Eclipse Ecosystem

A blog devoted to promoting the Eclipse ecosystem

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

IDE Shootouts - An Awkward Position

TSSJS has approached the Eclipse Foundation to help find someone to represent Eclipse in "An IDE Shootout". The event is sponsored by Sun Netbeans and IDEA IntelliJ, and both of those companies have agreed to represent their products at the shoot out.

It's an awkward situation. As a not-for-profit member-driven foundation, we can't be in the position to choose organizations to represent Eclipse, and we're certainly not setup to participate ourselves. Our position to the organizers has been -- we're happy to make introductions if you tell us who you would like to be introduced to, but we can't be in the position of choosing.

I think it shows a challenge facing the ecosystem, largely because of it's success. The Eclipse Ecosystem literally has dozens of organizations that would blow the Netbeans product and IntelliJ product out of the water at such an event. How could we possibly choose one?

What's the big deal? Well, I see two possible outcomes. Because the foundation cannot suggest participants, the organizers may choose to note "The Eclipse Foundation declined to participate in the event", which would be unfortunate. On the other hand, if the organizers pick someone to represent "Eclipse" it does little to promote the true breadth of the ecosystem.

What do you think the foundation should do when asked for participants in events like this?

- Don


  • At 6:14 PM, Blogger Bull said…

    Do we "Eclipse" need to attend? What if those vendors that build IDE's on top of Eclipse represented Eclipse. That is IBM, Borland, MyEclipse, etc... could bring their IDEs.

  • At 7:19 PM, Blogger AlBlue said…

    The other possibility, if the base Eclipse JDT is being represented, would be to open it up to the community to go and present the IDE in lieu of the Eclipse Foundation. For example, one of the editors of a well known Eclipse site ;-)

  • At 2:07 AM, Blogger Ulrich W. said…

    Do you remember the famous/infamous Petshop-contest sponsored by Microsoft and organized by TSS at the time? I do and my memory tells me that it would be a very bad idea to participate at a contest organized by TSS and sponsored by a participant.

  • At 9:29 AM, Blogger David said…

    I think we should participate on the following conditions:

    1) Two people from Eclipse: one from the Platform team and one from the JDT team represent Eclipse.

    2) *Every* other company that builds an IDE or significant IDE addons competing with either NetBeans of IntelliJ be permitted to represent itself and its IDE. So that would be Borland, BEA, IBM/Rational, Genuitec, Instantiations, ... I've listed just the ones that come to mind right off; I'm sure there are others.

    If Sun and IntelliJ don't like those terms, maybe we should sponsor our own shootout... :-)

  • At 9:32 AM, Blogger David said…

    Hmmm; if we did this, I think we need more than people from Platform and JDT to represent Eclipse. We really should involve Joe Winchester from VE, and probably some folks from the modelling side of the house too...

  • At 9:59 AM, Blogger Joseph said…

    It is a problem. It's not fair to ignore Eclipse, and that's very far from our intent, but it's ALSO not fair to allow representatives of Eclipse to swarm the panel. JDT is probably the right group to represent Eclipse in this forum (as Netbeans' RCP isn't part of the content), and the idea is to actually put forth the basic IDE.

    As far as past "contests" from TSS... I don't have any comment on them, as I wasn't part of the Middleware Company at the time. I can say quite clearly that I have no intent to allow what biases I have to infect a conference.

  • At 10:55 AM, Blogger Donald Smith said…

    For the record, I've had nothing but good interactions with TSS pretty much since their inception. Moreover, TSS conferences always have excellent Eclipse coverage - for example this year Eric Gamma, Jeff McAffer and Adrian Colyer are all speaking at this years TSS event (and me, but I don't count in that crowd :). Moreover, TSSJS is a media sponsor of EclipseCon which is a gutsy thing to do considering they have their own converence 3 weeks afterwards.

    So to be clear - this is not a poo-poo on TSS blog.

    But I feel really threatened here, and don't know what to do. I personally don't think it's fair to do a shoot out with two commercial products versus an open source project. I would encourage TSS to pick one (find some critera, maybe alternate in future years), but pick someone from the list of suspects already mentioned and bring it on! But I don't think the foundation can choose here.

    - Don

  • At 11:36 AM, Blogger Karsten said…

    Don - Netbeans is open source as well, so it's two open source vs. one commercial (IntelliJ).

  • At 12:39 PM, Blogger Donald Smith said…

    Nah, sorry. Netbeans is a Sun product. They may have some code in a public CVS, but it's not an Open Source project per se.

  • At 3:45 PM, Blogger Doug Schaefer said…

    I think you hit the nail on the head, Don. I don't think Eclipse should attend this. But direct competators with Netbeans and IDEA should. Eclipse isn't a product so it's weird that they would ask you. They should be asking IBM, Borland, etc., i.e. companies that build products based on Eclipse and they should all attend.

    I see it as a common mistake to confuse the Foundation with the Board and member companies. Even I did it today :)

  • At 2:04 AM, Blogger WilliamChen said…

    Donald Smith:
    How can you be so ignorant as a community leader?! NetBeans of course is an open source effort. Don't be so arrogant. Do you think, in the world, only eclipse is an opensource software? Other opensource communities should be consider an opensource one though they don't follow your governance model!

  • At 2:24 AM, Blogger Tim said…

    > As a not-for-profit member-driven
    > foundation, we can't be in the
    > position to choose organizations to
    > represent Eclipse

    Don, sorry, but this is way too precious. You can certainly find your way out of this faux moral dilemma with little difficulty, and striking the pose that there actually is any sort of larger dilemma (other than putting Eclipse into a contest where it might lose) is cute, but we all know better.

    > Nah, sorry. Netbeans is a Sun
    > product.

    I really don't know whether to laugh or cry at that statement. NetBeans is a project that Sun sponsors. The last time I did a query of Eclipse's Bugzilla, 92% of all bugs filed were owned and closed by IBM employees. Who's kidding who? We've never claimed that NetBeans was an independent entity - Sun pays for the hosting of it, that's a matter of public record.

    On the other hand, we don't charge anyone at the door. If you want to participate in a NetBeans sub-project, show up and contribute. I challenge anyone reading this to actually show up on and genuinely try to to contribute to NetBeans. Prove me wrong. Please.

    You'll find the door is wide open and you're welcomed by a very large community which is doing the same sorts of things you are. Now contrast this with Eclipse, where project ownership goes to the highest bidder.

    NetBeans is a Sun-sponsored product. And yes, Sun sells support on NetBeans, directly, without rebranding it or calling it by any other name - that seems vastly simpler than having to get Joe Schmoe's distribution of Eclipse and then pay them for whatever features they choose to support, which may or may not overlap with the features I actually need. I mean, isn't that more than a little mind-bogglingly stupid? Take a good IDE with a well known name. Call it something else and compete against the bits you're shipping and expect marketing and branding will somehow save the day?! I count myself lucky or unlucky to have been there and done that and found out exactly what Netscape found out - that taking an open source product and, instead of leveraging the momentum it has, rebranding it as something different and trying to sell that is just a spectacularly dumb idea. It's a little bit amazing to me that this has yet to dawn on the various Eclipse distributions - that having a mission of differentiating yourself from...yourself is a monstrous waste of time.

    Eclipse was designed to make a big flash in the pan - lots of PR from lots of companies hoping to hitch a ride, get acquired or make it big in one way or another. NetBeans was designed on the 20 year plan. That's much less exciting short-term, but in the end an open door attracts good technology far better than a pay-at-the-door strategy. Treating either Eclipse or NetBeans as if they were independent of the influence of the companies that founded them is encouraging a lie.

    The question has to be, whose actions will more probably benefit developers in general, in the long haul. I doubt pay-to-play can possibly win on that front - the economics of it eventually tilt toward Eclipse *not* accruing features developers need, because commoditization of features must cannibalize the ecosystem and the incentives are set up for that not to happen - which means in the very long term, Eclipse will slowly fall behind the curve in order to keep various constituencies happy. The game was rigged that way from the start, and the price of lots of PR at the outset is eventual stagnation - the game was rigged for that from the outset.

    So, is NetBeans a Sun product? Well, come participate in the NetBeans community. I helped found it years before Eclipse existed. You tell me. Really. Come do real coding and contribute real technology, just as a lot of (interestingly, Eclipse board member) companies do, and see. That's the whole point and difference between the Eclipse and NetBeans communities - in the NetBeans world, you as a developer are on a level playing field with any company that wants to contribute. Contributors are people - developers are people (what ever was a company except a bunch of people doing something together, legal fictions aside?).

    Companies are nice, and adding to the partner page is nice, but what is a company anyway? It's people - a company is the sum of the talents of its employees. So why not bypass the middleman (the company)? When Compuware contributed code to improve the window system, we worked with *people* - those very smart and talented developers who contributed code. As equals - as particpants in a common enterprise. Not because they worked for a big impressive company, but because they were smart, talented, interesting people. In the long run, that scales far better than any sort of corporate fetishism.

    In the long run, it's the ideas and the technology that matter. We're all going to retire some day. What really matters? Well, making a difference and actually economically being able to retire. Companies come and go. We remain. We're people. The rest is one or another level of fictions and lies. I would much rather participate in a project where I am recognized, where the quality of my work is recognized than work on a project where who my employer is and how deep their pockets are is the thing that's important.

    In the Eclipse world, your value is based one what you paid at the door to qualify to contribute, not the quality of your contribution. Meritocracy or kleptocracy - which world would you *really* rather live in? If you weren't being paid for the answer to that question, Don, what world would you **really** rather live in? I think I know the answer, and I won't ask that you make it public.


  • At 5:29 AM, Blogger Ulrich W. said…

    Is it Tim Boudreau from Sun Microsystems?

    Mr. Boudreau,
    why does Sun Microsystems spam Eclipsezone with Netbeans-advertisements? Since when do OpenSource-projects make aggressive commercial advertisement?

  • At 11:13 AM, Blogger Donald Smith said…

    Actually, if it is the same Tim, it'd be great if he could address this outstanding community question - why is Sun baltently and desparately lying in their online ads, claiming that Sun is shipping Eclipse?


    - Don

  • At 4:48 AM, Blogger Steve said…

    I find the comments about Sun quiet amusing. Its a totally false argument to have a dig at Netbeans because its sponsored by Sun ! Doesn't Eclipse run on a platform developed and promoted by Sun. Isn't its very existence to aid the development of a language released, sponsored and supported by Sun.

    I should add that I use Eclipse at work day in day out and its a fine product but I actually prefer Netbeans if I am honest. I think its a well designed and integrated tool with a clear forward path. I don't work for Sun or any other related company I'm just an engineer who developes Java applications. And I've been using Netbeans since version 3.1 and Eclipse for the last 2-3yrs.

  • At 5:41 AM, Blogger kirk said…

    Hi Don,

    I'm a little disappointed at this blog entry and the inaccuracies in it. I'm also disappointed in underlying message that the shootout is intended to some how promote NetBeans or any other IDE over Eclipse.

    However I do see some good that has come out of this posting. Lets reach out to the community at large and ask; who would like to represent the Eclipse community in this event.

    The event is the idea of the TSS editorial staff and no one else. It is currently unsponsered. If you are interested in sponsership I am sure TT sales would be interested in talking to you. I am purely involved in an editorial capacity.

    The shootout is to be conducted on a level playing field that the participants would help define. We unfortunately cannot include every product that we'd like to. The probable participants would be NetBeans and IntelliJ.

    The event should be entertaining as well as educational. I expect that it will be some what competitive but this should be friendly and open (professional) in nature.

    I would very much like to move this dialog in a constructive direction.

    Kind regards,
    Kirk Pepperdine

  • At 8:53 AM, Blogger Steve said…

    I posted a similar comment on the TSS forum yesterday, but that discussion thread seems to have been deleted. Google Trends indicates that IntelliJ and Oracle JDeveloper are in pretty similar company, and both the 2005 and 2006 editions of the Javapolis RAD Race competition were won by contestants who chose Oracle JDeveloper as their Java IDE. It would be a shame to not include Oracle's free IDE in the shootout, too. I hope it works out for the best of the Java development community at large.

  • At 3:01 PM, Blogger Michael said…

    Have a look here

    Wayne did an excellent job. I do not see any problem sending Eclipse on one stage with other parties.



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