Updated: 2006 Java Technology Winners and Losers

by Steve Anglin

Here are my winners and, yes, even losers for the most and least innovative and/or impacting Java technologies in 2006...


2006-12-21 16:12:52
Eclipse? Really?
Steve Anglin
2006-12-21 16:26:38
Yes, Eclipse... While it still holds the lead in Java IDE/general Java framework marketshare, it's leaking air and marketshare to increasingly popular NetBeans. I think for 2006, NetBeans is the winner over Eclipse, imo.

And Eclipse as an enterprise Java IDE/framework does not seem to be catching much interest at all, as well.

2006-12-21 16:56:30
Eclipse LOSING share to NetBeans? LOL! I know exactly 1 java dev who uses it. All the others who DON'T use eclipse are using an editor like VI. Eclipse is the most productive IDE I've ever used even knudging out my old favorite JBuilder. I guess Sun must be investing in O'Reilly :)

Also laughable is Ant as the build system, considering until 2 days ago, they hadn't had any releases since mid 2005. This was the year of Maven 2. You should give it a try and see the Ant is nothing more than a scripting environment.

2006-12-21 17:08:13
I'm curious about how many/what share of Java developers simply use VI and even sourceforge jEdit?

Maven does seem to come and go, but Ant seems to still be be de-facto favorite adopted. Maybe, Maven as well as simpler new build tools like Gosling, etc. will eventually surplant Ant. But not in 2006.

2006-12-21 17:16:02
Not sure why you think Eclipse is going unnoticed.

Adobe is a member of the Eclipse foundation and uses eclipse as the base for the new Flex and Apollo IDE's.

Considering that Flex targets the most ubiquitous development platform currently available (the Flash player) I would say that Eclipse is probably not at risk of becoming obsolete.

2006-12-21 17:27:02
I never said Eclipse is going unnoticed, nor did I say it was obsolete. It's just losing "steam", perhaps because it's getting overextended...
2006-12-21 17:28:51
The poll was for innovative or impacting not popular. Besides, I know zero developers that use NetBeans and a whole bunch that use Eclipse. Not that I care, but I highly doubt any of that market share talk.

I haven't used NetBeans since it severely annoyed me about 5 years ago, what's the big deal with recent versions? Why's it so popular now? Or more in terms of the poll, what's so innovative and impacting about NetBeans and why is Eclipse a looser? Seriously, I'm looking for a rational reason to convert.

Claudomiro Jr.
2006-12-21 17:35:25
I wonder how Eclipse could be a loser for 2006....
2006-12-21 17:37:24
NetBeans IDE has evolved into several packs of plug-ins... Enterprise Edition (version 5.5) is based on Java EE 5 and is made up of the Visual Web Pack and Enterprise Pack. Eclipse does not (yet) offer Java EE 5 capability. Eclipse was never much for plug-ins based on J2EE either. Then, there's evolving beta of Standard Edition (version 6.0) which is based on mostly Java SE 6.

Again, marketshare leader is still Eclipse. But momentum seems to be on NetBeans side, and thus a winner this year. But if you disagree, fine. I just think that if you want a complete end-to-end Java IDE platform on latest spec, NetBeans would be the better choice.

2006-12-21 17:39:36
BTW, NetBeans is a lot different from 5 years ago. I would do another test run. Boy, lots of Eclipse fans. Again, it's a fine IDE platform...
2006-12-21 17:44:24
Maybe, this was overstated as a loss...

Java IDE Platform/general Java Framework
* Eclipse

Instead, we should put maybe JBuilder in there, instead.

jeremiah johnson
2006-12-21 17:55:29
my entire enterprise uses Eclipse (literally hundreds of developers), and I do not forsee NetBeans *EVER* taking over.

NetBeans is harder to use, uglier, and just inferior in all ways except Glassfish integration and Matisse. I've used NetBeans recently and I just can't stand it. I give it a try after each major release.

I've never seen such a large number of people recommend NetBeans but simultaneously I've never seen the application impress any developer I know.

Augustus Thoo
2006-12-21 18:21:13
Even for a Netbeans user like me, it is kind of harsh mentioning Eclipse among the worst. Was it there because of poor level of innovation during the year? I can agree on that.
Rick Jelliffe
2006-12-21 18:39:32
So bogus
Johnson Smith
2006-12-21 19:58:01
I don't have a personal preference for IDEs as I've used them all from JBuilder, Eclipse to Intellij but are you kidding re: Eclipse? Sorry pal.
Wishful thinking.
Bryan Y
2006-12-21 21:01:03
I couldn't agree more with your selections. NetBeans 5.5 has the best GUI builder and is really slick for doing Java EE 5 stuff. I've even managed to convert my co-workers who were long time JBuilder and Eclipse users. It's also nice to have an IDE that doesn't run slow on non-Windows systems.

Also, I see a lot of potential for JRuby and Groovy/Grails.

Delphi's Ghost
2006-12-21 21:55:43
Regarding IDE's, I happen to think that in some ways Netbeans does beat out eclipse in terms of useful plugins available for free, and built in functions. I think part of the pro-Eclipse side is people who are so familiar with Eclipse that Netbeans just feels wrong. I on the other hand, haven't used either enough to have their functions scorched into my brain.
Netbeans also seems to organize my work a little nicer, not to mention being able to bind run, comile, deploy, debug etc.. to my own ant tasks instead of having to go manually start it in the Ant window in Eclipse. There may be a way, but it's not something that has stuck out at me.

However, I would perhaps still give the nod to Eclipse simply because it is far lighter and feels like I'm running a lightweight app, whereas Netbeans feels like a mammoth running on my machine.

Personally, I would love a lightweight (java, html, jsp, xml) editor with code completion, the ability to run ant tasks from bound keys and a file manager. Anyone got any suggestions?

2006-12-21 23:58:38
The thing with eclipse vs netbeans is not that one is clearly better then the other but that netbeans seems to have more vision and is more innovating at the moment. Also swt seems like a big mistake in hindsight.
2006-12-22 00:36:54
What, Eclipse looser?!?! This is ridiculous. Recently I'm doing evaluation of ESB tools. Most of the vendors use Eclipse as foundation for their tools (Tibco upcoming BusinessWorks modeler, Software AG CrossVision, BEA Aqualogic ESB). You seems to be joking... Even Borland bases their new IDE on Eclipe. This becoming de-facto standard.
Ulrich Weber
2006-12-22 01:08:15
Never ever saw one single developer using NetBeans here in Germany's big IT-departments. Where are you living? On the darkside of the moon? Microsoft with VS.NET and Eclipse are dominating our IT-departments. Your article looks to me very biased of even like an attempt to astroturf.

After all O'Reilly and Sun are driving Sun's marketing- and propaganda-website java.net, right? To put it simple: if you are an extraterrestrian learning Java (TM) and you get your information from java.net (only) you would never guess that there could be other companies or projects doing Java-technology then Sun Microsystems. That's not very different from Microsoft and I used to be an MSFT-only developer for too long.

Andy Yates
2006-12-22 01:45:26
I was more surprised that Jetty was mentioned in the "losers" catagory. Seriously considering how test oriented the community is becoming, putting an embedded servlet container as a loser is short sighted considering that version 6.0 was released this year and now supports Servlet 2.5 & JSP 2.1.
David B
2006-12-22 01:53:04
How about some facts to back up your article?
2006-12-22 02:39:41
i used NB for a long time, but it used to take heavy toll on my system, then i came to know about Eclipse its rockign man i loved its simplicity nd i am using the Eclipse ever after!
Markus Kohler
2006-12-22 02:49:22
Eclipse loser of the Year ?
I think that's maybe the joke of the year.
Just because Sun finally made some progress to make Netbeans more usable does not mean it gained a significant market share. Do yo have any numbers to support this ?
I would be interested to see number, also compared to Microsoft.
I would expect that Eclipse based IDE's might even come close to Microsofts market share.

The ecosystem of Eclipse (count only the SAP and IBM developers) is just much larger than that of Netbeans.


Markus Kohler
2006-12-22 02:49:45
Eclipse loser of the Year ?
I think that's maybe the joke of the year.
Just because Sun finally made some progress to make Netbeans more usable does not mean it gained a significant market share. Do yo have any numbers to support this ?
I would be interested to see number, also compared to Microsoft.
I would expect that Eclipse based IDE's might even come close to Microsofts market share.

The ecosystem of Eclipse (count only the SAP and IBM developers) is just much larger than that of Netbeans.


2006-12-22 02:57:53
how much did sun pay you for the "oppinion" that netbeans is a winner and eclipse is the looser in scope of java ides?
2006-12-22 03:56:40
Build Tool: Apache Ant?
I realize maven has some problems, but it is far more complete than ant...
2006-12-22 05:22:16
In regard to the Jython "losers" (which significantly predates all these other whippersnappers - to say nothing of how many places Jython is in actual production use), you may be interested in reading this weblog post, "JRuby folks reach out to Jython":


Although I think anyone would agree that the pace of Jython development is glacial, at least from an external POV looking for a next release.

2006-12-22 05:30:11
Actually, our team has just decided to switch from IntelliJ to MyEclipse.

NetBeans is not chosen. Why?
1) NetBeans does not support Perforce. The plugin is only for v4.
2) NetBeans JSF editor locks you in Sun's proprietary implementation (called 'Rave' or something similar?)
3) NetBeans does not even have the basic feature to show instance fields, class fields and class methods in different font or color.
4) Matisse again generates additional non-portable artefact. The generated code cannot be modified and is ugly. The initComponents() method has more than one thousands unreadable lines.

Why MyEclipse?
1) Eclipse has nice Perforce plugin
2) MyEclipse's JSF lets you choose MyFaces as implementation.
3) Eclipse shows instance variables, class variables and class methods in different color or font. So is IntelliJ.
4) The Visual Editor in Eclipse can reverse engineer existing code. The generated code can be modified. It generates nice get methods, easily to read and modify.
5) MyEclipse is an extremely good J2EE IDE, with a subscription of only US$55 a year. It has good support for Struts, JSF, Hibernate, Spring, Javascript, UML (including code generation and reverse engineering)... much better than NetBeans.

Justin Pitts
2006-12-22 05:50:38
You can argue that Eclipse is losing marketshare to NB; I can believe that. NB does in fact have a superior GUI designer. However, to say that "[...] Eclipse as an enterprise Java IDE/framework does not seem to be catching much interest at all, as well." seems to be hugely misinformed. I can think of companies, from startups to Fortune 500 stalwarts, who are using Eclipse as an IDE and a platform.
Eclipse may not have added as many features to the core platform this year as NetBeans, but the incremental value it gathers from the community FAR outweighs that.
2006-12-22 07:14:38
I know a guy who uses NetBeans.
2006-12-22 07:24:32
What's so innovating about Eclipse IDE? Nothing, Everyone and their grandmother is making plugins for it. See post above. Does that make it innovative? No, it just make it a platform for people to throw crappy products into. I'm a little surprised that a team would switch from Intellij to MyEclipse, most programmers are more productive with Intellij versus any Eclipse based product. Is it that false sense of there's a plugin to help me do my job. Stop and ask yourself how productive am I going to be with that plugin. The plugins I've seen are too cumbersome and counterintuitive. Intellij/netbeans is far ahead of Eclipde as a Java IDE. The ubiquity that Eclipse has right now ill back fire because of the amount of plugins. Having options is good, having too many options is really bad especailly when some of those options are crappy.
Tim O'Brien
2006-12-22 07:32:01
Ditto, all the other comments, what's the reasoning besides, "i have to come up with a blog post today" I mean, it's good to make a list, but there's not much behind this other than conjecture.

On most potential "Seam", why is that? Or, how about Jetty? Did something happen in the Jetty community that prompted this?

I guess my issue with this is that some pointy haired boss someone picks this up and says, "Steve Anglin said, Log4J is a winner for 2006". What does that even mean?

2006-12-22 07:58:04
I agree with most part of your post, except for the Tomcat-Jetty querelle... IMHO Jetty has become far superior than Tomcat, and will gain in "marketshare" on 2007
2006-12-22 09:59:39
Tim O'Brien and others..., it's been updated. You can agree/disagree. You can post your own. Chill...
2006-12-22 10:04:30
Do I need to list my qualifications? Fmr SAMS Java editor, fmr ONJava.com managing editor, Apress Java editor, etc. And it's just my opinion based on my expertise and feel for the Java market from my perspective for only 2006. Again, chill...

That said, Happy Holidays!

2006-12-22 11:47:22
Steve, Well put with your comment, "Chill". People in our industry tend to grow very attached to their favorite toolsets. I myself was a JBuilder fan, but found it lacking. A few years back once Eclipse started gaining popularity I took notice and started tinkering. Didn't really use it a lot until Eclipse 3.0 or 3.1 though. I remember how cool I thought it was. However I soon started wanting features that didn't come packaged with it out of the box such as a code profiler. I can't tell you how much swearing and frustration I went through trying to just install and get working the Eclipse TPTP. I think it worked once or twice, but kept bombing out. Things in Eclipse continuously stopped working if you made the mistake of using the online updater to update certain components... and I found now easy way to disable or uninstall all the components and plugins.
Along came MyEclipse (a fine product). Things got better. I liked all the nice support for things and it worked better than plain old Eclipse. This made me feel better for a while, but still I suffered.

Then Sun released Netbeans 5.0. Tried it and thought it was great.. could be better, but pretty good. The thing that struck me about Netbeans is that things just work as expected. I didn't have to spend time figuring out how to run a class file, how to debug a file, how to quickly run JUnit classes, etc. (this was especially amazing to me as i hated to have to create Eclipse configuration every time I wanted to run code.

Also, if you do J2ME development at all, Netbeans Mobility Pack SMOKES anything out there today. Period.

The Netbeans Profiler is also one of the most powerful, easiest to use code profilers I have ever used.

UML Modelling and full round trip engineering. Yes, MyEclipse has it, but not as good.

Netbeans projects are built on top of Ant and menu items and NB functionality closely tie to it. Nothing else needs to be said to convey the importance and usefulness of this.

Developer collaboration tools, team code editing. A little immature yet very cool.

Netbeans HTTP Monitor for analyzing request, response, session, cookie, and application data and parameters for every GET & POST request.

Jackpot Refactoring Engine... still a little immature, but so far very impressive. Once NB 6 is released using the new Java compiler API, the refactoring support provided by NB and Jackpot promise to be second to none.

Summary.. Eclipse and MyEclipse are fine. No argument. If you like it better then use it. If you want a Java IDE that is easy to use and provides features that actually work try Netbeans 5.5 with some of its add-on packs.

2006-12-22 11:53:59
And yes Eclipse 3.2 Callisto release made things a little more stable, but the Eclipse plug-in environment installation, management, etc. is still a toilet.
2006-12-22 21:56:43
NB 5.5 was a major step forward(JEE 5, good JPA, JSF, simple UML and so on), with 6.0 more will come.
Eclipse 3.2 introduced their updated java editor(as a released product it's one of the best, NB 5.5 is not even close) stuff and Callisto(still doesn't help the problems with the plugin installs, still just horrible).

So even if I still use Eclipse for java coding, I use NetBeans together with Eclipse. And Eclipse with all plugins that make free Eclipse equal to NB takes up more space than NB(mem and disk).

Warner Onstine
2006-12-23 06:55:42
Just curious why RIFE/Wicket was mentioned and not even a whisper of Tapestry (especially since Wicket is directly inspired by Tapestry). In my mind Tapestry has more mind-share, a larger community, and many more actual sites based on it than these two (maybe even combined, but I won't go that far).
2006-12-23 10:01:01
Tapestry probably would've gotten my vote if it were 2004 or 05.
2006-12-23 13:14:45
I am keeping an eye on Trails, arguably a Tapestry on Rails project. Maybe, something to look forward to in 2007.

Happy Holidays!

2006-12-23 23:56:39
Basic to have for any IDE I think is :
1) code formatting
2) code assist (ctrl+space)
Both of these 'works in-consistantly' or comes in your ways when you least expect.
With every release I check these two and move on :) may be no body even bothers about this anymore.
May be 'actually working' in NB was better than Eclipse while choosing winners :) Happens
Daniel Serodio
2006-12-26 12:06:56
If you think Eclipse is a loser, check Mylar out to see what you're missing. http://www.eclipse.org/mylar/
2006-12-27 07:44:07
Is this the last war of year 2006? People is just soooo close mind, eclipse is very good IDE/framework, so is NetBeans 5 up. I like both of them, but they both has some parts missing or weak. Hope they can be stand tall in year 2007, and peace on earth!!!!!!

--- Open mind is more important than Open Source!!!!!

2006-12-27 07:54:25
By the way, the AOP is not show up in the list? Spring2.x is support AspectJ's grammer (annotation format). This is big for both Spring and AspectJ community.
2006-12-27 13:53:36
Most of AOP's success is already manifested in Spring Framework 2.0, etc. imo.
2007-01-01 10:41:38
Spent 6 months trying to get Eclipse to launch on amd64 Ubuntu. Always does a nice quiet exit after showing the splash screeen. No errors, not nothing. Resorted to booting Windows and trying Eclipse there. Struggled for 2 weeks to get close to the same productivity I was already at with NetBeans, (not to mention the number of times some Eclipse plug-in corrupted the Eclipse installation). Was glad to go back to amd64 Ubuntu and NetBeans. No plans to try Eclipse until they figure out how to make it work on a 64-bit distribution or at least give me a clue why their program likes to do a graceful exit upon launch.
Shaun Smith
2007-01-03 11:34:33
Steve, you do realise that Seam is a framework that integrates EJB 3.0/JPA with JSF? Seam's success is predicated on the success of these Java EE 5 technologies. From the JBoss Seam homepage:

"JBoss Seam is a powerful new application framework for building next generation Web 2.0 applications by unifying and integrating technologies such as Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX), Java Server Faces (JSF), Enterprise Java Beans (EJB3), Java Portlets and Business Process Management (BPM)."

Also, the Dali JPA Tools and WTP JSF Tools projects are *tools* projects, not *runtime* framework projects like Seam so you're comparing Apples to Oranges. Further, you could actually use Dali and WTP JSF to build Seam applications.

-Shaun Smith
Dali JPA Tools project co-lead

2007-01-03 12:34:23
The Eclipse Dali-JSF toolkits could build a Seam like framework. Thanks for the clarification. I will consider retracting. Also, it's too early to pass such judgement in retrospect.

Can you update us all or post a blog about the state of Eclipse Dali, at least. Thanks.