Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Eclipse Rules

Eclipse must be doing very well. I can tell because there is now at least one blog entirely dedicated to listing all of the problems with Eclipse. By comparison, I can't find any blog or website dedicated to NetBeans complaints.

It may seem counter-intuitive that one's vocal critics are a measure of one's success, but consider the case of author Dan Brown. In an interview on NHPR, Brown talked about the uproar over The DaVinci Code. He was initially surprised by the volume of criticism. After all, his earlier book, Angels and Demons, was just as controversial, but it didn't generate anywhere near the same number of objections from readers. Brown's mathematician father explained all by pointing out a simple fact: The audience for the earlier book was a tiny fraction of those that read The DaVinci Code. You can't please everyone, so statistically speaking, lots of complaints might just be a sign you are a smash hit.

Taking the Eclipse vs. NetBeans comparison a step further, try comparing the number of Google hits for these two phrases: "eclipse sucks" and "netbeans sucks". Using Googlefight to do the comparison, I recorded 1840 hits for the Eclipse phrase vs. 421 hits for the NetBeans phrase. Knowing what I know about Eclipse, I'm sure this doesn't mean Eclipse is four times worse than NetBeans. More likely, it's an indication that Eclipse is four times more popular.


Bob said...


I think you might be overreacting a little here. Reading through this guy's blog it seems clear to me that the guy knows and likes NetBeans but has to work with Eclipse for a project. It doesn't work the way he likes and he's venting.

I like Eclipse; I've used it for years. But there's a learning curve. I've talked to a few people who are used to VisualStudio and tried Eclipse. They were pretty frustrated. Obviously different doesn't mean worse. I used VS and Eclipse and can switch back and forth without too much effort.

My experience with NetBeans is dated, I haven't used it seriously since 2001. So I can't make an informed comparison. But I have heard positive things about it. Eclipse is more popular but that doesn't mean that it's better, just more popular.

Personally, I think it's a good thing that Sun is still backing NetBeans. Competition is a healthy thing. And as a friend of mine says, it's a good thing that IntelliJ still exists too; the Eclipse team has been "borrowing" refactoring ideas from them for years. ;-)

Dave Delay said...

Bob, I didn't say Eclipse is better than NetBeans. I've never used NetBeans and such comparisons are meaningless anyway. It would be like saying Notes is better than Outlook. That might be true in specific cases (like Notes is better for RAD), but you can't defend it as a general rule. The feature sets are too broad and there are way too many specific applications of the two products.

The real point of my post was to say vocal criticism can be a measure of popularity. That's all. I think we agree on that, and I agree with your point about competition. It's definitely good Sun still backs NetBeans.

Bob said...

You're right, you didn't say that Eclipse was better. But the title of your post was "Eclipse Rules". Maybe you meant that ironically but, to me, saying that something "Rules" is not just a comment on popularity.

I don't think that comparisons are meaningless. But for a comparison to be meaningful to you, you have to consider the source and the arguments. A random person saying that "Eclipse sucks" isn't noteworthy. But if she has a set of specific complaints that bolster her argument, or if she's someone who you trust and respect, you'll give the opinion some weight. But that doesn't mean that you'll agree.

For example I think that Clearcase sucks. I know that we don't agree about that. I can enumerate why I feel that way but you've heard it all before. Noone has to agree with me but I believe I have some valid justifications based on the way I prefer to do source code control. Conversely, there are definitely people who think that Clearcase Rules and can enumerates all the reasons why.