Remember PluginFest?

It’s been a while since it was held. The Eclipse PluginFest was a really cool event organized by Ian Skerrett and hosted by the folks at Symbian in London. It was part marketing event and part engineering event intended to show how off the promise of Eclipse as a platform by doing some interoperability testing between the different products, focusing at the time on the embedded/mobile market. For the most part, it was a success, especially for tools up the stack like analysis and modeling tools.

But one thing that was clear then and is still true today is that plug-ins from platform providers, generally vendors that provide tools for building applications and customizations for their operating systems, don’t mix. In fact most of them assume that you are not building for other platforms and many of them have their own version of the Eclipse platform.

But as I take a look at the mobile space, it is clear that an application developer if they want to hit the largest possible market, are going to have to target multiple platforms. I don’t see one winner taking hold yet. iPhone is in the lead, but Android is making progress, and the others are hungry for a piece of the pie.

The question is who owns that problem? I looks to me, anyway, that the platform vendors are actually more interested in locking developers into their platforms. That is most obvious with iPhone and the fact you can only use Macs as development hosts. The Android plug-in assumes you are using Eclipse only for Android development, breaking a number of UI guidelines along the way (I don’t want to hear from it if my current workspace has no Android content, damn SDK location dialog, grrr).

I have no answers. My hope is that the newly renamed Sequoyah project looking at tools for mobile can be a focal point. That will require more vendors to participate in it. I think it’ll also require the developer community to stand up and demand more from the vendors and maybe Sequoyah would be a good venue for that. At the end of the day, who is looking out for the poor app developer who needs to deal with all this?