Eclipse IDE Study Shows that Standards and Community Work
November 12, 2007 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The Eclipse Foundation, which was set up a number of years ago by IBM to create an alternative to Sun Microsystems‘ NetBeans project to create an open source integrated development environment (IDE) for programming tools, has just completed a survey in conjunction with IDC of its base to see who is deploying Eclipse, how they are using it, and how they participate in the community.
Approximately 2.3 million programmers worldwide use a development tool that is based on the Eclipse framework, which allows elements of programming tools to be snapped into the IDE and therefore enables a certain amount of standardization across a wide swath of programming tools. In early 2006, when a similar study was performed, approximately 65 percent of the 4.5 million Java programmers worldwide were using an Eclipse IDE of one sort or another.
Matt Lawton, director of open source software business strategies at IDC, put together a 92-page report for the Eclipse Foundation based on the results of the survey, which you can read here. According to the survey, the average Eclipse user is developing on two different platforms and deploying the resulting applications on 2.7 server or sometimes desktop platforms. Some 74 percent of the organizations polled by IDC use their Eclipse IDEs on Windows boxes, with Linux machines being used by 20 percent of programmers. As applications are deployed on platforms, Linux has a slightly larger share, representing 37 percent of application deployment platforms compared to 47 percent on Windows. The fact that programmers responding to the survey say they are creating applications for server platforms, rather than desktops, using Eclipse IDEs, suggests that Linux is even more popular on server platforms than the broader number cited by IDC suggests since Windows rules the desktop. This backs up recent survey data from Evans Data that suggests companies code on Windows but are increasingly deploying on Linux.
If you drill down into the study (see page 59), you will see a breakdown of primary application deployment platforms by operating system. Windows (on the client or the server) has a 46.5 percent share of platforms, compared to 36.6 percent for Linux. IBM’s z/OS mainframe is the deployment platform for Eclipse users in only 0.2 percent of the time, and i5/OS and OS/400 only rated 0.6 percent. Apple Computer‘s Mac OS X operating system was cited by 1 percent and Hewlett-Packard‘s HP-UX did a little better with 1.2 percent, but fell well short of the 8.3 percent for Sun Microsystems’ Solaris. IBM’s AIX Unix was cited by 3.2 percent of respondents as their primary deployment platform. The percentages for server deployment environments were diminished because IDC mixed server and desktop deployment data in the survey report–and that makes me wonder what they were hiding. My guess is that Windows clients are a big part of the deployment platform data, which means all of these server platforms are doing better than these numbers suggest.
Eclipse IDEs are not, generally speaking, something that people use for non-commercial uses, so it is no surprise that 91 percent of those surveyed say they are using Eclipse tools because they do so at their employers or are self-employed as they write code. About 71 percent of those programmers responding to the IDC survey say they work in the IT industry itself–at hardware and software suppliers, systems integrators, value-added resellers, and so forth–and only 29 percent work for end user companies outside of the IT sector. This reflects the general trend away from homegrown applications to third-party code for running businesses. Still, obviously plenty of companies seem to be writing their own code, if this Eclipse survey is any indication.
Among the Eclipse tools in the open source IDE, the top five tools used from the set are Java Development Tools (88 percent of respondents), Web Tools Project (54 percent), Web Tools Project (44 percent), Rich Client Platform (42 percent), and Eclipse Modeling Framework (37 percent).
The Eclipse study is based on an online poll created by IDC and running on the Eclipse Web site; 1,014 people responded to the study, which ran in August and September. Over half of the respondents have been using Eclipse for over three years, and over half of those who have been using it for that long participate in the development of the open source Eclipse tools themselves. And perhaps more importantly, 81 percent of those who contribute say that what they do matters and gets respect.