Here's my latest article at The Register:
The latest incarnation of Visual Studio had a difficult gestation, with critics pointing to the slowness and instability of the beta release...
... This isn't just a criticism leveled solely at Visual Studio; it's against all the modern IDEs out there - VS in day-to-day use is not so different from what we were doing with the first version of Visual Basic 19 years ago. Somehow, Microsoft managed to fatten Visual Studio up to porcine levels and yet using the product feels like you're trapped in the 1990s.
Java IDEs suffer from the same problem, to an extent. IDE evolution has become a game of feature creep, each new release touting bold new features, drawing in concepts well outside an IDE's core competency - half-baked UML support springs to mind - and packing it all into a single frame. The notion of "doing one thing, and doing it well" has been laughed out the window.
And the reason for this stagnation of innovation in the IDE space? The industry leaders have become portly, comfortable, and middle-aged. Eclipse is smoking its logical representation of a pipe, content to let plug-in developers pad out its ecosystem. NetBeans plays perpetual catch-up while its fate is decided for it. IntelliJ no longer sells itself on productivity, having fallen into the "feature checklist" trap.
The time is ripe for a brand-new contender to stroll in with something fresh and steal developer mindshare from beneath the leaders' pipe-yellowed moustaches - just as a young Eclipse once did to NetBeans.
The bubblicious Code Bubbles IDE could be just that new contender. It puts a leash around Eclipse to do the donkey work for it, but invents an entirely new front-end so that programming becomes more like playing with Matey in the bath. A prototype from Brown University in New England and video about Code Bubbles has passed the frothy developer test, with viral emails flying around the workplace.