Monday, April 24, 2006

Fractured Eclipse?

So, there's been a lot of discussion today about the level of integration among projects at eclipse.org. As the PMC chair for a top-level project at eclipse.org, I've certainly been aware of these sorts of issues, and have heard a number of discussions about them in various forums, ranging from the more formal (architecture council) to the casual (chance gatherings at conferences, user groups, etc.). I have to confess that I'm of two minds here.

On one side, the early history of Eclipse set a very high bar (too high?) with the JDT and PDE integration with the platform. Both of these technologies, especially JDT, are the result of concentrated, expert work by a strong committer base over a relatively long time (don't let the tip of the eclipse.org iceberg fool you here). Few, if any, other projects at eclipse.org have the benefit of this depth and length of experience (BIRT is perhaps close to being an exception here). Yes, there are a lot of really cool things going on at eclipse.org, but clearly, as the blogs and discussion mentioned above point out, there are a number of fractures too. I think the real question is: Which groups, and in which priority order, is eclipse.org trying to serve?

On the one hand there are ISV having the experience, staff, and willingness to pick up the pieces, and work the rough edges so they fit together nicely. Maybe add some additional pieces along the way. Nice way to build a product, leveraging open source, and there are a number of companies doing so in a big way.

On the other hand, there's the end users and companies wanting to take eclipse.org code as-is (or essentially as-is) and just use it. While groups in the first category can afford to work away the rough edges, groups in this category tend to cut themselves. And this is a very valid concern. I'd really like to see DTP be as full featured and easy to use for its domain as, for example, JDT is for Java.

The question you have to answer, and the position you have to get commitment to, is, however, what do the main players at eclipse.org want to spend their money on? I'm afraid that, if we start trying to solve the "user" problem before this foundational agreement is reached, then any efforts will be half-baked and only further serve to annoy exactly those we were supposed to be helping.

2 Comments:

Blogger Foo Yung Chang said...

Very sharp analysis. Having delved into many an Eclipse.org project from both the user and the ISV perspective, I have come to believe that the user side of this equation can be solved as most corporate users want an IDE for a few specific tasks. These users don't read newsgroups and post to Bugzilla; they just want to build their database-driven webapp without learning how to operate a nuclear reactor. These tasks reside at the intersection of WTP (75%), DTP (25%) and TPTP (25%). If WTP incorporated a few more features and significantly improved its quality, you wouldn't have people correctly pointing out that this house is built with some funky blueprints - meters on one side, inches on the other.

8:35 PM

 
Blogger Mike Milinkovich said...

John,

Good post and an important question.

I started to write a comment and got a bit carried away. You can see my response here.

9:45 AM

 

Post a Comment

<< Home