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Open-source Natural Selection

The Eclipse project ecosystem is an interesting place… it’s like a large playground with monkey bars, tether ball and swing sets. This playground is also full of diverse participants. However, what happens when two children in this playground fight? For example, two children both want to play in the same sandbox but there’s only room for one due to their egos or some political reasons. Does one kid push the other out of the sandbox, do both go blind by kicking sand in each others eyes or do they just happily play together?

I bring this issue up (and cheesy metaphor) because we will have another case of this type of competition soon within the Eclipse project ecosystem… and I just wanted to hear people’s opinions.

In the past, we had this happen with two Subversion projects (Subclipse and Subversive)… one was left standing… and in the end, were we better off with this type of competition? Did the community win or lose on this one? You decide 🙂

Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of natural selection and Darwinian evolution:

I say, let open-source projects figure things out as long as they don’t kick sand in the eyes of people living outside their sandbox. In the end, the better project should win or the competing projects will find a way to work together.

  • Earl Hofert

    I don’t believe in evolution… or gravity.

  • Earl Hofert

    I don’t believe in evolution… or gravity.

  • Dann Martens

    I have mixed feelings about this idea as the Open Source Movement is equally engaged in a Survival of the Fittest, pitched against other predator movements.
    A lot of OSS projects are craving for resources and the Eclipse Project is no exception.
    It is a bit disappointing to see how many tribes there already are out there, each fragmenting the landscape into less viable islands.
    Often overlooked, competition does not automatically lead to improvement, it leads to extinction as well. Given adverse circumstances, all parties involved run the risk of perishing.
    The effort to support Subversion in the Eclipse IDE seems to lack the critical momentum to overcome all hurdles it is facing at the moment. Would it be naive to assume that both strengths combined could be more succesful?

  • Dann Martens

    I have mixed feelings about this idea as the Open Source Movement is equally engaged in a Survival of the Fittest, pitched against other predator movements.A lot of OSS projects are craving for resources and the Eclipse Project is no exception. It is a bit disappointing to see how many tribes there already are out there, each fragmenting the landscape into less viable islands.Often overlooked, competition does not automatically lead to improvement, it leads to extinction as well. Given adverse circumstances, all parties involved run the risk of perishing.The effort to support Subversion in the Eclipse IDE seems to lack the critical momentum to overcome all hurdles it is facing at the moment. Would it be naive to assume that both strengths combined could be more succesful?

  • villane

    I’d argue with the one was left standing bit. Sure, Subversive became an Eclipse project, but a lot of people still use Subclipse and it’s actually easier to install (no licensing issues).

    Frankly, I have always been a little baffled by how easily licensing problems are dumped on the end users by some projects, leaving them to figure out where and how to get the 3rd party jars needed to get the product working.

    Hmm… perhaps there should be an o3 or “out-of-orbit” project 🙂 that would develop the plumbing and UI for more automatic installation of third party jars and bundles.

  • villane

    I’d argue with the one was left standing bit. Sure, Subversive became an Eclipse project, but a lot of people still use Subclipse and it’s actually easier to install (no licensing issues).Frankly, I have always been a little baffled by how easily licensing problems are dumped on the end users by some projects, leaving them to figure out where and how to get the 3rd party jars needed to get the product working.Hmm… perhaps there should be an o3 or “out-of-orbit” project 🙂 that would develop the plumbing and UI for more automatic installation of third party jars and bundles.

  • Ed Zwart

    Isn’t interoperability and openness the whole point of the Eclipse world, and the reason for its success (such as it is)? And anyways, how would you legislate away this kind of competition?

    I would like to see some (fair) top-level view of the landscape though. For example, I had been using PHPEclipse for some time when PDT came along as an official Eclipse project. I think project’s like PDT (or Subversive) should be required to point the way clearly towards either interoperability or transition, treating their “competitors” in that feel-good open way.

    This can smooth out the top-down heavy handedness of centralizing a project as an official Eclipse project and leave the door open for developers and users from the competing project to influence its direction.

  • Ed Zwart

    Isn’t interoperability and openness the whole point of the Eclipse world, and the reason for its success (such as it is)? And anyways, how would you legislate away this kind of competition?I would like to see some (fair) top-level view of the landscape though. For example, I had been using PHPEclipse for some time when PDT came along as an official Eclipse project. I think project’s like PDT (or Subversive) should be required to point the way clearly towards either interoperability or transition, treating their “competitors” in that feel-good open way.This can smooth out the top-down heavy handedness of centralizing a project as an official Eclipse project and leave the door open for developers and users from the competing project to influence its direction.

  • Chris Aniszczyk (zx)

    It’s not up to Eclipse to legislate this type of competition… anyone can start an Eclipse project… it’s open this way.

    Since Eclipse has a very active commercial ecosystem… imagine two companies that represented say the data tooling space. Company A started a project at Eclipse… this forces Company B to either work together, start a competing project e or ignore it. This type of competition dominates the business world… companies compete in similar domains… doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it.

    I think competition in the end is good for consumers… there may be some bumps in the road.

  • Chris Aniszczyk (zx)

    It’s not up to Eclipse to legislate this type of competition… anyone can start an Eclipse project… it’s open this way.Since Eclipse has a very active commercial ecosystem… imagine two companies that represented say the data tooling space. Company A started a project at Eclipse… this forces Company B to either work together, start a competing project e or ignore it. This type of competition dominates the business world… companies compete in similar domains… doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it.I think competition in the end is good for consumers… there may be some bumps in the road.

  • Ed Zwart

    I think competition is absolutely good for consumers!

    I’ll happily change “required” to “encouraged” to avoid rigidity, but you see my point, no?

    If there’s goodwill to be gained between PDT and PHPEclipse, shouldn’t it be PDT’s role to generate it? (whether that’s legislated or not)

    Or am I trying to have it both ways? If we say the competition is a good thing (and I strongly agree it is), we cannot have ANY kind of practice that facilitates cooperation between the competitors?

  • Ed Zwart

    I think competition is absolutely good for consumers! I’ll happily change “required” to “encouraged” to avoid rigidity, but you see my point, no?If there’s goodwill to be gained between PDT and PHPEclipse, shouldn’t it be PDT’s role to generate it? (whether that’s legislated or not)Or am I trying to have it both ways? If we say the competition is a good thing (and I strongly agree it is), we cannot have ANY kind of practice that facilitates cooperation between the competitors?

  • Abel Muiño

    In the commercial world, so often the survival of the fittest game is played at a level where the definition of “fittest” is blurred.

    Lets say… Pepsi vs a fictional New Cola compete for being Eclipse official drinks.

    Which one is “fittest”?

    It probably won’t come down to the healthier, the tastier or any other feature of each beverage.

    Chances are that it will be a matter of which PR department can make better ads, has nicer slides or (specially) has been showing its brand longer.

  • Abel Muiño

    In the commercial world, so often the survival of the fittest game is played at a level where the definition of “fittest” is blurred.Lets say… Pepsi vs a fictional New Cola compete for being Eclipse official drinks.Which one is “fittest”? It probably won’t come down to the healthier, the tastier or any other feature of each beverage. Chances are that it will be a matter of which PR department can make better ads, has nicer slides or (specially) has been showing its brand longer.