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.