Linux Developers Considering Move to Eclipse

Linux and Eclipse leaders and programmers are trying to make Eclipse the IDE of choice for Linux software development.

When youre talking Linux development tools, chances are youre talking about decades-old programming editors like vi and EMACS. These are fine for an older generation of programmers, but todays developers, weaned on Microsoft Visual Studio, want integrated development environments.

At the recent Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, it was decided to start making Eclipse, the open-source development platform, the Visual Studio for Linux.

Several issues have led to this decision. The first is simply that developers want an IDE. Several IDEs were discussed at a Linux Foundation breakout session led by Marc Miller, AMDs open-source ambassador, and Robert Schweikert, programmer and LSB (Linux Standard Base) developer.

In the end, Eclipse emerged as a favored IDE solution for the gaps found in other existing developer tools now widely used by the community. As Miller said, "I think the consensus was that Visual Studio-era users want a good IDE, and the only open-source IDE with serious momentum is Eclipse, so we should start looking at making that work well for LSB development."

After Visual Studio, according to Evans Data, a research house specializing in development issues, Eclipse is the second most popular IDE with more than 2 million users. Outside of the North American market, Eclipse is quickly gaining ground on Visual Studio. A late 2006 Evans Data developer survey showed the adoption rate of Eclipse has more than doubled in EMEA (European, Middle Eastern and African).

Eclipse has also been developing a rich ecosystem of development tools around it. Dan Kegel, a Linux developer, found in a Web site survey that a search for third-party plugins/extensions found over 400,000 mentions of Visual Studio, followed by 145,000 for Eclipse, and, following far behind, NetBeans and vim with 51,000 and EMACS coming in with only 49,000 extension mentions.

From outside the Linux development world, it would seem that this choice is a no-brainer. However, Eclipse is still largely seen as a Java IDE, rather than an IDE for any language. Eclipse can, and has been, turned into an IDE for everything from Java and JavaScript to C, C++ and C# and scripting languages like PHP, Perl, Python and COBOL.

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