I came across this blog posting a few days ago. The date on the posting is recent, but the content makes me believe that it’s a repost of something considerably older. If you look carefully at the text and images, it’s pretty clear that the author is talking about Eclipse 2.0.
He makes some good points, so I thought that I’d revisit them over the next few days and see if anything has changed.
The first reason is “Eclipse is Free”. To quote the original post [sic]:
#1 – Eclipse is Free
Eclipse is free software: access and use of the Eclipse code are controlled by the Common Public License, an open-source license which allows individuals to create derivative works with worldwide re-distribution rights that are royalty free. The license has been approved by the Open Source Initiative, and can be summarized as: grab it, hack it, give it away – or resell it. IBM, the backer of the Eclipse project, has to be lauded for this forward-thinking initiative.
Eclipse is also free in another sense of the word: it carries a zero price tag. Certainely a compelling feature in today’s economy! How much money would you save but dropping that expensive IDE that requires a license per seat? Some are going as far as dropping graphical IDEs entirely; they went back to a pure command-line environment, and are proud of it. Emacs/vi and the Unix shell have great strengths, not the least their simplicity. But when facing the latest advances in IDE technology, as featured by Eclipse in particular, I couldn’t help but feel those legacy tools have been left in the dust.
At least one thing as changed: Eclipse is no longer distributed under the CPL, but is instead distributed under the Eclipse Public Licence (EPL). The two are basically same save for a single line. This is discussed here.
The author is clearly impressed by the price tag. As an individual, free is my favourite price. However, I don’t think that Eclipse is ubiquitous because it is free: everybody loves Eclipse because it is great. Eclipse changed the way that most people think about software development, tools, and platforms.
It has been said that with open source you trade time for money. This is certainly true with Eclipse; there are many stories of adopters spending time collecting the right set of plug-ins and getting their environments “just so”. But with Eclipse, you actually have a choice. You can spend money or time. If you want to go the free route, you have that option. Or, you can turn to the vast Eclipse eco-system and spend money getting just the right environment. See Eclipse Plug-in Central.
So my bottom line is that—while it’s true that Eclipse is free and free is a powerful motivator—Eclipse is popular because it’s a kick butt development environment, framework, platform, community, and eco-system that scares the crap out of Chuck Norris.