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!


Doug Schaefer said...

I think this is one advantage of open source that people sometimes don't think about. Everything is open. I'm sure there is a bug open about you in Microsoft and there are discussions happening, but all behind closed doors.

Eclipse is open. You get to see everything and you feel involved. In fact you are encouraged to be involved. You don't get that with closed proprietary software vendors. Especially large ones where you are one customer in a million.

Doug Schaefer said...

Oh, wait, you are one in a million with Eclipse too :)