The Future of NetBeans... and I hate the spin.

by Robert Cooper

Artima has part 1 of an interview with Tim about the future of NetBeans. Now, I am a NetBeans user. I like it. Really. I still find myself hating every time I hear people talk about NB. The spin is just unbelievable.

18 Comments

Stephane L.
2006-08-29 15:32:06
NB also needs to support VI key map editor as well.
Adam
2006-08-29 17:16:29
As is Netbeans 5.5 is far better than Eclipse for Java development. Agreed on the XML tooling issues. Jackpot is actually pretty amazing. Used it on an old library of code built on JDK1.3.X to upgrade it to JDK1.5.X.... it worked wonders and is DEFINITELY worth learning a little more about.
Henrik
2006-08-29 19:41:48
I tried the first NetBeans realease hoping to replace the Borland IDE and ran away screaming. Seeing Eclipse for the first time was the opposite experience. The one thing I love about Eclipse is that it ditches Sun's religious take on doing everything the Java way, and just gets down to delivering a good product. NB could only compare if Java SE allowed Java apps run in synergy with the native UI.


Based on what I have seen proudly hyped over the years, I avoid anything to do with GUI designed by a Sun engineer as they have thoroughly proven to be permanently stuck in a time warp.

Robert Cooper
2006-08-29 20:10:57
I tried the first NetBeans realease hoping to replace the Borland IDE and ran away screaming. Seeing Eclipse for the first time was the opposite experience. The one thing I love about Eclipse is that it ditches Sun's religious take on doing everything the Java way, and just gets down to delivering a good product. NB could only compare if Java SE allowed Java apps run in synergy with the native UI.


Well, I was a devout non-IDE guy (EMACS+Ant) for years and years, I admin, NB4 was the first IDE that changed my mind. Honestly, in spite of a lot of NBisms, I like the fact that it is based on the "Java way". The thing is, the newer NB features have jumped the shark from an independent system to a highly proprietary thing, which does irritate me.


I know this whole post seems profoundly negative, and I still really like NB -- I haven't used IDEA extensively, but I know the people that use it love it in a way that is almost alien to me. Still, I think the whole NetBeans project is starting to drift into features vs usability, and I think that is a bad, bad idea.

Roman Strobl
2006-08-29 23:40:13
Hi Robert, I agree with a lot of what you've said. I especially agree that we need to continue to work on the basic usability stuff and not let many new features decrease overall usability of the IDE. In 6.0 there will be a lot of improved basic editing productivity features, such as better coloring, faster and more intelligent code completion, better editor hints and so on. We are planning support for scriptining languages, too, JavaScript as the main one and some other popular scripting languages are in discussion.


As for the third party support, we'll be launching a new partner program which we believe will bring many new plug-ins (btw compare the size of NetBeans partner ecosystem with the situation a year ago - we have 120+ partners now). Advanced enterprise features you mentioned will be delivered through packs - so people who want to use the basic IDE won't have all the enterprise features in their UI.


One of my pet peeves is that we are not focusing enough on the basic daily developer work (you can ask my colleagues, I keep repeating it all the time :) For me having a really productive editor is key, the enterprise features are a nice add-on, but if the productivity in the editor is not good enough, some people will keep using other IDE's. We're also getting better third-party support as the IDE gains popularity (remember, several years ago NetBeans was not very popular - nowadays it's different). You can also help us by promoting NetBeans ;)


Roman Strobl, NetBeans Evangelist

ms
2006-08-30 07:49:32
How about better guides or documentation ?
I have been struggling to get Netbeans debugger to debug application s running under Weblogic 8x -- no luck yet.


This is a constant refrain from everyone I know who uses NB : great features but not much documentation. You are left on your own.


All in all its a great product




2006-08-30 09:49:55
Dude, its not spin its reality. My guess is your just trying to create adversity in your blog to attract attention.
cooper
2006-08-30 11:14:36
Dude, its not spin its reality. My guess is your just trying to create adversity in your blog to attract attention.


No, it is spin. Granted, you should expect it from someone called the "Chief Evangelist" but it is still spin. The problem is, it seems all the NB communications out to the community have the smell of spin.


Aptana didn't choose Eclipse because Netbeans is "too good for them." To say the Enterprise Pack is "XML Support on Steroids" when it still doesn't even have the basics that you expect a good XML editor to have, is spin.


Being excited about your product is one thing, but there seems to be a real lack of honest discussion about the problems NB has right now, and it is frustrating to be a user and see feature after feature coming into the IDE when the problems and shortcomings that have been around for the last 4 releases are unaddressed.

dog
2006-08-30 18:30:26
I think NB 5.x is the first version that is useable. To me the earlier versions were totally unusable. The UI was too ugly, the memory was too much (back then) and the customizability to limited/hard to figure out.


5.x is more useable (especially the latest versions) so I'm going to have my students use it (it now is easier to use/configure than Eclipse). Of course, I won't because it just isn't compelling enough to make me switch from Eclipse on my real world development projects (in spite of Eclipse's many flaws).


Maybe if I did client side development I would switch. It can't be worse than Eclipse in that regard.

Fernando Lozano
2006-08-31 17:57:00
Netbeans (and Swing, for that matter) still lacks very basic things be usaeable. I started to like the Netbeans UI with 3.6 new windowing system (before it was horrible), appreciated the power of the new Ant-based project system for 4.0, and loved Matisse from 5.0. But:

  • The editor window can't scroll quick enough;
  • Text legibility is very bad. If I improve it enabling text antialiasing, the editor can't refresh as fast as I type the code;
  • I have to wait over a second to get auto-complete sugestions;
  • I have to constantly switch between keyboard layouts so I can type either braces or accented characters (I'm brazillian but my notebook has an US keyboard -- why can't us-international layout work with Java the same way it works for native windows and linux apps?).

I don't have this problem using Eclipse, Anjuta, Kdevelop, Dephi or Visual Studio. Only Netbeans have those.
As a matter of fact, none of these are Netbeans problems. They are actually Swing problems. I had the same with JBuilder.


I can only hope either Sun opens sources Java real fast to the community can fix those problems, or Harmony/Classpath evolve quickly to being able to run complex Swing apps like Netbeans.


By the way, I can already run Eclipse using Classpath quite well.

Alex
2006-09-03 05:00:17
dog: Maybe if I did client side development I would switch. It can't be worse than Eclipse in that regard.


Funny enough, I have a Java application that was written in NB5.0 with Matissue. But the generated code is so human-unreadable, and there is a "Form" file that has to be included in the VCS for others to visually edit it with NB (talking about IDE-lock-in).


Last week, I started re-working it with Eclipse. This is my first time using Eclipse's visual editor. I found the code generated is much more human-readable. There is no IDE-lock-in file generated. And you can actually modified the IDE-generated code and it is reflected on the design screen very quickly.


Now I have really few reasons to use NB anymore, especially the Eclipse Update function is much better than before and basically solves all my configuration problems...

Owen Densmore
2006-09-05 20:44:22
I keep trying the newer releases of NB and give up, going back to Eclipse.


Why? NB has the silly religion that you cannot have platform specific features. Example: they have to have the same file dialog everywhere rather than platform specific dialogs. This is true for more than files, but that one grabs me the most. I use a Mac and their file dialog is wonderful. I just can't figure out why NB cant integrate into the native desktop better.


Sigh.


Owen http://backspaces.net/

Robert Cooper
2006-09-06 06:58:38
I guess I tend to not pay much attention to things like native file dialogs and such. NB is still better on that front than, say, JEdit which might be one of the best simple text editors available. It would be nice if, for instance, NB would register itself as the default editor for .java files on the Mac.
hiren
2006-09-10 05:20:00
mr.cooper how can u say that NB is better thn jEdit ? jEdit is much more faster, have gr8r usablility, n its BeanShell support rocks.




>>It would be nice if,
>>for instance, NB would register itself
>>as the default editor for .java files on the Mac.


NB registerd with .java files on Windows is demn slow, So i prefer to open my java code in notepad either for quick view.

CodeJunkie
2006-09-12 14:42:44
Why do Java developers get so worked up when discussing NetBeans, Eclipse, and JEdit? The best Java IDE in the world is the one that makes YOU the most productive. If vi or notepad do it for you then great, happy codeing!
Robert Cooper
2006-09-12 15:56:28
Oh, holy wars are as old as, well, the Atari 800 vs C=64 days -- at least that I recall. :P


I guess the thing that still gets me about JEdit vs NB vs Eclipse is I use all of them and I really just wish one of them would absorb the good features of all of them.

Mck
2006-09-13 02:56:07
Somebody that can't even change their font size to allow the menubar to fit on the screen, or to assign hotkeys to the actions they like, hardly is worth giving any attention to. You're obviously not smart enough to be programming or using any IDE in the first place :-)
cooper
2006-09-13 08:22:00
:)


It isn't that I *can't* it is that I *shouldn't have to*. There is an important difference, and it goes to my overall point about the level of polish on NetBeans as a whole.