I am a committer

McQ's thoughts on things Eclipse

Some background on the “e4” component

Over the last couple of days, there has been a lot of discussion about the announcement of a new component, called “e4” (“efour”), as part of the Eclipse Project Incubator. I believe that most of this stems from the fact that a rather poor job was done of explaining the intent of the component. Several of the committers have made admirable efforts at answering peoples questions, and I took a stab at it in the eclipse.org-architecture-council mailing list. It was suggested on the list that this message should get out to a wider audience, so I’m going to paraphrase it here (with some edits via sober second thought):

Eclipse 4.0 and the need for community participation

I know that everyone involved in the Eclipse community is trying to do the right thing. I also know that we all believe that the level of communication and community participation that will be required to make Eclipse 4.0 succeed is orders of magnitude more than what you have seen from us in the past.

So, like everyone who is learning a new way to work, what we absolutely need from the community is positive re-inforcement when we get things right, and gentle 🙂 chastisement when we mess up. It’s clear that, the way that the e4 component has been described so far has confused things more than it has helped. I’ll make another attempt at clearing that up below, but I want to make one other point first.

I care deeply about Eclipse. I have been fighting for its success since day zero. When I look at Eclipse.org today, I am truly humbled by the sheer magnitude of the successes we (all) have built, and I really do GET IT that it is the community that has generated that success. So I’m going to be completely open here: I am royally pissed that something so critical to all our successes (i.e. the Eclipse SDK) is being built by a very small team, most of whom come from one company. There are exactly two things that I believe are threatening the continued success of Eclipse right now:

  • lack of a diverse, growing committer community on the SDK
  • a codebase that is so constrained by history that it can’t respond to a rapidly changing computing environment

Addressing those two things is exactly why the e4 effort was started. No hidden agendas. No extra direction from IBM to solve some new business problem. Nothing else. So what it all comes down to is this: If someone sees us doing something that doesn’t look like it matches one of those goals, absolutely speak up! But, for God’s sake, give us the benefit of a doubt. We will make mistakes, but they will be honest ones. For my part, I personally commit to making e4 be the kind of community driven project we all want.

Let me talk a bit more about the e4 component…

The only code that currently exists that is related to e4, is a couple of cool(ish) demos (neither of which is called “e4”) that we built to help us figure out whether some ideas we had about new directions were valuable or not — As Steve Northover says, “We think with our fingers”. I’d been planning to show that code at EclipseCON, because I also believe that demos speak louder than powerpoint, but we really only had them in publishable shape in the last couple of weeks. In retrospect, what we should have done was just dump them in some existing place in CVS and be done with it, but we thought that making them more visible was important. The idea was that by building a separate component for them, they would both be easy to find and, when we did get the e4 effort rolling, they would be easy to move to another home (assuming that made sense).

Obviously, we misjudged the implications of the proposal that went out. If I had know that it was going to have the impact that it did I would have spent more time wordsmithing it when Steve showed it to me. I apologize to the community for the confusion that it caused. [Heck, when I went back and re-read it, I thought it was bogus.]

I do believe that there will need to be a new shared area to work, once e4 actually starts to happen. My current theory is that the best place for that would be as a new incubator project unto itself, under the Eclipse Project, with the initial committer list being *everyone* who wants to get involved. That’s just my opinion, and I’m looking for feedback from the community. Let’s talk.

(Original message here.)


Written by themcq

March 7, 2008 at 18:44

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. McQ, I would strongly encourage you to blog more often. You’re clearly capable of writing compelling prose. I’m hopeful the community will get past the chastisement so we can move on to the fun part: painting a new picture together!

    Go Eclipse go. We’re a community. Let’s show the rest of the world how open communities learn, growth, and thrive as a result.

    Ed Merks

    March 7, 2008 at 19:54

  2. I wonder if the general community realizes how small the platform team really is. I look around at the slowly shrinking team and the growing pile of work and wonder how it can last.

    I hope all this uproar over the announcement of an incubator whose purpose is to “provide a public venue for the initial explorations” means that there are a lot of people waiting to jump on board and help us out.

    Andrew Niefer

    March 7, 2008 at 20:40

  3. Thanks McQ! This is very much appreciated and will go a very long way to calming the fears in the community.

    And, yes, we do know that the team at OTI is shrinking. That’s why this openness is essential towards attracting contributions and hopefully new committers.

    Doug Schaefer

    March 7, 2008 at 22:36

  4. […] that, if the prelude was any indication, I expect it will be a very exciting conference this year. I’m looking […]

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