Eclipse 3.3 Released

Let me go on record as frowning upon the modern take on the Integrated Development Environment. My idea of a great IDE is having a text editor, file browser, and Firefox all open at the same time. The modern IDE has gone from a programmer’s convenience tool to a bloated, pushy, mind-rotting implement that turns out some of the slowest, ugliest, bloatiest code you’ll ever see (shakes fist at Visual Studio).

That being said, I really, really like Eclipse.

Eclipse is an open-source software framework. Basically, it’s an IDE for creating IDE’s. By default it comes with a Java IDE and is very popular for Java development, but there are plug-in toolkits that allow you to use Eclipse as an IDE for just about anything. Right now I use it for general web development (HTML, CSS, Javascript, AJAX, etc.), PHP, and Python. Eclipse itself is written in Java, so running it on your platform won’t be a problem.

I like Eclipse for a number of reasons:*

  • It doesn’t think it’s smarter than I am. It helps me write code - it doesn’t try to write code for me.

  • It doesn’t obfuscate anything. It doesn’t write some value in a hidden file in some directory it cooked up all by itself that (a) you don’t know about and (b) is going to royally screw you at some point in the near future.

  • It requires you to know what you are doing with code. If you don’t understand how you would write it from scratch or what exactly the code is doing, you probably shouldn’t let some wizard write it for you. In my experience, Wizard != Gandalf. I’ve seen code created by default in Visual Studio that will literally make your server weep.

  • It doesn’t require you to take a week long course and six months of fiddling to become proficient with the IDE. Eclipse is fairly easy to pick up and use.

  • It makes my life easier in an unobtrusive way.

The Eclipse Foundation recently announced it’s largest-ever release, code name Eurpoa.** It includes 21 projects by 310 developers in 19 countries and more than 17 million lines of code, the key element being version 3.3 of the Eclipse platform. It’s a major update, and if you currently use Eclipse I highly recommend upgrading.

If you don’t use Eclipse and need a good IDE, I’d recommend giving it a try. It’s free, open-source, and it doesn’t install anything on your machine (you literally unzip it and run it). All you need is a Java runtime environment. And if you’re a Linux user, you won’t be alone - the Linux Foundation has decided to make Eclipse the “Visual Studio” for Linux (see Linux-Watch here).

Take those reasons and reverse them and you’ll know why Visual Studio makes me want to put my head through my LCD.
*I really need to start giving my projects code names. All the cool projects have code names. “I’m working on my next release, code name Goober.”