The conference was thick with Eclipse-love, starting with multiple mentions during the keynotes on Tuesday. It was clear that everybody that was on stage assumed that everybody in the audience knew about Eclipse.
We received a steady flow of guests at our booth in the Sandbox. Most of the visitors knew about Eclipse. Well… they knew at least something about Eclipse. Most knew about Eclipse, the IDE. Ian and I took the opportunity to broaden horizons wherever we could. “Yes, Eclipse is a Java IDE. But would it surprise you to learn that Eclipse is really an integration platform? A platform for building tools? The most comprehensive set of open source modeling tools and runtimes anywhere? A runtime platform? Would it surprise you to learn that Eclipse has entered the runtime space? Heck, we have more than 200 different projects cover everything from IDEs to identity management, and object persistence” (it’s always a challenge to come up with a good pithy gamut for Eclipse).
A lot of our visitors use Eclipse to build applications with Google Web Toolkit (GWT); they came to us with both kudos and questions about the GWT Tooling. I was a little embarrassed that I have not spent any time with GWT development, but still took the time to tell them about recent efforts to provide EMF support for GWT, providing me with ample opportunity to introduce vast numbers of modeling rednecks to a brave new world.
Perhaps the lion’s share of the visitors to our humble booth use Eclipse to develop applications for Android. Again, there were kudos and questions. As is often the case with questions about Eclipse, the first challenge is to determine who is the right group to field the question. Since the Android SDK is based so heavily on Eclipse, it’s difficult to know if the Android SDK project, or the Java development tools (JDT) project, or the Eclipse Platform project, or some other source is the right place to go for help. Most of the questions were pretty solidly the domain of the Android SDK team, but the exercise highlighted the fact that finding help is still a big challenge. Frankly, I think that Eclipse Forums are an excellent place to find help; but I also quite like Stack Overflow (especially for questions that venture outside the domain of Eclipse projects). A couple of visitors asked about building Android apps with native code. Thankfully, Doug took interest in this topic some time ago, so we have an answer for this.
There were a lot of folks who just wanted to come by and bask in Eclipse greatness. I love the whole fan-boy thing. Some folks just want to say how much they love Eclipse. Others came to challenge me to show them something that they hadn’t already seen. For some, “CTRL-1″ did the the trick. For others, I pulled out Mylyn. Nobody left disappointed.
My main take away from the conference is that Eclipse is very much a part of Google’s tool strategy. My sense is that there is a lot of opportunity for other Eclipse technology; like every other audience of Eclipse technology, our task is to leverage the love of Eclipse-based IDEs into broader knowledge of Eclipse as a whole. I think we made some excellent progress on that front last week.
I also managed to take away two phones: a Nexus One and an HTC EVO (with a month of voice and data service that actually works in Canada). Both are very nice (though the EVO is a little bulky). They have inspired me to spend a little more time with the Android SDK. Let’s see what other Eclipse technology we can shove in there…