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Eclipse popularity dips after Juno 4.2 platform release, survey finds

Chris Mayer

Eclipse’s annual report shows the open source foundation has plenty of work ahead of Kepler.

After last year’s bungled Juno release, the Eclipse Foundation face a real challenge with their upcoming release train, Kepler, to win back the trust of developers.

The latest Eclipse Community Survey shows a number of concerns ahead for the open source foundation, mostly surrounding adoption and popularity. Only 56% of those asked are using Eclipse 4.2, the new platform packaged with Juno which ran afoul of severe performance issues, with an additional 12.9% using Eclipse 3.8.

“Eclipse 4.2 seems to be quite slow compared with Indigo,” noted one respondent, while another said simply: “Stop adding features and make it faster”.

Ian Skerrett, Eclipse’s Marketing Director, believes the slow uptake is “most likely the result of the performance issues found in Eclipse 4.2.” This in turn may explain the slump in developer satisfaction, with only 81% of those surveyed being either very satisfied or satisfied with Eclipse. In 2012, this figure was 90%. Skerrett adds that the results were “not very good news” and hopes both will be “addressed as the Eclipse 4.x platform continues to mature.”

Survey results suggest Eclipse face an uphill battle with Orion, the foundation’s web-based IDE which was first appeared in 2011. When asked about their opinion on IDEs such as Orion, Codenvy or Cloud9, 36.7% of those surveyed claimed to not know enough to form an opinion, while 35.4% said they had no interest at all.

Despite the sample being heavily enterprise users, it does suggest that it could be an uphill struggle for Eclipse to convince developers to move to the browser. Skerrett said “early days” but he does believe the results show a greater need for web-based IDE “education and evangelism” to change perceptions.

It’s a similar story for cloud. 47% said they had no plans for deploying applications to a cloud infrastructure, which is only marginally less than two years ago (52.7%). However, mobile development is definitely on the minds of Eclipse developers, with only 22.4% without plans to develop applications for mobile devices in the foreseeable future.

In the Eclipse annual report, published alongside the survey, the open source foundation says its second strategic goal is to advance Eclipse technology on high-growth platforms such as web, cloud and mobile.

While placing faith in new technologies, with Orion and the number of machine-to-machine projects, may help Eclipse stay relevant, it seems that a good number of developers in Eclipse’s community are struggling to see the benefits, at least at present.

Although the number of active projects has dropped by twenty in the past year, now standing at 177, along with the number of committers, the number of commits has risen sharply.

Other interesting tidbits from the survey show that Java is still dominant, with 67% of respondents using it as their primary language. Maven has finally overtaken Ant as the build tool of choice, with 41.3% of developers using it compared to 38.3% of those opting for Java’s older command-line tool. Continuous integration server Jenkins lies in third with 35.3%.

In regards to source code management, Subversion continues to cling onto top spot with 37.8% of developers using, but has lost further ground to Git at 30.3%. This year, Github was given its own category, attaining 6%. Combined, Git and GitHub are right behind the older software control system.

The entire survey results are available in ods and xls format should want to find further insights. Comments from the survey are also public [Excel file], with some particularly strong comments about 4.2, showing the community are really turned off by the next generation platform.

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