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Eclipse Marketplace Passes One Million Installs

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The Eclipse Marketplace passed 1 million installations this week. The marketplace is an evolution of an older site (called Eclipse Plug-In Central), and provides a centralised location where users can discover plug-ins for Eclipse, and open-source and commercial vendors can publish information about their plug-ins.

The marketplace doesn't actually host the plug-in content directly; instead, it provides the ability to find out where the corresponding “update site” happens to be, and what feature(s) should be installed. This allows vendors to post updates and control the distribution whilst still making it easy for users to find the software.

In addition, the marketplace offers a ranking system, based on the number of favourites a plug-in has, as well as counting the number of downloads each plug-in has had. Over 1,000 plug-ins are listed; the top plug-in (both by favourites and download count) is the subclipse plugin, developed by CollabNet to provide access to subversion servers.

InfoQ caught up with Ian Skerrett, VP of Marketing and Ecosystem at the Eclipse Foundation, to find out more about its history and future, and started by asking where the Eclipse Marketplace came from:

Ian Skerrett: We started Eclipse Marketplace in 2009 as a replacement to an older site called Eclipse Plugin Central (EPIC). EPIC was implemented on an older content management system so Marketplace was our effort to move the catalog to Drupal and improve on the usability and features.

InfoQ: Why did Eclipse feel it needed to provide a central marketplace?

Ian Skerrett: An advantage of using Eclipse is huge selection of plugins and solutions developers can use with Eclipse. We want Marketplace to be the place where developers can discover and install the solutions they want to add to their Eclipse environment.

InfoQ: What were the key enhancements of the Marketplace over EPIC?

Ian Skerrett: We focused a lot on usability, making it easier to navigate and search for solutions. We also introduced the concept of individuals creating favourite lists. Developers can create a list of solutions that like to use and from the create a single Eclipse update site. We can also show what are the most popular solutions, making it easier to find new solution.

The move to Drupal also allowed us to focus on stability and reliability. As an aside, Drupal has been great for doing this site.

InfoQ: What has been added since the initial Marketplace and/or Marketplace Client was launched?

Ian Skerrett: In 2010, we also launched the Eclipse Marketplace Client (MPC). This is plugin that is shipped in all of the Eclipse packages, except the Classic SDK. It allows Eclipse developers to search the Marketplace catalog directly from an Eclipse installation and then with a single click install the solution(s) into Eclipse. We wanted to mask a lot of the complexity and confusion over using update sites. MPC was to be really our AppStore interface for the Eclipse community.

For the Indigo release in June 2011, we also added the ability to drag-to-install using MPC. We have made it possible for a solution provider to add their Marketplace listing on their own web site. Developers can then drag from the list to a running Eclipse instance and this will automatically start MPC and the installation process for that particular solution. Again, we are focused on making it as easy as possible to install something into Eclipse.

So far the response to MPC has been great. In October we have just over 190K unique users of MPC and as you know we just celebrated 1,000,000 successful installs.

InfoQ: What do you see as avenues for further growth of the Eclipse Marketplace?

Ian Skerrett: We are seeing consistent growth in the usage of MPC and the number of solutions listed in the catalog. I think as more solution providers use the drag-to-install feature on their web site, we will see even more people use it. It really is making it easier for developers to discover and install new solutions into Eclipse.

The marketplace isn't just about IDE-based tools. It also contains a number of RCP applications, such as RSSOwl, a standalone RSS news reader built on Eclipse RCP technology. There's also a special category for services for organisations providing training or consulting based on Eclipse technology.

Finally, you can log into the Marketplace with Eclipse Bugzilla credentials, and create your own list of favourites. This allows you to consume all the plugins you've marked as favourite via a user-specific update site.

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