Monday, April 21, 2008

When Diversity Goes Astray

There's a lot of talk about diversity at Eclipse and it's generally seen as a very good thing. Of course there are exceptions to every rule as Scott Lewis hinted in his blog. Below is a graphic illustration of diversity gone bad. The poor frog has no way to get that misguided toad off his back. Clearly no good can come of this!

I find myself still a bit frustrated with the download page discussions in 205205 . I'll definitely grant that I'm not the best person to judge on what's a good community download page. My experience at IBM with product usability studies taught me that those in the thick of things typically don't have the same perceptions as would a typical user, so it's crucial to consider the users directly. There's a bit of that going on in the bugzilla, but also a lot of experts with expert opinions that may well differ from those of the impacted users; of course I include myself in this comment.

You might consider asking yourself the impression you'd get from the download page as a first time visitor. Could you tell what release you would be getting? If you look way down, you'd see a hint because of the Eclipse Classic 3.3.2 label, but a more prominent mention that 3.3.2 applies for the downloads as a whole would seem to be a good thing. You might even wonder if Eclipse Classic is like Coke Classic? I.e., the way it was before it was ruined by changes? But you'd be digressing badly. Back on track, you might wonder where you could get the latest bleeding edge stuff. Of course there is a "Ganymede M6 Packages" link, but likely you'd think, what the heck is Ganymede and what's so special about M6? According to a comment in the bugzilla, it's hard to find Ganymede with Google even if you already know the appropriate search term.

I definitely don't have all the right answers, but I do get a sense when things don't feel quite right. So while there is a diverse set of opinions on this, it really doesn't seem to have made the page the best I think it could be. Of course that's just my opinion. I would like to think that the big download button on the home page could be used to easily find any other download, i.e., the 3.4 download as well as leads to the downloads for various other projects, with the Eclipse project being the linchpin. Well enough griping. Hopefully I've not offended anyone. Goodness knows our community has some annoying blood suckers, such as yesterday's posting about "I Truly hate Open Source Software," so I don't want to be one of them. Check out the risks some little bloodsuckers are willing to take:

On a more positive theme, the notorious bug 109137---an EMF contributor's words, not my own---has been making excellent progress. The various god-like developers involved in making JDT and PDE great have slaved behind the scenes to produce working results. I'll need to update the instructions for boostrapping EMF from CVS to describe how to exploit this great new support. The approach I'll use going forward is to extract EMF directly into the dropins folder using "eclipse.exe -data dropins" to launch. Once that's all extracted and built, I can launch a runtime workspace and use EMF's wizards to create a new project, generate the source code, and thanks to the new support for external folders on the classpath, the resulting code compiles correctly against the bin folders in the primary workspace.

This is totally awesome, but wait, that's not all! If you right click on the running process for the runtime workspace in the Debug view, you can see the magical incantation that the PDE uses to make the runtime workspace use the development time plugins, i.e., there's a -dev argument that points at a file. Now if you record that option, exit your primary Eclipse and restart it with that additional argument, Eclipse will find the development time plugins in the dropins folder and will use the .class files of those plugins to yield a bootstrapped development environment that includes the latest and greatest changes you've just developed without needing to build all the jars! For EMF, this lets me change the generator, quickly restart the environment, and then regenerate my models with those generator changes. I'm now an even happier Eclipse user than before and this is why I truly love open source: people working together to make things better every day.


Ian Bull said...

I think the biggest problem is the naming at Eclipse. Why do I go to or when I want to get anything from modeling or mylyn, but I go to and click "download eclipse" when I want the platform. I have never gone directly to

Anonymous said...

So why is the guy who hates open source software a bloodsucker? Sure he could have stated his case in more polite terms but it does seem like his complaint is not new?

Ed Merks said...

I have no objection to well-considered polite criticism, but people like this sap the life blood of our community with poisonous behavior that make them not so different from mosquitoes.

Martin Oberhuber said...

... but just as in real life, the blood suckers serve an important purpose: it's people like him who might eventually buy one of the nicely integrated products that commercial vendors build on top of Eclipse.

Let's not forget that Eclipse is a Platform and Framework first, and it's the commercial vendors who sponsor Eclipse that build products on top of it. So we need the blood suckers who don't want to integrate all the pieces themselves, but prefer pre-built products. We need them to pay our daily bread, in the end...

Martin Oberhuber said...

PS and because Eclipse is such a great Open Source Platform, the blood sucker who hates Open Source might not even notice that he just bought a product with a disguised Open Source platform in it... it's so ironical, oh my how I love Open Source :-)