NetBeans / Eclipse ease of use

NetBeans pulled in another user. A friend of mine moved from NetBeans to Eclipse in the 3.x days. I got an email a couple of days ago saying he moved back to NetBeans. His reasons are that for J2EE development, NetBeans is faster [ Ed. On the Mac], easier and better integrated. Users are finding NetBeans integration to be a big, big plus.

What makes me curious is his point on NetBeans being easier. I tried eclipse 18 months ago and felt like a child lost in the forest. Kind of like a WIndows user moving to a Mac (where's the other mouse button?). I'm pretty darn used to NetBeans. For those of you that use both NetBeans and Eclipse, how do you compare "ease-of-use"?

My biggest desire for NetBeans is a vi key binding. Ease of use is definitely in the eye of the beholder.


Well there are areas where the oposite is true and Eclipse beats Netbeans in usability by a large margin:
  • 1] Debugger - The combined Thread / Stack view in 'Debug' View in Eclipse is SO much better, more comprihensive and a big 'click saver' then the pair of by-default mutualy exclusive and too small windows in Netbeans. And the 'Display' View in Eclipse is way more advanced then the 'CTRL-F9 Evaluate Expression' in Netbeans. In the 'Display' view you really get code-completion related to the actual stack frame - e.g. local variables (does not work in Netbeans) and you can even create whole multiline code snippet e.g.:
    Throwable cause = e.getCause();
    if (cause instanceof MyException)
    Then you just select the lines and click - evaluate - and whola there is stack trace output on the console....all evaluated against the application, thread and stack frame you have choosen in the Debug view.
  • 2]UniTests - JUnit support in Netbeans is inferior in every aspect and barely usable once you need to run standalone tests (methods) or packages of TestCases. The worst thing is that by default in J2SE project your tests wont launch at all if there are any compilation errors in the other parts of project - and that is a major showstopper for me as I am just rewriting older application - changing main interfaces - and completely unable to test the progress until everything is rewritten.

    Posted by guest on March 02, 2006 at 05:45 PM PST #

One (important) word in favor of netBeans:Simplicity The old engg. principle goes, the common case is simple + easy to use in netBeans. I used eclipse a year & a half ago and was struck by the complexity involved in getting simple tasks done fast. So, +1 to netBeans on that front. Yes, there's plenty of scope for improvement in the netBeans editor. (eg. If i remember right, eclipse lets you hover your mourse over a method call to get its javadoc/complete signature etc) But nB's way more simple. That's its strength.

Posted by Bharath on March 02, 2006 at 09:20 PM PST #

My apologies for the garbled post. Trying to type as fast as you think is impractical,I see. The first sentence should read "One (important) word in favor of netBeans:Simplicity. Like the old engg pronciple goes, the common case is simple + easy to use in netBeans." E & OE. :-)

Posted by Bharath on March 02, 2006 at 09:23 PM PST #

This might be an interesting data point:

I recently ported a set of labs for Spring and Hibernate courses from Eclipse to Netbeans. These are "lead you by the nose"-type labs with lots of screenshots, detailed instructions, etc. They end up developing a simple order-entry appllication.

Total pages for Eclipse labs: 151. Total pages for Netbeans labs: 105.

It's not a scientific experiment, of course, but there you go.

Posted by Greg Trasuk on March 03, 2006 at 12:36 AM PST #

I've played with both Sun Studio 11 (based on Netbeans) and Eclipse with the C++ plugin on Sparc/Solaris, and I have to admit, in our environment, I find that Sun Studio is much nicer, better integrated with the rest of the development environment. I commented on this in my blog.

Posted by John Ahrens on March 03, 2006 at 01:26 AM PST #

John, Netbeans tighter integration with the tools (server, profiler etc.,) is a big thumbs up in india. I know a lot of managers recommend netbeans becoz it does it all, and no need to get out of IDE to do any development.

Posted by Muthu Ramadoss on March 03, 2006 at 02:05 PM PST #

Well I come from an Eclipse using day job and a Netbeans for some personal projects and I find both to be equally odd at times. Personally, both have issues that I just dispise, but both have things I like. Oh well, it seems at times its becoming not only using a language best for the job, but now using the best language and best tool within that languages set to get that specific job done. Oye.

Posted by Jeffrey Olson on March 06, 2006 at 12:44 AM PST #

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John Clingan


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