The Eclipse Way vs. The Android Way

The Eclipse Way vs. The Android Way

Summary: I've worked on both projects, and while both are "open source", the philosophical difference between how they are managed is stark.


The next version of Eclipse (version 4.3), will be called "Kepler", continuing its astrological theme. The next version of Android will also be something beginning with a K, following its dessert theme. Android's version number is unknown.

The Eclipse foundation decides on a code name in a public discussion and vote over a year in advance, and the version number and release date is decided at about the same time. Google keeps the Android version name closer to the vest, and the number is not known until the day the finished code is released.

Milestone versions of Eclipse are released to developers at regular intervals until the final version is ready in the summer. Android developers get the SDK when everything is done, which could happen at any time without notice.

While both projects are open source, the differences in how they are managed are broad. Which way is better? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

For a historical perspective, see these articles from 2005 and 2006:

Topics: Software Development, Android, Google, Open Source, Software, Tech Industry

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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  • Android Naming Convention type-o

    I think that should prolly read dessert, not desert. Damn you auto-correct!
  • Did you mean astronomical?

    "will be called "Kepler", continuing its astrological theme."
    Tomas M.
    • Re: Did you mean astronomical? Did you mean astronomical?

      Wondered about that too. Kepler's main goal in life wasn't the discovery of the laws he is famous for, but nobody would call him an "astrologer".
      • Johannes Kepler

        did do astrological horoscopes for living. He was a brilliant mathematician and astronomer, he did not very much believe in his astrological findings as well.
  • I'm now wondering

    Some new car models start appearing in September as is tradition. Others appear in the middle of the model year. Some cars are identified by numbers while others use names. Which are better?
  • Here's another thing Android and Eclipse have in common...

    They both totally and completely SUCK. Just keep patting yourselves on your backs that you vote a year in advance. Can you get any more pathetic? Do the universe a favor, either throw Eclipse in the garbage or at least download a copy of Visual Studio and get a clue what an IDE should be like.
    • lol....

      made me laugh, that has to be sarcasm... Visual Studio??? LOL!
      • Nope

        This is the one who's been claiming that all open source developers are murderers ever since Hans Reiser was convicted.

        He should have been barred from ZDNet years ago.
        John L. Ries
      • Eclipse really sucks

        The first time I downloaded it, I didn't know what to do next. There was zero instructions on how to proceed. But there were four different text files boasting the licenses. I am a programmer, not a lawyer, for goodness sake.

        Eclipse seems like a narcissistic application for the in-crowd to brag that only they know how to use it. And it is deliberate paved with obstacles to keep the circle small so that the bragging aura can last longer. I mean, what's there to boast if you are an anonymous Visual Studio user among millions?
        • "The first time I downloaded it, I didn't know what to do next."

          It's a developer tool. You write code with it, using programming languages.

          In order to make use of it, you actually need to know how to program. That takes a bit more skill than finding your way around the ribbon in Microsoft Office.
        • Doubt you have even seeing it.

          And the key reason is the claim that it has "zero instructions on how to proceed".

          I guess all the built-in tutorials accessible from a button on the 1st screen displayed and the THOUSANDS of tutorials on the web are too complicated for you.
        • Doubt you have even seeing it.

          And the key reason is the claim that it has "zero instructions on how to proceed".

          I guess all the built-in tutorials accessible from a button on the 1st screen displayed and the THOUSANDS of tutorials on the web are too complicated for you.
    • First you say they "SUCK" ...

      ... then you destroy whatever shreds remain of your credibility by suggesting Visual Studio as an alternative.
  • This piece of empty pap was listed under 'Must Read Stories' ...

    More than enough said.
    • Talk about blatnatly zero content

      I bet he got paid to write it too - nothing like saying nothing and having your readers generate content for you! And refer to 6 and 7 year old articles too?
  • Open Source Is All Interconnected

    Did you know the Android SDK includes an Eclipse plug-in? So a lot of developers are in fact using both.

    By the way, to the person above who mentioned Visual Studio as a serious comparison--can you do Android development on Visual Studio? No, because it doesn't support those sorts of plug-ins.
    • More than that

      Can Visual Studio?

      - Support all the following on one single project: Java, C/C++, PHP, Visual Basic, Perl, C#, Python, Javascript, Delphi/Kylix, SAS, PL/SQL, Visual Fox Pro, Lisp/Scheme, COBOL, Cold Fusion, ADA, D, Ruby and XML (just to name a few).

      - Provide support for the following compilers: GCC. Intel C++, Intel Fortan, IBM XL, MinGW, Cygwin, Java, GCJ (just to name a few).

      - Run on: Windows, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, IBM AIX and Mac OS X ??

      - Be configurable so that if you invent a language called FooBar, it can support the compiler and syntax with little effort.
  • All open-source projects should be structured the same. Shouldn't they?

    The example projects provided in the article, Android and Eclipse, can be viewed as end members of the open-source continuum. Also, the article failed to mention that Google is a member of The Eclipse Foundation:

    The beauty of open-source development is that there is great flexibility in how one structures a project. And in what open-source license(s) a project uses.

    So the answer is, it depends ...
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Differences

    There are differences in the two projects. Those differences are reflected in how the projects are governed.

    Eclipse is an IBM sponsored project that IBM doesn't want to control any more. The result is that the developers who are interested in Eclipse run it. To get and keep developers, they have to include the developers in the development decisions.

    Android is a Google sponsored project that is managed by Google, with input by the various vendors who sell Android phones and tablets. To get and keep developers, Google must please the vendor corporations. This means that decisions are made in a corporate environment. That includes secrecy for plans and so forth.

    both types are typical for their audience. The big Hollywood Animation Studios did things much the same way when they were developing their systems a decade or so ago.

    Open Source/Free Software development is for those who develop software for their own use. It is also for those corporations that need to cooperate, but don't trust each other.

    It's really just a case of different needs and goals.
    • 77 77

      Open Source isn't same thing as Open Development.

      Big corporations can easily (and in secure way as well) develop software product what then they release and they give source code for buyers (corporations etc). They can as well release the source code for everyone and still maintain the official branch (so others can do own branches or even fork the codebase for totally different product). It is Win / Win situation for everyone.

      Open development is great if everyone agree that they need to follow project goals and everyone needs to be taken a count so best idea wins, not caring who presents it or who invented it.