Fickle creatures are we

· by Steve · Read in about 3 min · (455 Words)

I talked a few days back about my preferred Eclipse plugins, and that my chosen Subversion plugin was Subclipse. Subclipse has been going for many years which is why I instantly gravitated to it without really thinking about it, but David was good enough to recommend in the comments that I should take a look at an alternative: Subversive. Since Subclipse has been working just fine for me it took me a while to get around to doing it, but I finally did today.

One thing that instantly strikes you as soon as you go to the Subversive site is that it’s now an Eclipse ‘incubator project’, which means it’s one step away from becoming part of the core Eclipse distribution - this is despite the fact that Subclipse is the longer running project. Indeed if you Google for ‘subversion eclipse’, Subclipse is hit #1 while Subversive is down at rank #6 - so I was now very curious as to why Subversive had been picked over Subclipse. As it turns out, it sounds like some of it was related to IP, but even so you have to believe that they wouldn’t have picked a less functional project.

So, I tried it out. Annoyingly, switching SVN provider disconnected all my projects from their repositories (grr) but luckily I didn’t have any local changes and it was easy enough to reestablish the connection. At first, most things looked roughly the same, the project icons were the same, menu structure very similar - after all, the connector is mostly a back-end after all. However, a single feature had an undeniable psychological impact on me - that Subversive is smart about detecting & interpreting common Subversion folder structures, like this:

In contrast, Subclipse just displays those as simple folders. It’s silly really, but a little difference like that is enough to make me prefer Subversive - it won’t affect my workflow at all, but it just makes me feel comfier. The moral is of course that users are incredibly fickle in their allegiances. especially when it comes to pretty icons 😉

For the record, Subversive has some other nice features too, such as being able to group history views by date and to interleave repository history with Eclipse’s local save history. On a subjective level the Team menu feels a little more polished too, even though the options are exactly the same - it’s those darn icons again no doubt. There’s nothing here that’s a killer blow, and Subclipse would have continued to serve me just fine I’m sure, but a few niceties and the the fact that it’s an incubation project now have meant I’ve switched allegiance to Subversive. I hope Subclipse doesn’t hate me for it.