Thoughts on the Eclipse/NetBeans Interview
By Geertjan on Sep 14, 2006
Since then, the hits on my blog have gone up a lot. Several sites have referenced the interview. But in one particular case, the link to the interview has been prefaced by someone's interpretation of what the interview says. And, the interpretation has been quite interesting to read. The only thing that one can objectively say about the interview is that Kai ported his application and that he experienced both good and bad things while doing so. When you get down to specifics, what Kai says is quite subtle, he actually points out both positive and negative experiences on each point that he makes. However, the summary in this case has completely taken the subtleties out of the conversation I had with Kai, with the result that the impression created in the summary is just plain wrong.
The summary in question is by Scott Delap (here) on InfoQ (which happened to be the session during which Kirk and I composed the article on TSS). Many things written by Scott are very bald statements that are not actually reflected in the interview which his article supposedly summarizes. Let's look at the last sentence, as an example (an important example, since that's the reader's lasting impression). Scott writes, as if paraphrasing Kai: "...serious consideration should be give to Eclipse RCP if native look and feel fidelity is a high priority." But, what does Kai actually say in the interview? Let's have a look:
"If there is no requirement about which UI toolkit to use, there might be a requirement that the application should look & feel as native as possible. SWT based Eclipse RCP would then be a very good choice, although the native look of Swing is constantly improving and in Java 6 should be even better in terms of native look and feel. In fact, both Swing and SWT are getting better and better and both are really fantastic UI toolkits. I started with Swing 0.2, and still am a Swing fan but I also like SWT, JFace and Workbench very much. :-)"
By no stretch of the imagination does Scott's little sentence reflect the content and spirit of what Kai said. Various other points in Scott's summary leave me with questions as well, but the above is the clearest example of someone creating a totally flawed impression, which really is very bad reporting.
The best response I've yet read on the interview was by Neil Bartlett in the comments at the end of the TSS article. He writes, among other things: "I think the interesting thing about this article is that it illustrates that, no matter which of the platforms you choose, you will be a lot more productive than if you build your entire GUI from scratch." And that's the point of the article—not to blow the trumpet for some rich client platform, but to blow the trumpet for all Java rich client platforms and to chat about some nice things and some less nice things in two of them. It is a very inclusive interview and it was written in that spirit. Interpreting it otherwise is really missing the point. (See here for another sad example, which seems a jumbled cut and paste job from the interview, TSS, and Scott Delap's InfoQ story.)