Thursday, July 05, 2007

Eclipse is worse than any commercial IDE (in an ideal world)...

At his keynote at EclipseCon 2007, Robert Lefkowitz made the following provocative statement: "Eclipse is probably worse than any commercial IDE!". Why? Because it's free! In an ideal (capitalistic!?) world you don't pay for anything that you can get for free. Any tool that is worse than a free tool would just run out of business (if both tools would cover the same market). Well, and we have seen quite some commercial IDEs die, since eclipse is available.

One implication of this observation is, that when eclipse increases it's quality, competing commercial products have to increase their quality to survive. But wait! Instead of improving the quality of your commercial product, you could just prevent eclipse from become better. I know, this is very provocative. Fortunately, making (and saving) money is not the only force in our world. And fortunately, the way eclipse is organized, this will not happen:

Although, most of the work on eclipse is sponsored by companies that sell products based on eclipse, the work is done by individual committers. And the human factor is very important. Everybody can see what committers do. It's not anonymous hackers that do the work, because unlike wikipedia, anonymous users cannot change eclipse. Eclipse is a social community with a focus on individual responsible committers. This is very important for the survival of eclipse. That's why new committers have to be voted into protects after they have shown credibility. That's why new projects must have committers from multiple companies. Eclipse committers are humans with emotions. Nobody wants to be accused of being destructive.

It is an honor to be an eclipse committer.