Life at Eclipse

Musings on the Eclipse Foundation, the community and the ecosystem

Juno Performance

There has been a lot of conversation this past week about the state of Juno’s performance on the new Eclipse 4.2 platform. The original thread was kicked off by Thomas Hallgren, there’s been a flurry of comments on bug 385272, and a nice summary of the concerns in Andrey Loskutov’s blog.

I think it is apparent there are a lot of very valid concerns that will need to be addressed, and we as a community will need to pool our resources to ensure we succeed. However, there are two issues I’d like to address: 1) moving to a major new release is always hard, and 2) we need the community to help solve the problem.

Moving to a new major release

For a little historical perspective, anyone who was around when Eclipse 3.0 shipped in 2004 can likely tell you that moving to a major new release is never ever easy. It is absolutely impossible to do a major rewrite of a platform used by millions without pissing somebody off. Nor is it possible to achieve perfection the first time around. That is not said to dismiss any of the concerns that have been raised. We need to have the feedback, bugs and patches to move things forward. However, we do need to move forward.

My personal summary of where we’re at is that Juno is on 4.2, and it’s far too late to talk about switching the release train back to 3.8. Kepler is going to be based on 4.3. There will never be an Eclipse 3.9. Those decisions were made quite some time ago by the Eclipse PMC and the Planning Council, after long discussions about the pros and cons. That’s where we’re at. So if you want to help move Eclipse forward, please focus your energy on providing input, feedback, patches and tests on the Eclipse 4.x stream because that is unequivocally our future.

Significant community help is required

The performance test were turned off because the Eclipse platform team has a serious resource issue. The simple fact of the matter is that the Eclipse platform team is stretched well beyond what it can reasonably be expected to accomplish. This is not a new problem. It has been discussed in many forums for at least the past three or four years. Unfortunately, very few people or organizations have stepped up to make significant contributions. Perhaps this will serve as a catalyst for people to step forward to contribute more to the needs of the platform. Let me stress how important it is for this to happen.

There have already been a couple of very positive developments that have come out of this conversation. Google has stepped up and donated $20,000 towards the creation of a brand-new testing infrastructure for eclipse.org. A few people and companies have quietly approached us about where they can best put their resources to help. The entire staff of the Eclipse Foundation is going to pitch in to help resolve these issues as much as we can. However, there are thousands of companies and millions of developers that make use of Eclipse every day. We need more of these companies to come forward to start participating in the core Eclipse platform. Google’s contribution is a perfect example.

The Eclipse 4 platform has a large number of important new features and capabilities which are going to allow us to do many more cool things in the future. The Eclipse platform team has done a great job bringing it this far. It is not perfect and we have the SR1 release coming up in a couple of weeks that will address some known performance degradations and memory leaks. I expect we will continue to see more improvements in SR2 and Kepler. The critical issue is that the entire community needs to be part of the solution. Now is the time to step forward and give back to the Eclipse project that started it all.

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Written by Mike Milinkovich

September 10, 2012 at 3:00 am

Posted in Foundation

30 Responses

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  1. [...] Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse’s executive director, explained in a blog post: The performance tests were turned off because the Eclipse platform team has a serious resource issue. The simple fact of the matter is that the Eclipse platform team is stretched well beyond what it can reasonably be expected to accomplish. This is not a new problem.  There have already been a couple of very positive developments that have come out of this conversation. Google has stepped up and donated $20,000 towards the creation of a brand-new testing infrastructure. [...]

  2. [...] Dans le même billet de blog, il revient sur la polémique liée aux performances du logiciel. « Il est beaucoup trop tard pour parler de revenir à la version 3.8. (…) Il n’y aura jamais d’Eclipse 3.9. Ces décisions ont été prises il y a relativement longtemps par le comité de gestion du projet et par le conseil de planification, après de longues discussions sur le pour et le contre. Nous en sommes là. » [...]

  3. [...] “The performance tests were turned off because the Eclipse platform team has a serious resource issue. The simple fact of the matter is that the Eclipse platform team is stretched well beyond what it can reasonably be expected to accomplish. This is not a new problem,” the foundation’s executive director Mike Milinkovich said in a blog post. [...]

  4. Seems to me that the foundation should be doing more to address the platform team resource scarcity, more than just insisting that community help is needed. Yes, that is necessary, but it is not sufficient. Eclipse is taking it on the chin because of the decision to migrate to an immature platform; the foundation and its Strategic Members should, IMO, be hyper-focused on taking *direct* measures to repair any damage done to the stellar reputation Eclipse has earned, and asking and pleading simply do no cut it.

    I know that plenty of ideas have been tossed around in the past (radical things such as requiring strategic members to honor commitments of dedicated people for Platform/Runtime, directly hiring developers, etc) and most have been rejected for one reason on another. I suggest that all ideas be re-considered in light of the *current* situation. Yes it’s a difficult leadership position to be in; re-considering previously rejected or inappropriate ideas after a time of transition and/or difficulty is one sign of good leadership and management, IMO.

    Eric Rizzo

    September 10, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    • Eric, certainly all of those topics are being discussed again.

      Historically, it has not been the role of the Eclipse Foundation to lead development. We simply do not have the resources or the skills on staff today to instantaneously jump from uninvolved to leading. So whatever impact this may or may not have on the role of the Foundation, it will take some time to figure out.

      Mike Milinkovich

      September 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm

  5. [...] “The performance tests were turned off because the Eclipse platform team has a serious resource issue. The simple fact of the matter is that the Eclipse platform team is stretched well beyond what it can reasonably be expected to accomplish. This is not a new problem,” the foundation’s executive director Mike Milinkovich said in a blog post. [...]

  6. I think if the 3.9 is not an option, at least two major points can be considered:

    1) Allow people to have a real choice for 3.8.1/4.2.1 – do not hide the 3.8 build and provide on the the same download page packages for both 3.8 and 4.2 builds (e.g. Eclipse Classic 3.8, Eclipse for C++, Eclipse for Java EE, Eclipse Modeling Tools etc). I guess this is just matter of some extra build steps, webmaster time to setup extra mirrors etc. Communicate that decision to people. Publicly confirm the issues with 4.2 quality and better explain the decision finding process for 4.x vs 3.x. Give people *a chance* to choose. Many developers simply don’t know that Eclipse 3.8 exists at all, and that 3.8 is *the* Juno release they expected, not that 4.x beta IDE.

    2) Seriously rethink how we can change the Eclipse foundation or the way we work to acquire resources. We need to get serious (members) company investment for the 4.3+ *platform* development. The community can’t maintain core Eclipse parts – it can help, but it can’t drive. This is a really big mistake to assume that (external) developers can do the platform maintenance in their free time. I can’t hear “please contribute” appeals anymore. We do it already, as good as we can. Nobody can seriously do Eclipse platform development *after* the main job, it must be *the* main job. For sure we need bigger platform team, especially if we are talking about such a big and important platform with millions lines of code and thousands of dependent projects.

    We should look how other open source projects are working, which models they have to attract companies to *invest people* and if we can adopt some of the ideas. Linux kernel, Mozilla, Libre Office? Run meeting series with really *big* companies – Google, Oracle, IBM, SAP, Intel, Bosch… I can’t believe they can’t see and understand the problem, as sooner or later they developers would need to use either 4.x stream code base and/or 4.x based IDE. Better ask them for an urgent help now then later, especially if we know that resource problem is the old one. It is a question of the life or death for Eclipse. If Eclipse can’t solve the core platform development problem, Eclipse as IDE will be meaningless in few years, replaced either by Netbeans or by IntelliJ IDEA or some newcomer based on a cleaner and smaller platform without legacy burden. Think about that history always repeats. Where is JBuilder, JDeveloper, Visual Café, Sun One Studio etc? Eclipse shouldn’t follow they path.

    Andrey Loskutov

    September 10, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    • Andrey,

      Re: #1: We are already into the end game of SR1, so regrettably I don’t see your suggestion as realistic. Furthermore, those decisions are made by the Eclipse PMC and the Planning Council, not the Eclipse Foundation.

      Re: #2: I believe that this conversation is forcing everyone to re-think prior assumptions. It’s pretty clear that the status quo isn’t really working. And it is definitely true that past achievements are no guarantee of future success. Believe me, absolutely no one is being complacent.

      A crisis is too good to waste. But it is going to take some time to fix this. Getting significant and on-going contributions out of large companies is not easy, especially in the current economic climate. But I would also add that there are a lot of smaller companies in the Eclipse ecosystem that ship products based on Eclipse. It would be nice to see some of them step up as well. There are a lot of individuals that have the skills to help also. I think it would be a mistake to think of this as something that should only be solved by companies, especially big companies.

      Mike Milinkovich

      September 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm

  7. [...] “The performance tests were turned off because the Eclipse platform team has a serious resource issue. The simple fact of the matter is that the Eclipse platform team is stretched well beyond what it can reasonably be expected to accomplish. This is not a new problem,” the foundation’s executive director Mike Milinkovich said in a blog post. [...]

  8. Hi Mike,

    I agree with all your post.
    I also think that maybe the foundation does not make clear enough what kind of help it requires. Is there a page called “How To Support Eclipse” existing which lists which kind of help Eclipse Foundation (and community) is looking for? Maybe if this kind of page was existing a few monthes ago and stated “Issue: no more performance testing for platform. Solution: we need more hardware for performance testing” and other items Foundation would like help for, companies could go to that page and see what are the issues, and depending on their priorities, provide the help on task that seem critical for them.

    Mickael Istria

    September 11, 2012 at 6:10 am

    • Mickael,

      Some sort of help wanted page would certainly be a good idea. But it would assume that the EMO actually knows where help is needed. We are often the last to know.

      As a slightly different approach, I have long wished that every project at Eclipse (including the platform!) wrote and promoted its own “How to Contribute” page. Such a page could include how to build their project, how to contribute, what they want to see from any prospective committer, and where they particularly need help.

      Mike Milinkovich

      September 11, 2012 at 6:22 am

  9. Mike, great post and thanks for pushing this conversation forward.

    One of the problems that we keep hearing is that it’s not clear who controls development and what responsibility they have to others. *I know* that Eclipse (project) development is done by the Eclipse committers with direction from the Eclipse PMC, and if anybody wants to effect change they need to ‘step-up’. However, many people feel they do ‘step-up’. Sometimes by providing patches for things they want implemented (which occasionally don’t align with the goals of the project and are not accepted). Others contribute significant resources to downstream projects (WTP, Modeling, etc…).

    In these cases, the contributors did step-up, and the decisions of the platform team are affecting them. I’m not sure that asking them to ‘step-up’ some more is the right answer.

    This isn’t the first time we’ve gone through this. When Eclipse first moved to p2 there was a pretty big outcry. Of course, I’d like to think that we’re better off, but I’m sure some people don’t feel that way. Are those who made the decision to switch Eclipse to p2 responsible to the community indefinitely, or must the community embrace these decisions and now help out (since some of those original decision makers have moved on).

    There was a similar distaste (albeit much smaller) with the decision to move to Git. Some members of the community felt that the Git tooling wasn’t on par with the CVS tooling. Are those who pushed for the change required to provide adequate tooling? (I’m talking about the state of Git tooling last year, it’s much, much better now).

    Over time, both the p2 and Git decisions have appeared to pay-off. But there is certainly some segment of the community that was inconvenienced by these decisions. I’m not sure it’s fair to tell these people (who are often working very hard for the betterment of Eclipse as a whole) that they need to ‘step-up’. After all, before these decisions were made, they were happy.

    So the question is, what responsibilities do the ‘decision makers’ have to the rest of the community? There were clearly a lot of people who initiated the push for Eclipse 4 (look at the number of e4 committers we had before the big purge). Unfortunately, when push came to shove, many of those people simply disappeared (or were not interested anymore). Should committers (or more likely organizations) be held accountable for the decisions they make, especially when they don’t follow through with the resource allocation to complete those projects? Should contributors who provide a patch be responsible for all ill-effects that contribution may cause? Or, should the community be thankful for the work that was done, but realize that working on a downstream component is not ‘stepping-up’. If you depend on something, you must actively help out or stay out of the way?

    Sorry, more questions, no answers ;-).

    Ian Bull

    September 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    • “What responsibilities do the ‘decision makers’ have to the rest of the community?”

      At the risk of sounding glib, their responsibilities are to do the best they can with the resources they’ve got. Which, IMHO they’ve actually done. Everyone I know in the Eclipse community leadership group takes this responsibility very seriously.

      I don’t think *anyone* is happy with where we’re at. But that doesn’t mean that the ‘decision makers’ have failed the community. It means that they’ve had to make some tough decisions.

      Mike Milinkovich

      September 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm

      • Dragging Juno to the trash and reinstalling Indigo wasn’t a tough decision at all. It was necessary in order to get any work done. If even I can see that Juno is not ready for prime time, why can’t the decision makers?

        dennis deems

        December 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm

  10. I think that a shortage of resources is not a valid argument. A shortage of resources does not mean that essential work can be skipped. This is a matter of software craftsmenship. Shortage of resources only means that the work progresses more slowly or that certain features are dropped. The whole thing does seem familiar here, having worked at various companies, where project deadlines and features take precedence over non-functionals.

    Personally, I can say that while developing in Java EE, I really only need the Java view and have upgraded eclipse only in the hope of getting better performance. In this respect, Indigo and Helios were great, but Juno really failed to meet expectations. I have just gone back to Helios because Juno was unworkable. For me, eclipse has already had more than sufficient functionality for years and the latest hot stuff (e.g. maven and git integration), I can always get from plugins. I have talked about this with various other developers and I think it is true that, for most developers, the non-functionals are far more important than new features.

    In any case, I sympathize with the eclipse developers, who are doing a lot of good work, and who have most likely made this clear to the decision makers already.

    Erik Brakkee

    September 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm

  11. May be stupid, but how about Eclipse Lite. It worked verry good for Firefox.

    Less

    September 29, 2012 at 7:15 am

  12. [...] for the performance issues, it would seem that I am not alone, and that things aren’t likely to improve [...]

  13. When I tested out 4.2 I quickly found bugs in fairly basic bits of functionality: http://mchr3k-coding.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/eclipse-42-juno-bugs.html. It’s definitely worth raising bug reports as 4.x is the future and it needs to be fixed.

    However, for now I have reverted to 3.8.

    mchr3k

    October 4, 2012 at 10:36 am

  14. There is definately a great deal to know about this topic. I like all of the points you made.

    Best Buy Items and Gifts

    December 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm

  15. You’ve made some good points there. I checked on the net to learn more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.

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    December 2, 2012 at 8:58 pm

  16. As far as the performance issues are concerned we’ve taken the unprecedented step of releasing an interim update for this..

    http://download.eclipse.org/eclipse/updates/4.2

    This site presumes that you’re using it from 4.2SR1

    Thanks,
    Eric Moffatt – Eclipse 4 Dev Lead

    Eric Moffatt

    December 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm

  17. I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I came across this in my search for something regarding this.

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    December 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm

  18. Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a top notch article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and don’t seem to get anything done.

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    January 10, 2013 at 9:49 am

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  22. The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, however I actually thought you’d have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could fix if you weren’t too busy seeking attention.

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  23. [...] A slightly apologetic post from Mike Milinkovich, Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation triggered by Juno performance issues, on future releases etc is here. [...]

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