Yesterday, I responded to talk about bloated IDEs by saying that they make me more productive. I forgot about Joel’s great article on the topic. Joel says that 80% of the people use only 20% of the features of the product, but it’s a different 20%. He’s right, and the same rule applies to IDEs just as much as it does for word processors and spreadsheets.
That’s why plugins are a good thing for IDEs. Not everyone cares about UML, but those who do can get an Eclipse plugin for it. Even with all of the available plugins, Eclipse is still a large package, because even the basic platform needs to support many different styles of working, coding conventions, etc. That’s why Eclipse has so many preferences. But, we’re all programmers, right? Big tabs of preferences don’t work well for consumers, but we’re a bit better at grokking how features are configured via preferences.
I’m not trying to convince anyone to start using an IDE. Do whatever gets the job done for you. My point here is that there is a reason that IDEs are large and may seem “bloated”.