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Open Source Cloud: Article

An Exclusive Interview With Creator Of MyEclipse IDE

An IDE that provides something for every-staged Java developer

Recently I had a chance to chat with Maher Masri, the CEO of Genuitec, the company that offers the Eclipse-based Java IDE called MyEclipse.  While several  years ago people would not be surprised seeing a $3000 price tag on a Java IDE, today even $30 (the price of MyEclipse) makes some people frown. So I was eager to find out why should I even consider purchasing  this IDE  if Eclipse fits the bill for most of the Java developers.

Q. Maher, what relative success have you had in converting downloads into paying customers?
A. MyEclipse is currently used by more than 330,000 developers in 150 countries representing more than 9000 companies around the globe.  $30 is a phenomenal value for what our customers get from MyEclipse.  Many customers have to ask, more than once, if the price is real and if there are further or hidden costs.  They are even more surprised to find out their fees include access to all updates and releases as well as free online support.  Wonderment turns into disbelief as to how we could offer such value and stay in business.  As you know, you could easily pay more than our price for a standalone product offering similar features to one of the many capabilities found in MyEclipse.  Delivering all that our customers need to do their job better and faster for a simple and fair price is the key foundation to MyEclipse.  This is why the Enterprise Workbench has established a global presence and a popular brand in three short years.  It is also the reason that more than 45% of users buy MyEclipse within 25 days of downloading it.  

Q. Wow, it’s much more than I expected  to hear. I know that the power of Eclipse is in abundance of various plugins, and MyEclipse is technically a package of Eclipse and a number of plugins. This brings me back to my original question: Java developers can find all plugins they need, install and configure them by themselves. Are these 9000 companies just lazy and it’s easier for them to buy  MyEclipse?
A. Calling people that value their time and company mission “lazy” is a contradiction in terms.  The notion that rolling your own development tools by scouring Eclipse plug-in sites and then crossing your fingers that hopefully everything will work doesn't survive the enterprise acid test for developers with hard deadlines and no time to debug their environment when they are only paid to debug their mission-critical applications.  Genuitec has invested more than 200,000 man-hours in building and optimizing the Enterprise Workbench.  Let's assume for the sake of argument that someone far smarter than we are can duplicate most or some of the capabilities in 1/100th the time, or in 2,000 hrs.  That is one year's worth of hours for a full-time employee, just to get started.  Not to mention having to take on the full life-cycle cost for  building and supporting a product that has nothing to do with company mission.  And that  is only the tip of the iceberg.  Our customers simply do the math on how much they can save by letting someone else carry this burden knowing that we are also here to continue enhancing the product with every release and to offer support when they need it.  At our prices, the choice is not a debate - rather an IQ test.  

Q. How many salesmen do you employ? Where do you advertise? I can’t recall even one banner or  marketing email offering MyEclipse IDE.
A. We do not employ sales people because we don't believe that IDEs should be sold to IT executives and directors so they in turn force their developers to use them.  You don't tell a carpenter what hammer to use.  Developers know exactly what they need to get their job done.  

We also don't follow marketing techniques (banners, email, print or online ads) traditionally used for lead generation.  Selling $30 software can not survive traditional marketing costs.  More importantly, these techniques tend to turn off our customers particularly with increased noise and undelivered promises.  Developers need to touch, feel and challenge the tools in their environments before they commit to any long-term use or purchases.  They rely on an extended support network and word of mouth to help them sort out what works from empty promises.  Spending more money on marketing IT tools no longer correlates to increased mind or market share.  Producing quality software at a fair price and providing rapid support for emerging technologies will.  That is why, according to Google Trends (http://jroller.com/page/myeclipseblog?entry=myeclipse_muhammad_ali) , the MyEclipse brand is more popular than any IDE on the market today despite the 1000:1 disparity between what competitors spend on marketing compared to Genuitec.

Q. Earlier this year I’ve been talking to creators of another not-free IDE called IntelliJIDEA, and they have the same attitude: they believe in their product and assume that smart developers can appreciate productivity gain and won’t mind paying for IDE. What do you think of IntelliJIDEA?
A. Most IDEs struggle with having to strike a balance between offering comprehensive tool suites and maintaining an agile development canvas.  Unfortunately, all succumb to the bloat in their constant vigil to add more features.  This is why many long-term devoted users of  IntelliJIDEA are questioning what happened with the latest release and why the company chose to turn a sound product into a vat of feature soup.

MyEclipse is not immune from this challenge despite its modular makeup and basis on the Eclipse platform.  We are taking a very close look at our incremental feature delivery and our end users' need to find the right tool quickly and to use it efficiently.  We have an aggressive delivery schedule for 2007 to address this challenge as we continue to grow our features

Q. If you had to list the  top five features offered by MyEclipse , what would they be?

A. That's a difficult question to answer, as the value of MyEclipse for many of our customers is the integration of multiple features and the seamless working environment MyEclipse offers.  MyEclipse provides something for every-staged developer.  For the “old-school” developer, MyEclipse provides rich source editors that dramatically improve the source editing experience.  For the more advanced developer, power is found in the integration of those editors into much broader development environment organized around a work flow for multi-tier application development.

That being said, we have received very positive feedback on some specific features:
  •     Ajax/Web 2.0 tools (specifically our "Instant on" Javascript debugging of local application or remote sites)
  •    MyEclipse UML modeling tool
  • Visual HTML/JSP designer
  •  Integration and cross-awareness of Spring and Hibernate functionalities
  • Comprehensive (30+) set of Application Server Connectors
While we have garnered regular positive feedback on the above tools, we have added over 1500 total features on top of the Eclipse platform and integrated all of those features into a seamless working environment, so it's understandable that the list of “favorites” is going to be different for everyone.

Q. Maher, so what is next for MyEclipse and Genuitec?
A. We have made a commitment to continue adding technology and productivity features with each release and stayed true to this promise for more than 42 releases since the 1st edition in May 2003.  Our subscription-based pricing mandates that we continue to improve so we can win our customers' business every year.  For us, it is election year every year.  The next release for MyEclipse will focus on two key areas:

1.    Productivity and Simplification.  The history of IDEs is based on the premise that you have to be an expert to use it.  This, to us, is a snobbish mentality.  Most developers  rarely ask for an IDE, but rather a specific feature that may only be found in a broader environment. As their skills grow and the needs of their projects blossom, they often back into using a broader IDE feature set.  Our challenge is to make MyEclipse as intuitive as possible for that “Jr. Developer” to allow them to evolve and grow to a more senior level without having to know everything in between.

2.    Modular On-Demand delivery of capabilities.  MyEclipse will be providing, as part of the MyEclipse distribution, a subset of lightweight RCP applications called “Snaps” (Simple Non-integrated  Applications) that are available individually as well as within the broader MyEclipse platform. This will allow users to open and utilize MyEclipse features without the hassle and time cost of opening the entire workbench and being a slave to traditional project layout constraints. When desired, the entire MyEclipse workbench can be used with all prior modifications made utilizing only the Snaps being seamlessly included. We are very excited about this feature's ability to improve productivity, as well as the potential for broader adoption by the layperson searching for individual tools.

Thank you for your time!

More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay. He wrote a thousand blogs (http://yakovfain.com) and several books about software development. Yakov authored and co-authored such books as "Angular 2 Development with TypeScript", "Java 24-Hour Trainer", and "Enterprise Web Development". His Twitter tag is @yfain

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