Eclipse: too big?

I get this question every once in a while: why is Eclipse so big? Typically, the person asking the question is thinking about the SDK. Why is the Eclipse SDK (version 3.2RC4) 121MB?

It’s a good question. The name “Eclipse SDK” provides a hint: it is the Software Development Kit (SDK) for building Eclipse applications. That is, the basic download for Eclipse contains what folks building plug-ins for Eclipse need: the platform, the Java Development Tools (JDT), the Plug-in Development Environement (PDE), and the source code for it all so that you can browse and debug into all the fore-mentioned parts. The source code accounts for a huge chunk of the download size.

Now, if you’re just using Eclipse to build, test, and debug your Java applications, you can get along with a more basic installation (you don’t need the PDE or the source code). Scroll down the downloads page until you find the “Platform Runtime Binaries” section and click on the one most appropriate for your platform. For Eclipse 3.2RC4, this is 34 MB. This provides you with the base platform for using Eclipse. Unzip this into your favourite directory.

Next, you need to add Java development tools. You can either do this by downloading the “JDT Runtime Binary” from the same page, or you can use the Callisto Discovery site. If you choose the former, decompress the downloaded files into your Eclipse directory and you’re off to the races. If you choose the latter, use the update manager to pull the “Eclipse Java Development Tools” off the update site.

All tolled, it weighs in at 54 MB. Still a lot bigger than Turbo Pascal on my old Apple ][e or Smalltalk/V 286 on a 1.4 MB floppy, but it comes with a lot more features built right in (like refactoring, and code completion, and quick fix and quick assist, and CVS integration, and a real component model, and syntax highlighting, and spell checking, and Ant integration, and local history, and integrated debugging, and, and, and, and, …). Then there’s licenses and graphics and configuration files. And… don’t forget the love. Love takes space.

A few years ago, things were different. But today, I don’t even blink at the prospect of a 121MB download. And with download speeds being what they are these days, I only manage to blink about half a dozen times while it downloads…

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4 Responses to Eclipse: too big?

  1. AlBlue says:

    I got Maclipse-Lite down to a paltry 48Mb (though that was on 3.2M6, IIRC) — and that included the PDE stuff. files and help pages make up the rest. The problem is, whilst you can avoid downloading the source packages using the technique you mentioned, you can’t avoid downloading the help.I hope that I get time to work on the update manager to just download plugins instead of the current feature-oriented download, so that we’ll be able to pick ‘n’ mix at the plugin level in the future.(I also really ought to get around to updating Maclipse and Maclipse-Lite in the near future, too)

  2. Nathan says:

    I agree with you totally Wayne, with hard drives averaging 80+gigs now and lets face it 90% of eclipse users have high speed or work somewhere theres high speed, 121 megs is tiny.Get a coffee while you wait!

  3. Surya says:

    I have been using Eclipse for 1 day now. A nice breath of fresh air after having messed around with Netbeans 5.5 beta and JDeveloper. Seems to me the IDE is way faster than the above mentioned IDEs. It is a bit of a plugin hell at the moment but I am trying to get used to it. Looking forward to the final release of 3.2 and Calisto (sp?) and MyEclipse 5.0 actually. I still dont know what all these individual products do as of yet but I am working on getting myself oriented. So far I am very impressed.

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