There are now 273 open-source projects at Eclipse and 174 member companies of the Foundation. The achievement is impressive, but 10 years on, is the code getting bloated? I ran up Eclipse 1.0 when researching this piece, and while it is light on features, its simplicity and responsiveness compared to the latest "Indigo" release is a delight. Eclipse also has dependency issues, where one project depends on a certain version of another, and as you add features to an Eclipse installation this can cause problems. "The dependency challenges are never going to completely go away, because of a conscious decision to make Eclipse an open ecosystem," says Milinkovich.
Problems like these mean that not everyone loves Eclipse. "Thank goodness! There are command-line options for building Android apps... I'll take this over Eclipse any day," Tweeted jQuery creator John Resig last month. "I'd happily use another tool (IntelliJ, Netbeans, etc) if it allowed me to use the Android Development Tools," he adds in another Tweet.
Fortunately there are efforts to move on from the old code base. Next year's "Juno" release will be the first based on the 4.x code, which has been in beta for some time. According to Milinkovich, it is re-engineered to be lighter weight, removing obsolete APIs and forming a more modern platform.
"Thank goodness! There are command-line options for building Android apps... I'll take this over Eclipse any day" – jQuery creator John Resig
What is unique about Eclipse? Milinkovich says it is the path steered between commercial and community interests. "Since its inception, Eclipse has always been an open-source community that is joined at the hip with a commercial ecosystem," he says. "The EPL [Eclipse Public License] is the most commercially friendly of the copyleft licenses."
The consequence is that while Eclipse is free, many of the products built on Eclipse are not. Does that tension between free and commercial dilute the benefit of being open source? Not according to Milinkovich.
"There is not a tension, but a balancing... that is the way Eclipse was designed to work. We see that as a positive thing," he said. ®
Does it make that much difference?
Someone at work managed to blag an extra 2GB (taking them up to 4) and theirs grinds to an unresponsive halt about us much as mine does.
That said, there was someone who had a 1GB refurb laptop and that was absolutely unusable.
These are the joys of being a developer, eh? Crap kit while the folk who do excel and word demand the fastest kit.
Sorry, but I can't really take you seriously if you tolerate an IDE that delivers "unusable" performance levels even with 1GB and requires several more to be acceptable. That's just taking the piss.
Have you used Eclipse? Seriously?
Whilst it may well be a little difficult to get on with at times (my particular bugbear is opening large Ant build files) it is by no means 'sucky' as you so delicately put it. It has its flaws, just like any IDE does (I'm looking at you, Netbeans), but there is a reason it has such an epic market share.
Ultimately, it's a good platform which provides the toolsets to get the job done, whatever that may be. If it upsets you that much, don't use it.
It's that simple.