EclipseCon on Mac

Today, one of the big themes was Patterns contained in the Keynote by Tim O’Reilly titled “Open Source Business Design Patterns” and the Plenary by Erich Gamma and John Weigand titled “The Eclipse Way“.

But another big theme, at least in my opinion, was the emergence of a Mac sub-community at EclipseCon. There’s always been a sizable Linux presence it seems, but I think I could count on one hand the number of people who I saw with PowerBooks at last year’s EclipseCon. I know because I saw them in the hall using the free wireless and I talked to them to see how Eclipse was running for them. I felt comfortable that Eclipse would run well on OS X and about a month later, I bought my PowerBook.

I’ve met folks from the SWT Team/IBM, folks from Cisco, folks from BEA, folks from O’Reilly who are running Eclipse on PowerBooks. I’ve also seen other people with the familiar glowing Apple that I haven’t chatted up. A fellow from NASA mentioned that they use Eclipse on Macs (as well as Linux.) Oh and Tim O’Reilly himself uses a PowerBook. Also, Grady Booch runs Eclipse on Mac, who invented those clouds in the Booch Diagrams that preceded UML, which I fondly remember learning while earning my CS degree.

Even more interesting, I’ve noticed an increased presence by Apple to engage the Eclipse Community. This is very heartening to me and other Eclipse on Mac users, since it means greater cooperation especially between engineers, which inevitably results in a better experience for users. I’m big into user experience for folks who use the tools I develop, so I appreciate it when my own user experience is improved.

Apple posted a cool article titled “Developing Java Applications on Mac OS X with Eclipse” just yesterday. This was a nice surprise. It walks you through a Hello World app, working with a Swing app, and then creating an equivalent SWT app. Because it is based on the latest milestone release, 3.1M5a, it takes advantage of the new Run As > SWT Application menu item, which greatly improves the user experience for running an app that uses JFace/SWT.

Apple also has a booth in the exhibit hall (which also happens to be the place where you get free food and drinks.) They had a 15″ PowerBook and a PowerMac G5 with a huge(!) 30″ Cinema Display where you could try out Eclipse and see how well it performs on a Mac. So you don’t have to go around asking PowerBook users how it runs like I did at last years EclipseCon. They also have “top” (which is like Task Manager for people who are running Windows) running in the background in Terminal to remind people that OS X is built on top of UNIX, which I think helps make it a favorite among developers.

At the What’s New in SWT session by Steve Northover, he noted that there were quite a few improvements in the SWT implementation for OS X. I’d have to agree, though being the recovering perfectionist that I am, I think it could still use more improvement. But blogging is cheap. I’ll have to make sure I follow up by reporting the bugs in Bugzilla.

Later on at night, we had an Eclipse on Mac OS X BOF (Birds of a Feather.) It was a great get-together where we discussed the state of Eclipse on Mac. I think the general feeling was that things are good and getting better.

I hope we Eclipse on Mac users can continue the discussions on the Eclipse on Mac group.

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