At first glance, this blog entry by Alex Blewitt at the EclipseZone in response to this blog entry made by Brian Pontarelli, is no more than just a continuation of the age old "which IDE is better" discussion. However the series of blog entries and responses brings out a new interesting question that has broader implications. In his blog Brian states that IntelliJ will always win because;
They [IntelliJ] actually fix bugs. You buy the product and report a bug, they take it seriously, even if it is something somewhat minor
Brian blog entry is most likely prompted by the 20 hour response that he witness to his bug report. He compares this response to the response that he got to his filing of an Eclipse bug four years ago. That bug still is not fixed. The blog goes on to laud the IntelliJ team for their ability to quickly back port bug fixes into previous versions of the product. In response Alex writes that the Eclipse community is quite diverse and some projects take longer to respond to bugs than others. He also recognized that there is an emphasis on new features but also pointed out that there is a strong commitment to fixing bugs. In one of the more interesting responses, Ricky Clarkson, commented;
In theory at least, I do like open source stuff, but I feel that customers don't come first. Yes, that's right, there are no customers
He lists the open source project GNOME, Debian and GIMP as all having usability problems that can be traced to people rather than technology.
The GIMP still has the outdated right-click-to-do-everything model. Mozilla used to have a similar problem with its treatment of downloadable .exe files - that's fixed now
In turning to Eclipse, Ricky states that Eclipse is too complex to simply go in and fix bugs. Ricky then makes a suggestion for an interesting feature which would allow developers to fix Eclipse bugs as the encounter them.
Where's the View Source button? I'm in a dialog, and I notice some of the buttons are below the edge of the non-resizeable window. Why can't I press some magic key combination, edit the source for that dialog, and then click a button to submit my change as a patch?
Although this series of blog entries and responses is prompted from a single data point, Brian, it does raise important issues. The question is; is Brian’s experience typical for users of open source products? And is there merit to Ricky’s point that we can’t expect users to be able to debug and fix complex applications. Finally, do you have any suggestions as to how source projects can do more to support bug fixing efforts.