Friday, May 26, 2006

Why I Love Eclipse

Let me tell you a story:

A few months ago I was concerned about a performance problem in my GEF application running under Linux. I spend most of my time using Linux, and it wasn't until I tried the application under windows that I noticed just how slow it was. I began to try and track down the problem and after a while I had dropped GEF and was simply drawing shapes to a canvas. I wrote a small profile tool for drawing filled shapes. Now all I had to do was measure the difference between Windows and Linux.

I booted a Windows box and went to download Eclipse. Internet explorer crashed. I swore! Just then nice little dialog box appeared asking me for some information. I filled it out and sent it off. After a little more fiddling around I finally got Eclipse installed and I ran my profiler. What did I find? This particular example ran about 10x faster on a much older Windows box! I Swore! No little dialog box appeared so I posted a note to the SWT newsgroup outlining what I did, just to make sure it made sense. Then I went home. (This was late on a Friday).

By Sunday night I was angry. No answer from Eclipse, No answer from Microsoft. I sent them the form on the same day! (Maybe I should have listened to my wife and not worked on the weekend. :))

By the time I awoke Monday morning (PST Time, late for all you EST people) there was a respond to my post on the SWT newsgroup. I followed up with a few more notes and by noon a bug was opened, I was cc'’d on it, my profiler was attached, and some suggestion of what to do was proposed. Hum… I should check my e-mail, maybe Microsoft, who has a lot more money than this, has followed up… nope!

Now, less than 1 business day after I posted a problem, my concern had been acknowledged and some suggestions proposed. Neither the Eclipse problem nor the Windows problem has been fixed, but guess which organization I am much happier with? I understand that we are in the endgame and exactly what this means and I understand how I can help contribute to fixing this problem. It is this community support, a high level of respect, and the openness by which Eclipse operates that has convinced me that this is the right model for software development.

Almost every question I ask on the Eclipse newsgroups has been answered (and *yes* I have asked some pretty stupid questions). I just wanted to use this post to say thank-you to all the contributors, not just for building Eclipse, but for supporting and helping out all the users!

By the way, I still haven'’t heard back from Microsoft!