The image above was taken on April 28, 2010 around 10:54pm ET. As of that date, the number of Active Individual committers was the same number of Active IBM committers. This says two things, that IBM keeps reducing it’s overall influence on the eclipse code base. Second, that the heart and sole of eclipse development is starting to shift in some ways from company driven to individuals. The vast majority of committers are still paid by somebody to work on eclipse code, but that number is decreasing.
Some may see this as a worrisome sign, I however think the growth of Individuals as committers is a good thing. Here is the reason why.
An individual committer usually works on an open source project, because they have an itch that needs to be scratched. They are also more likely to stick with a project for the long term even if they switch jobs or start working on other things. They tend to go above and beyond the call of duty and work those extra hours so that what is important to them and their community’s needs are being addressed.
Not to say that those that are getting paid to work on open source projects by their company do not have some of these same ambitions, but it is a different mind set that drives most individuals. Also, a company can pull their resources at any time. An individual that is taking time out of their day when they could be doing other things (like sleeping) is something to cherish and nurture.
So when I see people complaining about performance of Eclipse on the Mac as I’ve seen lately on twitter, I can only say this. If it itches that badly, then you may need to scratch it yourself. In other words, roll up your sleeves, and try to address the issue instead of just complaining about it.
Also, to those that are committers on the affected projects, you need to respond quickly and timely to those concerns. Waiting until M7 to do bug fixes is just not going to cut it. For one, the IP review that may need to occur won’t happen quick enough. The individual may have moved onto other things due to a lack of a timely response.
I know we are understaffed, but it is our duty to the community to make sure that we continue to try and grow the committer base. One way to do that is make sure you respond in a timely manner to those bug reports that have patches attached to them. You may find that getting one patch applied, will encourage another, and another. Soon you may have the help you so sorely say you need.