Another bad day for Tim Boudreau

About 2 years ago NetBeans Evangelist Tim Boudreau did a blog post that lambasted Eclipse. It was so bad, and inaccurate, that he had to take it down; must have been bad day.

It seems like Tim has had another bad day, as evident in a response to a blog post and comment on Donald Smith’s blog. Not sure why Tim feels it necessary to attack Eclipse? He is obviously very proud of NetBeans, so I appreciate the passion. Just not sure why the need to attack? Regardless, I do believe it is important to re-educate Tim on the facts about Eclipse.

First, let me say it is obvious NetBeans is an open source project; saying something to the contrary just wouldn’t make sense. Therefore I am sure Donald’s comment was in jest.

Tim seems to like to continue to spread the same FUD about Eclipse. For instance, a well used sound bite from Sun seems to be coming through with Tim’s comment:

Now contrast this with Eclipse, where project ownership goes to the highest bidder.’

This is just wrong and Tim knows better. Anyone can start a project at Eclipse; membership in the Foundation is not required and payment is not required. There are lots of examples, including Higgins, Mylar, Parallel Tools, DLTK, etc.

It also seems like Tim really doesn’t understand the true nature/power of Eclipse and open source projects that aren’t controlled by a single corporate entity. Take for instance his comment:

It’s a little bit amazing to me that this has yet to dawn on the various Eclipse distributions – that having a mission of differentiating yourself from…yourself is a monstrous waste of time.

Eclipse, Apache, Linux are all about providing a common platform that allows for value creation. I have lost track of the number of language IDEs, developer tools and general products that have been built on top of Eclipse. The key is that most of these products are not built as Eclipse projects and the large majority are not even remotely associated with IBM or the Eclipse Foundation. Tim, might call it a waste of time but it seems like a lot of people are making money doing it.

My favorite part is where Tim writes off Eclipse as a ‘ big flash in the pan’. In his post 2 years ago, I seem to remember he predicted that Eclipse would collapse in 2 years. By Tim’s prediction, Eclipse is about set to implode anytime now. However the statement ‘NetBeans was designed on the 20 year plan.’ just made me laugh; glad to hear you can think out that far.

I would also like to point out a personal pet peeve in the comment ‘The game was rigged that way from the start, and the price of lots of PR at the outset is eventual stagnation’. I can almost guarantee that Sun NetBeans marketing budget is larger than the Eclipse marketing budget. Their advertising budget alone is probably more than we spend on marketing in a year. The success of Eclipse is not based on PR but based on community and ISV adoption. As for stagnation, I leave that to the reader to decide but things like Mylar, Higgins, ATF are pretty damm cool to me.

Finally, Tim closes with a rather weird question of asking ‘Meritocracy or kleptocracy – which world would you *really* rather live in?’ I think he is insinuating Eclipse is a kleptocracy?. Gee, I wonder who is the dictator or who are the few that are benefiting from Eclipse? Makes me conclude that Tim is very misinformed about Eclipse or he is just spewing FUD. Regardless, my answer is ‘I live in a meritocracy and am I glad I work at Eclipse’.

Tim, lighten-up. Enjoy the NetBeans community, I am sure it is great. Eclipse is pretty great too.

23 thoughts on “Another bad day for Tim Boudreau

  1. Ian,

    Tim removed the offending post of two years ago and replaced it with a more interesting blog about finding object leaks. That sort of positive move should be encouraged, rather than crapped upon.

    As for the rest, I won’t comment. I’m way too busy hacking on Vista.


  2. Isn’t it kind of disingenuous to exclude ISV advertising dollars for Eclipse-based products while including the ISV products in your comparisons?

  3. Steve #1

    You are correct Tim did take the post down and he should be encouraged. At the time, I did post a follow-up at

    Steve #2

    You are absolutely correct that Eclipse gets lots of advertising from ISVs marketing Eclipse-based products. And if we added it all up, it would certainly be more than NetBeans advertising.

    The reason I didn’t include it is that the Eclipse Foundation has not direct impact or control over these $$$$. Some people like to create a perception that ‘someone’, usually IBM, is inventing substantial marketing dollars in propping up Eclipse. I do not believe this to be ture. I think a lot of companies see associating themselves with Eclipse to be beneficial to their own marketing, so you see a lot of Eclipse awareness.


  4. Well, as an ISV, doesn’t IBM in particular spend substantial marketing dollars on Eclipse-based products? So isn’t the perception — when couched in less conspiratorial terms — true?

    As examples of IBM’s interventionism, I present,1895,2013282,00.asp and,10801,108202,00.html

    As everyone knows, most news articles borrow heavily from press releases, and you can see that IBM gives Eclipse prominent positioning in its press release text.

  5. Just another bemused Emacs hacker… 😉

    At least I added the “#2” to avoid collision with your service mark — much to the detriment of my own branding efforts…

  6. Steve #2

    Now I feel really bad for messy up your service mark. I know how hard branding can be. 🙂

    You are correct again that IBM does do a lot to promote Eclipse as part of the product marketing. However, you can also see many other companies doing the same thing. No disagreement that IBM is probably the largest, but then again they are the largest at most things they do.


  7. Sure, and to the developers of a competing product, this combined marketing of various ISVs’ Eclipse-based products — all name-checking Eclipse — appears staggering. You correctly wrote: “the success of Eclipse is not based on PR but based on community and ISV adoption” — but the initial community and ISV adoption was driven heavily by PR efforts.

    Personally I expect that most IDEs, Eclipse-based or not, will later be regarded as flashes-in-the-pan. It’s not as if CASE tools are something new and untried.

    The problem with software development does not lie in the toolset, but rather with the developers. The key lies in progressing beyond waving broken femurs around in front of a monolith, to understanding the nature of things enough to create one’s own monolith.

  8. The problem in general is trusting Sun. Sun Microsystems, during the Scott McNealy days, once promised to create a Foundation for OpenOffice, but then their lawyers (also control freaks) reneged on the promise and OpenOffice never got its true Foundation. IBM is in this regard much more intelligent — they bootstrapped Eclipse correctly as it has its own independent Foundation. Why on Earth should anyone trust Sun with NetBeans? Why is Sun pushing JRuby? Can’t Ruby live on its own without the Java control freaks interfering? Why is Sun such a damned control freak of a company?

  9. IBM has really pounded the media with advertising for Eclipse. You can hardly open a Java-related resource without finding some eclipse propaganda, often a press release rewritten with a byline.

    I can think of several reasons to prefer NetBeans, but right now the big one is ease of use. I recently went to work on a moderately-large eclipse project. After struggling for hours to get the project (checked into SVN from MyEclipse) to build in the free version, and finding no useful “get up to speed on eclipse” documentation, I gave up and used the NetBeans plugin to import the project into NB and got to work. Even the guy managing the project admitted that eclipse’s handling of the project dependencies was poor. And his answer to some of my questions about configuring eclipse was, “Well, I don’t know, I use MyEclipse.” I’m tasked with writing a couple packages to integrate into the larger application, not with burning company time making eclipse function properly.

    I can be lazy about changing tools — I coded in emacs for many years before switching to NB. But if I’m going to change a tool, it is going to be because it provides me with resources greater than or superior to the ones for the current tool. For Java development, eclipse just is not that tool. Which I regard as unfortunate.



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