The Rise of the User Community

I’m a big Bjorn fan. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well in my years of involvement with Eclipse. There is no mistaking his passion for open source communities and he’s like me, he wears his emotions on his sleeve when things aren’t going as well as they could. I’m really enjoying his series on the State of Eclipse. Most of his points I totally agree with based on my experience with CDT, e.g., the need for Diversity and the continuing battle between the User and Vendor communities over the need of an Eclipse product that users can count on, where as I stated in the comments, this is an area that is fundamentally broken at Eclipse.

However, I can’t agree that his solution of relying on the members to provide free distributions of Eclipse to replace the distros available at eclipse.org, is the right solution. I’ll go further and say it won’t even work. As I also stated in the comments, the members that produce commercial IDEs do so in competition with the free distros from Eclipse.org. Making a free distro available from their web sites and supported by them makes no business sense, and knowing sales people as I do, they’ll veto it immediately to protect their revenue. Some companies may differ and that’s the only hope I see for it.

And there’s another reason why the distros at eclipse.org are important. There is a growing list of large User companies that are beginning to contribute to Eclipse to support the free distribution with their user base. You’ll notice that the CDT has committers from Google and Ericsson, both of which are examples of this. Without their contributions, the CDT would certainly be worse off. I also met with another such large vendor at EclipseCon who also promised as their developers get up to speed they’ll be contributing.

For the CDT, this is the most promising area of growth in the contributor community, and these guys rely on the distros from Eclipse.org. I’m not about to shoot myself in the foot and even if the Foundation put a stop to this (which Mike assures us won’t happen), I’d still make a C/C++ IDE available from the CDT store.

It’s been a great debate and that’s what’s so great about open source communities. Everyone has the freedom to state their opinion, Bjorn included. Take advantage of that and think about what they are saying. You might find yourself changing your mind. But don’t do it in this case ;).