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Scarce Resources Hampering Bug Fixing in Eclipse

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A scarcity of resources in the community has resulted in Eclipse bugs going unaddressed, in some cases for many years. One frustrated user recently posted a comment on the Eclipse "Bugzilla" bug tracker:

"It's only been 3 years. Other eclipse bugs that I reported are still open after 9 years.

Sad to say, but Eclipse smells a kind of dead."

Responding on his blog CDT-lead Doug Schaefer asserts that

"Those of us who work in the Eclipse community know that isn't true, but it certain isn't as alive as it was in the early years."

He goes on to lament

"Even from my experience on the CDT, we have a small handful of dedicated and productive committers, but we do have lots of bugs that don't get addressed.

"Building an IDE, especially one that supports so many environments, requires a lot more contributors than we currently have. It's an age old problem that I've struggled with for all my years involved in Eclipse and many of those as a project lead. How do you grow your contributor community?" 

Doug Schaefer has been for the past eight years project lead for Eclipse CDT, the Eclipse project that provides Eclipse-style execution, editing, and refactoring to C and C++ projects.

Eclipse is a culmination of sorts in an evolution of Java IDEs that started with Symantec Visual Cafe back in the early days of Java, followed by many entries including Sybase PowerJ, Borland JBuilder, Microsoft J++, IBM Visual Age, and in recent years IntelliJ by Jetbrains, Eclipse by The Eclipse Foundation, and NetBeans by Oracle. Each of these skillfully looked over its shoulder and played copycat until today where Eclipse, IntelliJ, and NetBeans dominate the market. A quick glance at any of those would not easily distinguish one rom the others, although further scrutiny will expose large differences. The adherents of each are quite vocal in their preferences.

It's difficult to measure market share since each of these has free full-featured offerings  (IntelliJ introduced their Community Edition in late 2009), so developers frequently download and use two or three IDE's. But it is safe to say that Eclipse, the first open source offering, has captured the lion's share of the market. IntelliJ IDEA was the first full featured Java IDE to introduce refactoring back in 2001, based on Martin Fowler's 1999 best-seller "Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code", and has led the pack in introducing and supporting new refactorings. NetBeans tends to be the earliest adopter of the newest Oracle technologies.

Doug Schaefer concludes his blog by announcing a secondary pursuit:

"To have Eclipse release more often. We've decided this for the CDT. Yearly releases are way too far apart, especially when you want to inject innovation into our product. If you release more often, contributors get the reward of seeing their contributions in action sooner."

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