When a project is young and dashing, mistakes are made. The PDE build process is such a mistake. If you ever tried to build Eclipse (or at least some of the older parts), then you know that this is brittle and the error messages are more like mysterious ramblings of an angry deity than helpful.
Enter stage CBI. From the FAQ:
The CBI build of the Eclipse platform is intended to produce the same output as the PDE build, and thus facilitate packaging without noticeable change. The noticeable difference the CBI build of the platform makes is ease of use to build the platform. For example, the prototype has consistently demonstrated that a newcomer without prior experience can build the Eclipse platform with under 30 minutes of effort on a machine with a supported JDK & Maven.
What can I say?