Saturday, February 04, 2006

Eclipse updates still lag behind

I was putting the finishing touches on an update to my Rich Client tutorials today and wanted to make sure I was running the latest maintenance release of the Eclipse SDK, version 3.1.2. So I selected Help > Software Updates > Find and Install, then selected the option to Search for updates of the currently installed features and clicked Finish. After several prompts for mirrors it said all there was for me was a new version of EMF (2.1.1) and two other modeling features.

According to the eclipse.org home page, Eclipse SDK version 3.1.2 has been available for download since January 26. But here it is, 9 days later, and the update site doesn't have it. I had to download the 100+MB zip file and do a full clean install instead, and migrate all my plug-ins using the links directory.

Unfortunately, keeping Eclipse up to date is still one of the weaker points in the Eclipse story. I think the reason is that most Eclipse developers do not use Update Manager. There has been some progress in 3.2 but not nearly enough. It's hard to do right - the client software has to be smart, the release engineering on the server side has to be top notch, and all the components, projects, and people have to work in step with each other. But self-updating software is not just a frill anymore, it's a necessity.

Good examples of self-updating abound, such as Firefox, Netbeans, Acrobat, Google Pack, and so forth. There's no reason that Eclipse can't do just as good a job, or better, than any of these. Improving Update should definitely go on my "Grand Challenges" list for Eclipse. If you're in a position to help out, please do.

4 Comments:

At Saturday, February 04, 2006 11:23:00 PM, Blogger The Mackem said...

Ed, couldn't agree more.

I needed to use WTP-1.0, and thus had to update to 3.1.2 from 3.1.1, which of course meant going through the pain that you've just described.

The Update Manager is a star-feature of Eclipse, bothe for use with teh IDE but also for any RCP apps developed on top. That it's not used fully for the platform is dissapointing (especially, as you have pointed out, the great strides forward that Firefox et al have made).

The use/availability of update sites from eclipse.org and other sourced plugins has definetly increased since 3.0 (at that time it was download, unzip and install for most of everything).

Here's hoping that even more plugin providers will migrate over time.

What frustrates me is that there are eclipse.org projects which don't provide update sites or don't give the same visibility to the update site as they do to teh downloads.

Seems to me that EVERY project on eclipse.org should be FORCED to use an update site irrespective of what state the project is at.

Also I think that there is still a bit of work to be done re. dependencies between update-sites.

For example, when going through the recent install I discovered that if I installed VE via the update site (this is one project where the URL is MIA unless you dig around) before I installed WTP then I had problems, but if I reversed the order all was hunky-dory. I "think" it might have something to do with EMF/JEM or something.

Whatching the Blogsphere I've seen some comments from the VE maintainers relating to improving the update site infrastructure so perhaps that will help improve matters.

The DTP and DALI projects are even worse in this regard.

Personally, as I approach my first plugin development where the plugin will be released into the wild, I'll be setting up the update site immediately after the SVN site but before I cut any code.

 
At Sunday, February 05, 2006 4:34:00 AM, Blogger AlBlue said...

The Eclipse update site needs to be http://update.eclipse.org/updates/3.1. When 3.1.0 came out, they put the wrong URL in the feature.xml of the SDK, so it looks at http://update.eclipse.org/updates/3.0 instead.

Whilst they put 3.1.1 in the /3.0 location, they've not put 3.1.2 in there and are instead hoping that people will magically know to put http://update.eclipse.org/updates/3.1 as a new update site in the Update Manager in order to update 3.1.2.

It's not just that it's slow to appear (it's been there all along) but that it's been badly managed. Eclipse 3.1.0 should never have gone out with the wrong update URL in there, and now that it has, they shouldn't have changed the URL afterwards.

Granted, it's in the release notes for 3.1.1, but it's not like anyone ever reads documentation :-) You just have to be an Eclipse Junkie to know ...

 
At Sunday, February 05, 2006 2:36:00 PM, Blogger Ed Burnette said...

Thanks for the link Alex, I thought I was an Eclipse Junkie but missed that one.

So what do you think would be better, one update site that has everything, or a site for each project? I'm thinking the separation between projects is less important than the user experience.

 
At Tuesday, December 11, 2007 3:46:00 PM, Blogger Dave said...

The other frustration with Eclipse updates is mirrors which are down, or do not have the file, or are otherwise unusable. I often have to try twice or thrice (or more) to get a download. So, a mirror ping "cron job" would be nice.

 

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