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User Spotlight - Lars Vogel

What do you do?

I'm in the lucky position to live my personal Open Source dream. After approx. 15 years in the industrial software industry I co-founded the vogella GmbH which has the target to acquire and distribute knowledge in the Open Source world. We spend approximately 50 % our time working for customers (training, consulting, development) and 50 % of our time working on Open Source projects. In our Open Source work, the Eclipse project is definitely the area where we mainly spend our time, because we love the technology and the community. We also believe that enhancing Eclipse has a high impact on the efficiency of the Java development community.

Last but not least, I spend a significant amout of time writing about Open Source technology on our website and in the form of books.

How long have you been using Eclipse?

Honestly, I don't remember. I think I started with a version of Eclipse 2, which should make it around 2003 or 2004. When Eclipse 3.0 was released I started with the Eclipse RCP platform, at the beginning just for fun and later to write tools to simplify my daily work. For example while working for SAP AG I used to be responsible for the performance test activities for a software component. I wrote an RCP application for automating the setup and configuration process and afterwards our team was able to setup a new performance test system within hours instead of months.

Name five plugins you use and recommend:

Besides the obvious things, like platform, SWT and JDT which every Eclipse user has to use, my favorite are:

  • EGit: I cannot imagine better Git support within the Eclipse IDE. And don't get me wrong here, I think EGit still has room to improve (hint: less blocking popups for success messages), but the community behind EGit is amazing. Matthias Sohn the leader is very open and responsive to feedback. They have a strong community and the core EGit developers (like Robin Stocker, who contributes in his spare time) have an eye for performance and usability issues. Their superb Gerrit support makes the contribution process to the Eclipse project as smooth as possible, hence they are a strong catalyst for several projects. A very strong #1.
  • Tycho: A close second to EGit is the Tycho build tooling for Eclipse components. While building is commonly considered a bit dull (== it just should work), I feel that a good build story is essential for an open source project. Also I enjoy the interaction with the Tycho community and their leader Jan Sievers. It is fun to report an issue in Tycho, because the Tycho developers are immediately analyzing the issue and either helping you or improving their tooling. Tycho is also the cornerstone of the CBI build initiative of Eclipse and has enabled the platform team to provide an Eclipse build setup which allows everyone to run an Eclipse SDK build with just a few commands.
  • M2E: The Maven tooling in Eclipse is a bit of a love/ hate relationship for me. I value the recent work Igor Fedorenko and Jason van Zyl have put into Maven and m2e and think it is great that Redhat developers are helping. Good Maven support is crucial for the Eclipse community and I believe the M2E developers start addressing a lot of outstanding issues these days.
  • Automatic error reporting: A relative new initiative by Marcel Bruch which allows to automatically report errors in the Eclipse IDE to Marcel and I used to work together and I cherish his energy to improve the development experience in the Eclipse IDE. His latest tooling, the automatic error reporting, can be a game changer for the Eclipse IDE. If we as a developer community get aggregated data about the problems areas within the Eclipse IDE, we can focus our energy within these areas. His tooling also integrates nicely with our (Eclipse platform) new interactive performance monitor which Google contributed. This tooling allows to report UI freezes and Marcels error reporting tool picks these up and create bug reports for the corresponding component. We already see several performance related fixes triggered by these reports. I believe that this will help us to provide the fastest IDE out there.
  • saneclipse: That is a very personal pick but we at vogella GmbH started recently a small project to provide better default settings and templates for the Eclipse IDE. Whenever I'm at the customer side, it almost breaks my heart to see how many Java developers struggle with the Eclipse IDE, because of certain default settings. So instead of hoping that every developer learns more about the Eclipse IDE, we now provide a set of plug-ins which we think make the life of the developer easier. We plan to extend this activity, e.g. by developing additional functionality in saneclipse and to apply our learnings as much as possible back to the Eclipse project.

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not working?

Playing with my kids and in general spending time with my family is the greatest time I have. Having small kids is very awesome, because you can play with Lego, learn to ride the Wave Board and the like. I also picked up the habit of regular running and find it these days very relaxing to run 2-3 times per week.

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