Friday, March 7, 2008

e4 Is News To Me Too

Just read about the entire e4 debacle (thanks Doug Schaefer). I don't have a whole lot new to say other than I completely agree with Doug Gaff and Doug S on this one (see the thread on the planning council mailing list for details). The fact that that this has been done totally below the radar really irks me to put it mildly.

An interesting point for me to make though, is that those of us in IBM aren't really any more in the loop than the rest of you. Other than some vague "we're thinking of doing an Eclipse 4.0 and thinking about what that might look like" comments (which really weren't at all surprising and didn't really tell me anything that I would consider super-secret advanced knowledge), I haven't heard diddly about any of this e4 stuff. I'm just as blindsided as the rest of you, and I actually interact with folks on the platform occasionally. I have no more clue about e4 than what was in the component announcement.

For the record, the people on the platform are good people (some of them are even my friends). They certainly don't mean ill to anyone, and that certainly includes the Eclipse community. They do not sit in their Evil Eclipse Platform Lair, wringing their hands and cackling maniacally while they try to figure out the next way to thwart openness and diversity. They want to be open and diverse, they really do. Some of them really try very hard to be, and some of them are doing a good job of it (kudos to the platform debug team particularly!).

But, I have to be critical here. A lot of them just don't seem to get it when it comes to this whole open/transparent/diverse thing. I think it's good that a call for participation is being made now, but with all due respect, this shouldn't be the first time we're hearing about all this. What is this e4 thing? Where were the discussions that led up to this? Who participated? What requirements went into it? How were requirements solicited? Did you do a requirements doc? A design doc? Were those documents reviewed with community? Any meetings? Conference calls? Could people join those calls? Where are the minutes? These are all things I've ranted about on this blog before, but I haven't seen a whole lot of progress.

The perception is that once again the IBM skunkworks went off and did its thing, their reasons known only to themselves, and are now just presenting us e4 as a fait accompli. I don't believe that to actually be true, and I very much believe that they're open to participation going forward. And to be honest, I'm going to make a bit of a leap of faith here and assume that whatever e4 is, it's not going to annihilate our Eclipse universe as we know it and doom us all. They platform people are very smart, and they value the community greatly.

However, people need to take some ownership here and acknowledge that there is a PROBLEM. The entire process that led us up to this point was closed. THAT is the problem that we need to solve. Until the Platform starts opening up their process, the Platform will never truly be open. And that's a problem for all of us, whether you work for Big Blue or not. The lack of openness hurts people in IBM like me just as much as the rest of you.

At any rate, I hope the powers that be use this as a learning experience.


Doug Gaff said...

Nicely put! Hey, where do I get an "Evil Eclipse Platform Lair". That sounds awesome!

And a big +1 to the platform debug team for being excellent to work with.

Doug Schaefer said...

Well said, thanks Chris. I know the platform people are good people. But as much as they try, they also have no clue how to really work in the open. Nothing about this announcement shows that this is about to change.

Kevin McGuire said...

A good post Chris thanks. I think there are a lot of assumptions being made about the degree of "bakedness" that the proposal entails. Their reasonable assumptions based on the past but they're incorrect. Many of the things you listed around requirements, proposals etc, are exactly the things we're expecting to have happen. What's been put together is a proposed high level vision, to be discussed at EclipseCon where the community is gathering. There's some demo code that will go with that. What form all of that will take in the end is a mystery to us, for exactly the reasons that we want this to go where the community feels it needs to.

Ken Ryall said...

Well said. The platform debug team is the only one to show up to a CDT or DSDP meeting to work on understanding problems and requirements. They get that we're customers, partners, and consumers of their core technology, not just interested bystanders. The rest need to look at the openness and inclusiveness of the CDT and DSDP projects as a model.