Thanks John. I'm glad you commented.
And you are right, I think the problem is just perception and based more on the past than the present. And, in many ways, it's those changes that help give me hope. If we do get more people interested in contributing, we have a much better ability at affecting
change now than we ever have.
Gunnar Wagenknecht wrote on 07/18/2013 05:01:50 AM:
> Too much of the platform is still
> dominated and controlled too strictly by that one single company.
> Contributions got turned away because of the "lack of resources"
> argument and associated maintenance costs long term. To some point
> those arguments aren't completely invalid. I'm at a point of being
> resigned when it comes to contributing to the platform.
This statement worries me more than everything else that has been written in this thread. It makes sense that there are very few committers who are focused on the requirements of the direct Eclipse user base. There are few people with the
motivation to even gather feedback on the pain points of using a free tool, let alone spending significant time addressing them. I believe the main focus for most current committers is:
1) Stuff *they* (or their employer) want to focus on
2) Enabling other contributors to help *them* fix the problems they want to see fixed
I think this is one of Doug's key points, that working to enable more contributors is the only scalable solution. Imagine someone spent the time to gather a list of the "top 5" most pressing problems/enhancement requests. Maybe the current
committers can take this list and fix 1 or 2 of them between their other priorities. Well, next year there will be a new list, and more requests, and still no more people to work on them. It will not result in a dramatic transformation of the perception or
trajectory of Eclipse as an IDE.
However Gunnar's comment says we are even failing on enabling contributors, which vexes me. I actually thought we had made improvements on that in the past couple of years. The Foundation and many committers have been working to reduce barriers
to contribution in any way possible. Switching to Git, moving the build to Maven/Tycho, adopting Gerrit, and holding dedicated patch review days are a few of the things committers have been doing. From the statistics it looks like we are even starting to see
results on this. Ohloh metrics have shown a stable or even slight upwards trend in the number of Platform contributors in the past couple of years . JDT core and SWT, historically the two components with the toughest standards for accepting committers,
have both seen committers from new companies this year. Platform UI, which is in a position to address many of the preference problems described here, has THIRTY NINE committers. I don't doubt there are still barriers, but it looks like at least some people
are managing to overcome them and bring their contributions into the platform.
Personally most the time I used to spend directly fixing user reported problems, I now spend reviewing patches and trying to enable others to contribute fixes instead. If successful, this has a multiplier effect that grows the base of people
capable of contributing and is, I think, the best use of the limited committer resources we have available. So don't tell me what you want to see fixed. Tell me how I can help you to fix them.