A few days ago I posted a blog entry worrying about the openness of the Eclipse Platform team. I thought it would generate a flood of comments saying I was wrong. And to a certain extent, I probably am wrong. But I think its a serious issue that people need to think about.

I guess the point I was really trying to make is that we as the Eclipse community outside of the Platform have depended too much on IBM/OTI’s great contributions, to the point where we expect them to fix all of our problems. My experience with open source projects is that it just doesn’t work that way.

Open source developers usually work on open source projects for a reason. They are trying to get something done for themselves, and really as a side affect they hope that others will find it useful as well and maybe come help out. Because open source software is free, I think people start to think it’s more like a charity, but it isn’t. And I think this is even a bigger factor with Eclipse since the vast majority of developers are employed to work on Eclipse projects. They respond to the community as much as they can, but at the end of the day, if their empoyer asks them to work on something else, that has to have priority.

So if you have a bug that isn’t getting the attention you think it deserves, please think of the people at the other end. There’s a good chance it’s not because they think you’re problem isn’t important, but that they have probably been assigned work elsewhere and really just don’t have the time. Do as much leg work as you can. Create a really good bug report that has a patch and a really good justification that shows you thought about the fix as much as the committer would have. Make it as easy for the committer to fix your problem as you can.

And if you find you really depend on certain functionality that isn’t being provided or bugs that you really need fixed, and you do enough great patches, you can become a committer too. The more committers we get from different employers, the better off we’ll all be. That kind of redundancy is important in open source and is something we’ve really learned to appreciate on the CDT project.