse should be more "dynamic" on change and asked why Eclipse couldn't co-ordinate a unified interface design project.
Earlier, Eclipse was grilled over its strategy for three Web 2.0 projects, to provide AJAX and scripting developers improved tooling in debugging - with a Java debugger and debugging in Firefox - and frameworks. Overall, the idea is to eliminate common programming headaches and help take Eclipse into Web 2.0 markets.
Concerns centered on frameworks, and whether the new Eclipse projects will mandate use of a framework and whether there are too many frameworks for Eclipse tools to support. The planned Eclipse Rich Applications Project (RAP), promises plug-ins to "leading" frameworks such as Dojo, Rico, Zimbra and script.aculo.us.
"There's a misconception you need a framework," one Ruby developer told EclipseCon delegates. "Committing yourself to one toolkit is dangerous. You become [overly] reliant on one framework," he said.
There exist 160 frameworks, up from four dozen a year ago, with 25 per cent of scripters eschewing a framework, according to an Ajaxian poll last September
Complaints against Eclipse tools incorporated several pet peeves. These included complexity of installing Eclipse on Windows, Mac, Linux and Unix, which Eclipse is trying to solve through the Equinox and proposed Maya projects. Other issues included separation between views and editors, use of different XML editors, and existence of two Subversion plug-ins - here and here.
As ever, the confusion over Eclipse plug-ins and complexity of the Eclipse architecture and interface tdrew most complaints. In a display of hands, the audience of around 80 attendees voted to remove model dialogue boxes.
One developer, a former NetBeans user who'd traveled to the Heart of Darkness after recently switching platforms with jobs, said of the Eclipse interface: "I was overwhelmed by the functionality I get in the first screen. I propose an 'easy to view perspective' that would show developers [only] what they need."®