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Bye bye Eclipse? [message #572786] Sat, 03 April 2010 21:38
Dirk Hoffmann is currently offline Dirk HoffmannFriend
Messages: 163
Registered: July 2009
Senior Member
Hi,

I've been developing an RCP+EMF based tool for one and a half year now,
starting as an Eclipse newbie in terms of developing on top of the
Eclipse platform. (I had been using eclipse as a Java developer quite
some time before).

The tool was released recently as part of a larger software product.
Nevertheless my boss is considering to stop Eclipse based development.
That's because the productivity when developing against the RCP is just
to low. (My boss was impressed by a Tcl/Tk based tool demoable after two
weeks of time, written by a Tcl/Tk guru).

I'm sending this to the (and maybe others) Eclipse mailing list because
I want the Eclipse core team to know about the typical problems I (and
probably others who are the kind of newbie I am) have been facing and of
course hoping to get tips from the experts how to improve my way of
working with Eclipse.

If this isn't the right place please tell me where to post this instead.

So here some examples of the typical kind of problems:

Example 1
---------
When moving from Eclipse 3.2 to 3.5 I found our product no longer
displayed its name at the top of the application window but instead the
%name placeholder as defined in the plugin.properties file. The most
popular search engine and the documentation I found couldn't help in
this case. After hours of debugging platform code using conditional
breakpoints chasing for the "%name" string I found the problem. As of
Eclipse 3.4 the default location of the bundle resource moved to
OSGI-INF/l10n/bundle.properties. You get the old behavior by putting
Bundle-Localization=plugin into the MANIFEST.MF. After completing my
debugging session I knew what key words to search for and found some
documentation on this.

Example 2
---------
When it goes to developing at the UI level the first question often is:
Do I have to develop these on my own or is there something I can reuse
and if Yes what is the name of the class. Even if I find a class name
Shift+Ctrl-T doesn't find me the class unless it happens to be in a
package mentioned in the list of dependencies. I always have one dummy
plug-in project that depends on a huge number of plug-ins just to let me
find those classes. I even wrote some shell scripts analyzing the
plugins folder to resolve class names to plug-in names.

Example 3
---------
When finished writing some UI stuff very often the problem is to get the
effects to the surface. You never know whether to call the layout(),
update(), refresh(), etc. method or need to set the size on the object.
A colleague of mine presented a case where he had to implement an event
handler that changes the event's data to change the size of some element.

The examples described above are symptomatic for what slowed me down so
often.

So essentially these were the problems:

o Documentation does not exist, is outdated or is hard to find

o If things don't work as expected and this is often the case trial and
error is required or debugging where "debugging" means stepping through
tons of platform code or code generated by some source generator in the
case of EMF eating up hours of development time. In fact the debugging
perspective is the active one most of the time.

o The SWT/JFace-APIs and other APIs are inconsistent.

o Reproducible or even automatic build are a problem of its own with
Eclipse.

o Seems there is just too much to learn for a single person to get an
Eclipse based product rolled out in time. That's what's sometimes called
a steep learning curve (a misnomer in my oppinion).

I wonder how others manage to finish Eclipse-based projects within a
reasonable timeframe. Do they have big teams of Eclipse specialists or
some, possibly commercial, tools helping them with their work?

Please tell me what it needs to write eclipse based software with
reasonable effort.

Thanks and Regards,
Dirk
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