Like many others, I feel some sadness hearing that
is getting out of the IDE business.
It doesn’t come as a big surprise: even though JBuilder took an early
lead in the IDE space many years ago, it was never able to keep up with the
crazy innovation pace that Eclipse and IDEA imposed.
After Basic and Assembly Language (6502 all the way, baby), Pascal was the
first language I was exposed to in computer science classes, and sure enough,
our tool of choice was Turbo Pascal (and also a compiler called "pc" on our UNIX
Turbo Pascal was so amazingly fast that it baffled even our teachers.
One key press (what was it… F4?) and hundreds of line got crunched into tight
8086 code in seconds. I also remember that the screen displayed how many
lines of code per second it compiled — a nice touch that added to the speed
racing feeling of the experience. They cut a lot of corners to have such a
fast compiler (e.g. dying at the first error), but it worked beautifully and
their tool was instrumental in bootstrapping the software revolution as we know
A page is turned.
Fast forward to the present.
What does this mean to us today?
Well… not much. Borland’s decision to move to Eclipse further
validates the importance of the Eclipse platform, especially since even IDEA is
making shy moves in this direction as well, as illustrated by their
recent support for
the Eclipse compiler (imagine a world where IDEA would give you instant
feedback on compilation errors… mmmh).
Despite being the only commercial IDE left, IDEA is showing more resilience
than ever and JetBrains certainly deserves heaps of credit for being able to
sell a product in the face of such high quality free competition.
have to say I’m not optimistic on their ability (or anyone’s ability) to
maintain a business in these conditions.
I am betting that in the coming year, IDEA will move toward the Eclipse
platform more aggressively and use it as the foundation of their new efforts. This will have
the benefit of allowing the brilliant JetBrains engineers to stop worrying about
implementing the low-level layers of their platform, benefit from the fantastic
Eclipse plug-in API and finally, let them focus on what we, developers, really
care about: a top-notch programming environment using the concepts, the look and
feel and the user experience that have made IDEA the roaring success it is today.