Eclipse Dominates Grassroots IDE Survey, Sets Tone for Open-Source Java

The Eclipse open-source application development platform more than doubles its closest competitor, Visual Studio, in a straw poll survey.

The Eclipse platform dominated a straw poll on integrated development environments, more than doubling the ranking of the next closest IDE in the survey, Microsofts Visual Studio.

The survey on the Tezaa opinion engine site, a community site driven by polls, highlights what many observers have said about the IDE space: that the battle for IDE supremacy is between the open-source Eclipse application development platform and Microsofts Visual Studio.

As of early on Sept. 18, the Tezaa survey showed that about 58 percent of developers polled said Eclipse is their favorite IDE. Visual Studio came in second with just over 18 percent of developers claiming it as their favorite.

The third place position was "text editor all the way," meaning more than 14 percent of developers polled said they prefer to use text editors as their main development environment. Suns NetBeans came in fourth with nearly 8 percent. The fifth spot was taken by developers who simply responded: "IDE?" That accounted for 3 percent. Adobe Systems Dreamweaver was sixth with 1 percent, and Zend Technologies Zend Studio came in last with 0.67 percent.

After viewing the poll results, Eclipse Foundation Executive Director Mike Milinkovich took a shot at Sun Microsystems NetBeans open-source development platform.

In a blog post, Milinkovich said, "Although it is admittedly unscientific, Im pretty amazed to see Eclipse out ahead of Visual Studio."

/zimages/6/28571.gifMike Milinkovich shares the secret sauce of open-source ingredients that draws developers to Eclipse. Click here to read more.

Yet, in a postscript to his blog post, Milinkovich said, "Anyone wanna take a bet on how long it takes the Sun guys to Astroturf this?"

Astroturfing often involves a small number of "people discreetly posing as mass numbers of activists advocating a specific cause," according to a definition of the term on the Wikipedia site. Astroturfing in this sense would involve Sun NetBeans backers attempting to flood the Tezaa poll with pro-NetBeans responses.

Some respondents to Milinkovichs blog post took offense to his quip about Sun, though Milinkovich included a smiling icon to indicate he was joking about the comment.

Yet Milinkovich has taken Sun to task before. In August, he blogged about Suns plans to open-source its Java technology and predicted that the company will use CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License) and will wind up being hated by developers.

In a prediction titled "My Prediction Still Stands," Milinkovich said he believes Sun should adopt an Eclipse-like model.

In the post, Milinkovich said: "Back in May at JavaOne I participated in the JavaPro Java Technology Roundtable, where I made the following prognostication: Mikes fearless prediction: Youre [Sun] going to use CDDL, and youre going to use an OpenOffice, all-Sun governance model, and people will hate you for it."

Moreover, Milinkovich said, "I hope Rich Green [Suns executive vice president of software] hasnt forgotten my e-mail address, as I have to admit that I find Eclipses conspicuous absence from their lists of exemplars to be somewhat disheartening. Especially given what a gift Eclipse has been to growing the Java development community over the past five years."

/zimages/6/28571.gifSun plans to open-source its implementation of the Java ME specification by the end of the year. Click here to read more.

In addition, he said, "The fact is that an Eclipse Foundation-style model of independent, open governance with no special votes or vetoes for any particular corporation is exactly the model that Java needs to have if it is to be successfully reinvigorated. I really believe that Eclipse remains the very best current example of how a company can set free a community of innovative projects which supports a large and diverse commercial ecosystem. And Eclipses dynamic growth since the creation of the Foundation proves that the model works."

Milinkovich echoed these sentiments at the recent EclipseWorld conference in Cambridge, Mass.

In his blog post from August, Milinkovich said Eclipse is the best model for Sun to follow in its effort to open-source Java.

"Emulating Apache is a non-starter," Milinkovich said in his August blog. "First of all, the Apache style of governance is antithetical to any project under single company control. Secondly, emulating Apache would just be dumb. Dont emulate it. If you like their approach, just open-source Java at Apache."

Moreover, "emulating Linux also seems far-fetched, as it is ultimately a reflection of [Linux creator] Linus Torvalds benevolent dictatorship," Milinkovich said. "And regardless of any shared god complexes, [Sun Vice President James] Gosling is no Linus."

Eliminating those options "leaves us with the OpenSolaris governance model as the likeliest candidate," Milinkovich said in his blog.

Moreover, "Note the majority votes held by Sun appointees," he said. "Note that it is an advisory board to what remains a Sun-defined and Sun-controlled Sun project, just like OpenOffice and NetBeans. … Contrast that to the Eclipse Foundation Bylaws, which form a legally distinct entity controlled by an independent Board of Directors with a fiduciary responsibility."

However, Milinkovich said he wishes Sun well in its effort to open-source Java, noting that "I really hope that they can find a way to establish Java as truly free and independent. But so far I stand behind my prediction."

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