• Share this article:

Eclipse: too big?

Friday, May 19, 2006 - 00:32 by Wayne Beaton

I get this question every once in a while: why is Eclipse so big? Typically, the person asking the question is thinking about the SDK. Why is the Eclipse SDK (version 3.2RC4) 121MB?

It’s a good question. The name “Eclipse SDK” provides a hint: it is the Software Development Kit (SDK) for building Eclipse applications. That is, the basic download for Eclipse contains what folks building plug-ins for Eclipse need: the platform, the Java Development Tools (JDT), the Plug-in Development Environement (PDE), and the source code for it all so that you can browse and debug into all the fore-mentioned parts. The source code accounts for a huge chunk of the download size.

Now, if you’re just using Eclipse to build, test, and debug your Java applications, you can get along with a more basic installation (you don’t need the PDE or the source code). Scroll down the downloads page until you find the “Platform Runtime Binaries” section and click on the one most appropriate for your platform. For Eclipse 3.2RC4, this is 34 MB. This provides you with the base platform for using Eclipse. Unzip this into your favourite directory.

Next, you need to add Java development tools. You can either do this by downloading the “JDT Runtime Binary” from the same page, or you can use the Callisto Discovery site. If you choose the former, decompress the downloaded files into your Eclipse directory and you’re off to the races. If you choose the latter, use the update manager to pull the “Eclipse Java Development Tools” off the update site.

All tolled, it weighs in at 54 MB. Still a lot bigger than Turbo Pascal on my old Apple ][e or Smalltalk/V 286 on a 1.4 MB floppy, but it comes with a lot more features built right in (like refactoring, and code completion, and quick fix and quick assist, and CVS integration, and a real component model, and syntax highlighting, and spell checking, and Ant integration, and local history, and integrated debugging, and, and, and, and, …). Then there’s licenses and graphics and configuration files. And… don’t forget the love. Love takes space.

A few years ago, things were different. But today, I don’t even blink at the prospect of a 121MB download. And with download speeds being what they are these days, I only manage to blink about half a dozen times while it downloads…