James Governor blogs about Eclipse and he is so excited about it that he calls it
the next computer revolution.
I dont think Eclipse is a revolution - it only assembles good ideas mixed with good marketing. Nothing really new. It also helps Java developers finding more acceptance for their applications by providing a native look.
Even with nice plugins Eclipse is still not the most powerfull tool since it's weakest point is IMHO Java. That wont change - even with the money of respected IT vendors.
Any Smalltalk IDE is much more flexible as a system since it is based on pure objects not on files, static typing and static languages. Some questions you should ask yourself:
Can I fix a bug in Eclipse itself while it is running without restarting or debugging from another eclipse session? Can I add a feature to the debugger even when there is no extension point defined - just since I have to fix it or want to include a tool I need for faster development?
Can I save the complete object environment (Object memory) in an image while debugging and continue debugging at exactly the same point the next day or on a different computer?
Can I add a new control structure to the underlying language while the IDE is running and without changing the parser/scanner/compiler?
Can I script the whole Eclipse environment like I can change any Smalltalk IDE using the Smalltalk language. In Smalltalk I can write:
TestCase allSubclasses do:
[:each each removeFromSystem]
to get rid of all unit tests in the IDE for example? I also use the same language to build and deploy my applications. There is no need for a different technology like Ant and remembering xml-tags/ant tasks. Anything is open, accessible and changeable. Even the language itself is just assembled from objects.
I agree that Eclipse does a good job in providing a nice platform for RC applications, frameworks and tools. Nothing else. But people should have a look at more dynamic environments since our world is constantly changing and so should our tools.
Just download a Smalltalk system like Squeak or VisualWorks and try it for yourself. Or have a look at: http://www.opencroquet.org. Download and try it. I would call Croquet a revolution, but not Eclipse.
But as Alan Kay says:
"The Computer "Revolution" Hasn't Happened Yet!" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Kay)