The Myth of Rapid GUI-based Development

I got my hands on a session pass at Java One's "community one" event, and decided to attend two session for which I am a newbie: JRuby and Matisse - both of which were under the "Netbeans Track".

 Both of the sessions were essentially a demo, which consisted of someone very well versed with both the technology and Netbeans quickly clicking and typing to produce some interesting application in an unreasonably short amount of time. Wow! What really gave me goose bumps was when the audience applauded the results. Not goose bumps because I was impressed, but the kind of goose bumps you get when you are embarrassed for someone else.

For any GUI-based development, whether it's portlets, EJBs, SWT applications, or whatever, there will come a point very quickly when you need to do more than the "hello world" component. At that point, you will need to have an intimate knowledge of the underlying technology. Now, the problems is that the GUI lets you get from 0 to 5 without any real knowledge. To do anything more, you need to go back and learn what the GUI did to get you from 0 to 5, which is more difficult than just going from 0 to 5 the "hard" way, by actually learning.

 Rapid GUI-based development tools make good demos. They impress product managers and sales folks. They even sell products. But they are not solutions for real developers.


Comments:

Hi Jeffrey, interesting observation. Are you aware of the fact that there are companies who use the NetBeans GUI builder for quite complex applications? Should we now go and tell these companies that they don't employ "real developers"? :)

This year I was at the NetBeans booth at Java One and I heard the success stories from developers using Matisse. Many came to our booth to thank us for this tool. Do you suggest that these developers are not real?

Also, how do you explain that the GUI builder won an audience prize at JAX in Germany? The attendees were real developers who decided to give the biggest number of votes to Matisse.

The power of tools like Matisse is that it lets you design the UI quickly and then you can go on and write code behind it. Too many people have struggled in the past with layout managers such as Gridbag.

For some people writing all GUI code by hand is a better solution. That's ok. But saying that GUI tools are not for real developers is not ok. Because there are many real developers using the tool.

Posted by Roman Strobl on June 05, 2007 at 09:51 PM PDT #

Jeffrey, you can write perfect UI-code only by hand. But writing manually UI-stuff is not always exciting and it becomes boring. This leads in turn to "copy and paste" strategy, which is no more perfect... In real world we have to be efficient and build maintainable solutions. This can be achieved best separating generated from manually written code. If you use tools like Matisse or Visual WebPack wisely, you can save a bunch of time and money. If you do not know what you are doing - you have to throw away your application after some iterations and start a new project from scratch - perhaps with vi or emacs then... :-)

Posted by Adam Bien on June 05, 2007 at 11:53 PM PDT #

The select items have object values. http://www.watchgy.com/ All is good. When I submit the form, I see "Validation Error: Value is not valid". My first reaction was that I didn't have any validation on the page, so how could a value be not valid? http://www.watchgy.com/tag-heuer-c-24.html
http://www.watchgy.com/rolex-submariner-c-8.html

Posted by replica rolex on December 28, 2009 at 11:59 PM PST #

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