Dear Eclipse

Posted by Tejus Parikh on January 23, 2010

It’s over, we’re done. No need to come by and collect your stuff. Your workspace is already in the trash. There’s no trace you were even here.

I still remember when I first gave you a shot. I had tried other IDE’s, but all they seemed to offer where headaches. Vim and Ant simply worked better.

But then you came along, with compile as you type and amazing CVS integration. Suddenly, my collection of a half dozen command line utilities were reduced to one. I was so taken with SWT and it’s ability to look native on each platform, that I even wrote an entire application in it.

My love only grew when I took a professional development job. I had to use Windows, you made it possible to get something done. But looking back, that’s also when our relationship started to crack. We switched from CVS to SVN, negating one of the greatest advantages you had.

I switched jobs again and this time I was introduced to Intellij IDEA. Sure it was nice, but it didn’t compare to you. It’s version control integration was confusing. It didn’t support all features and languages you did, and it’s auto-compile just didn’t work as nicely. I stuck with you.

But the cracks that appeared earlier started growing. Each new feature you supported and every new plugin written for you never seemed to work right. Everything had rough edges, caveats, and felt distinct from everything else in the system.

You just didn’t take care of yourself. As computers got faster, you got slower. Every editor seems slow to respond to keyboard input. The XML editor is the single worst editor I have ever used. Typing in your IDE shouldn’t feel like telneting over a dial-up connection. You started bloating up to the size of a beached whale in a sad attempt to be everything to everyone. While you allowed everyone to attach to you, you forgot about what made you great in the first place, Java development.

You didn’t keep up with the best practices. You don’t work well with maven projects. Refactoring doesn’t work across the entire workspace. You should never ask me for the location of the source for a class when it is in your workspace. It’s 2010, these are things you should do right by now.

One of your great features was the ability to use external editors for resources managed by the IDE. Unfortunately, whether or not that file was refreshed in the workspace seemed like a decision that rested in God’s hands.

Lets not even talk about version control. The subclipse/subversive split was a disaster and your git support is a joke. You once replaced my entire stack of tools. Now to get anything done, I now have to open a bunch of terminals, gitx, textmate, and you.

Remember that other IDE I played around with? It’s kept itself in shape. It looks better than it ever has. It never promised to do everything, and that’s left it with few wrinkles and sharp edges. It works with a Maven project structure, has real support for Git, and does a fantastic job of editing Java. And now it’s open source too, just like you.

That’s why it’s over. It’s always sad to see something with so much promise ruined by neglect and bloat. But it is what it is and it’s time to move on.

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Tejus Parikh

Tejus is an software developer, now working at large companies. Find out when I write new posts on twitter, via RSS or subscribe to the newsletter: