But now we know: OK, e4 is a place to showcase the experimental code and grow ideas about the Eclipse 4.0 platform, not some coup d'etat. OK, the perception is not reality, just unfortunate communication. OK, the platform team wants to solicit feedback from the community. OK, so you would rather show it in code than in colorful diagrams (given the audience, that makes sense).
My day job is in software architecture, and not in Eclipse at all (which makes me a very small fish indeed). However, it also gives me a different perspective in which to view this controversy: It's the architecture, stupid. The future of the Eclipse platform is not just about the code, it's also the scope, the requirements, the stakeholders, the constraints, the APIs, the process, the resources, and it's the dependencies and dependents of the very heart of Eclipse. In that respect, we still don't know anything about e4.
Eclipse is built on a strong architecture, and architecture is all about keeping the stakeholders happy, but it looks as if there's still serious uncertainty with a number of stakeholders:
- What is being worked on here? Are we talking runtime / SWT / RCP - stuff? Is this about the "IDE meat", where a lot of the identified "biggest architectural problems" reside)?
- Why is this going on? Or, which requirements or innovations are going to be driving the effort? Why is this more important than anything else?
- When is all this going to happen? (should we expect a 3.5 in 2009?)
- How are you planning to do this without creating adverse effects for stakeholders?
- Where will the impact be - will this be a distributed effort? Where will the parts which currently make up the Eclipse Platform end up (in case of a refactoring effort)?
- Who gets to decide and prioritize? And implement?
For humans, a common reaction to change and uncertainty about is to expect the worst, especially if you feel like you are out of the loop. OK, we know now that part of e4 is to find the answers to the questions above, except perhaps the first "who" which I would expect should be the architectural council (whose mailing list is just buzzing with e4 activity right now). There are processes in place to mend this.
But shouldn't we always start with the "why" rather that the "how"?