Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Eclipse FUD: eWeek has no shame

Just when you thought the IDE wars were over, irresponsible reporting fans the flames. How can the editors of eWeek even consider this article to be worthy of publishing? At best, the author Daryll Taft has absolutely no clue about the topic he is reporting on. At worst, it is pure FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). Here's why:

1) The article doesn't even link to the survey it quotes, which is a red flag in my opinion. You have to ask yourself, Why? Does the author want to make it difficult for readers to check his sources? Here's the link to the survey so you can see it for yourself (and participate if you like):

2) The article correctly reports that the survey in question is 'grassroots', or a 'straw poll', which basically means it's unscientific. I can handle that; sometimes informal polls can still give an interesting picture of general opinion. However, the author fails to mention that at the time he took the numbers from the poll, there were only about 350 respondants, even though the poll has been running since June. For an internet poll, that number is really tiny and easily skewed.

3) Likewise, the author fails to mention that the poll options didn't even include some of the more popular IDEs in use today. There were only a small smattering of options, not at all representative of the real marketplace. The only recognizable IDEs listed were: Eclipse, NetBeans, Visual Studio, Dreamweaver, and Zend Studio. I had to add my favourite, IntelliJ IDEA (quite popular in the Java world), myself! And this poll has been running since June!!! I'm sure fans of other IDEs (a good example being JDeveloper) will shortly add their options too.

4) The author goes on to give a heavily one-sided 'analysis' of Eclipse's position in the market, heavily quoting Mike Milinkovich, and NO ONE ELSE. As such, Milinkovich's snipes at Sun go virtually unanswered. Particularly sinister are the veiled accusations (that a smiley does not excuse) that Sun might 'astroturf' the survey, casting unjustifiable suspicion on Sun's ethics. We should question eWeek's ethics for posting this article in the first place. Does Mike have your marionette strings, Daryll? This kind of yellow journalism is unacceptable. How about taking some responsibility, please?

This article is not news, and does not belong in the news section of a supposedly reputable news source. eWeek should be ashamed.

Yes, Eclipse probably does dominate the IDE market in terms of popularity, and I have no problem with that fact being reported far and wide, as long as it is reported fairly and open-mindedly, based on reputable sources. And you know what? The IDE popularity war is long over. Been there, done that. The much more interesting story is that there is a lot of really cool innovation still going on in the IDE market. Friendly competition is the new thing driving the industry. Real innovation is interesting. Flakey posturing is boring.

(Full disclosure: I am currently employed at JetBrains, makers of IntelliJ IDEA, which competes with Eclipse. This post is not a diss on Eclipse, it's a diss on eWeek.)