Friday, April 14, 2006

3.2 Endgame

I'm not sure how everyone else in the community tracks these things! There is probably a announce list that I should subscribe to; but for those of you like me, who are not on Eclipse Announcement lists, the 3.2 endgame has begun. (See Here)

What does this mean? It means summer must be almost here because Eclipse 3.2 is almost ready for release. Eclipse 3.2 is into its final stages and you can check-out the latest and greatest features by downloading the Release Candidates. I won't link to any here because you should go through and select a proper mirror :)

Along with the Eclipse 3.2 release, the Eclipse community is planning on releasing 10 Major Eclipse projects simultaneously. For anyone moving forward with Eclipse based applications this year, and plan on staying up-to-date with the forthcoming stable release, you should be well aware of the Callisto Project!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Young Users ~= First User

Two blogs on the 8th of April complement each other nicely. Andre blogged about the importance of first impressions, and how perspectives can often confuse users (First Impressions). Right before this, Wassim talked about how we should be looking to attract a younger audience (Younger Audience).

I am currently spending part of my time teaching first year computer science at the University of Victoria, and some of my students are using Eclipse. I use it during lecture to show code examples, step through code, etc... I even supply the assignments as projects that can be directly imported into the workbench. Students are not required to use Eclipse, and sadly, most of them don't. We are currently running some studies to see what IDEs they use and why, but confusion is one reason that drives students away from Eclipse. Changing perspectives, an overly complicated debugger (for first year students) and *millions* of menu items are some of the reasons students were weary of our favorite development environment.

Because of this, some researchers I work with started to develop a simplified IDE built on Eclipse targeted directly at First Year Students (Gild). Features include, No Auto Complete (yes, I said No Auto Complete, would you give a calculator to a grade 1 when trying to teach them how to add?), a single perspective for everything (debugging, coding, etc...), a clear separation between Build and Run, simplified menus, and many more... The tool is still a research prototype, but hopefully it helps slowly introduce students to the wonderful world of Eclipse, without over complicating things.