Are Modern IDEs Boring?

IDEs – What Does the Next Decade Have in Store?

Jessica Thornsby

“I miss the heyday of the IDE wars,” says Mik Kersten.

Mik Kersten has posted a blog lamenting the lack of commercial competition in the current IDE market. “I miss the heyday of the IDE wars,” he says, arguing that since IBM open sourced Eclipse, Java developers have come to expect their IDE to be free, resulting in a decrease in activity within the IDE market. In his opinion, the initial commercial competition between companies such as Borland and Microsoft, directly resulted in the development of refactoring, structured editing, GUI builders, and more.

“The base IDE feature set has now been standardized and commoditized. In other words, it has become a lot more boring,” he says, “vendors have to pull zany moves like running a thin subset of IDE functionality in a web browser” – presumably a reference to Orion. Moving forward, he expects IDE innovation to focus on “nice tweaks and features as you would expect with mature tools like cars or can openers,” but key functionality such as code editing, debugging and deployment will only be solidified, and tool innovation will start to occur on top of the IDE platform. He predicts these tool innovations will revolve around collaboration features, as he believes developers spend just as much time collaborating on code, as they do hacking it. Consequently, developers will come to select their IDEs based on the number and availability of third party extensions, rather than the IDE feature set itself.

Kersten also predicts that the next decade of development will focus on the ability to personalise your IDE experience, with the integration of Agile, ALM and task-focused workflow. Although this may not sound particularly exciting, he stresses that it will still positively impact on developer productivity.

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