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13 June 2013, 16:35

Eclipse faces challenges with adoption and popularity

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Eclipse logo The latest Eclipse Community Survey results highlight some challenges for the Java IDE. For example, new version adoption for the annually updated IDE has slumped: in 2012, 76.9% of users were using the then current release Eclipse 3.7, but in 2013, only 56% are using Eclipse 4.2. Ian Skerrett, Marketing Director at the Eclipse Foundation, believes that this is most likely "the result of the performance issues found in Eclipse 4.2". He notes in a blog post that overall satisfaction with Eclipse has dropped from last year's 90% to only 81% being satisfied or very satisfied this year. This is something Skerrett hopes will be addressed "as the Eclipse 4.x platform continues to mature," but, as it stands, it isn't very good news.

With projects like Eclipse Orion, web-based IDEs are to the fore in some developers' minds, so the survey looked to gauge perceptions of the entire sector. Nearly three quarters of respondents had no interest or needed more information to form an opinion about web IDEs, and of the remainder, 14.6% said they were interested but lacked the features of desktop IDEs, 10.7% had experimented, and only 2.6% used a web-based IDE in their normal daily coding process. For actual web development, Firefox Web Developer Tools (35.3%) and Chrome DevTools (26.2%) dominated; Eclipse's JSDT scored 22.9% closely followed by a text editor (22.2%), Vi (14.6%) and Sublime Text (7.8%). 35% of those surveyed said they didn't do HTML5 or JavaScript development.

Other trends observed by the survey were a small fallback in mobile developers targeting Android (86.8% down from 89.6%) and Apple's iOS (65.7% from 73.8%), with 67.6% of developers planning mobile apps in the next 18 months. When it came to clouds, Amazon dominated with 30.8% (down from 36%) of the developers using or planning to use it; private clouds scored 22.4% (down from 30%) and Google's AppEngine 5.3% (from 13.5%). 47% of those surveyed said they had no plans for cloud deployment.

Ant, Java's venerable build tool looks like its on the way out with a drop from 50.8% usage to 38.3% in 2013. This drop allowed Maven to take top build tool spot at 41.3%, with Jenkins close behind at 35.3%. Hudson also saw a significant drop from 20.1% to 12.7%. Subversion is still holding out as top revision control system at 37.8%, down from 46% last year, and Git is rising rapidly, now at 30.3%, up from 23.2%. Github is broken out as a separate category and gets 6% this year, giving a combined score of 36.3%, a statistical hairs-breadth between it and Subversion.

One thing still holds; Eclipse is still generally used for Java development, with 67% of respondents citing it as their primary language. C/C++ (11%), PHP (5%), and Python (4%) form the start of a long-tailed curve. Windows also still dominates the developers' desktop systems with 54% using it; 35.1% use Linux of some description (up 2.6 percentage points), while Mac OS X is down 3.3 percentage points to 8.7%.

The survey was held over April and May and took in 1070 responses of which 920 were actually completed. Coverage in the German technical press meant that well over a third of responses were from Germany. The survey had nearly 50% of responding developers with 2-10 years' experience coding, around a third working on hi-tech products with 54% working in sub-1000 employee companies and 17% working at companies with over 5000 employees. The detailed data is available in ods and xls format for those interested in parsing the figures further.



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