I ran across this review of Eclipse Europa on eWeek that came out yesterday. It confirms almost every concern and hope that I had for the Europa C/C++ package that people have been downloading in droves from eclipse.org. And it was really interesting that this guy is a former Windows C++ developer who is very familiar with Visual Studio who is now doing Mobile development, the exact scenario that we see a lot of and is the biggest growth area for Eclipse on the C/C++ side.
The first thing that hit me was his summary: “Eclipse Europa is a solid IDE, but it could use more refined packaging for the Windows platform”. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, what more can I say.
The sore points that he ran into really home for me. His biggest complaint was the install. He had expected the C/C++ IDE package to include the gcc compiler. There are still way too many steps to getting this package to be useful for C++ developers. “Nothing leaves a more sour taste in a Windows user’s mouth than an application not working properly, or requiring additional manual configurations, after clicking finish on the installation wizard’s final panel.”
He also had trouble dealing with the Eclipse workspace paradigm. Visual Studio is much more flexible about what files are included/excluded from a project. This is an area we really need to deal with to make these guys comfortable.
He had some good things to say too, though, and he really showed why I think Eclipse will be attractive to Windows developers once we clean things up. The CVS integration is unbeatable. He loved the CDT editor and navigation features including CDT’s new Call Hierarchy view. It’s these features that really bring the CDT into the mainstream.
One thing to notice, though, is that the title of the article seems to address all of Europa, at least that’s what readers will see first. That’s why we really need to be careful when we present Eclipse as an IDE. It isn’t an IDE accross the board (not to open that debate again). But users see the word IDE and have pretty high expectations. And when it falls short, it looks bad on everyone.