Copying IDE Features - Ethical or Not?
By Roman Strobl on IX 16, 2005
I just crossed this discussion on Eclipsezone. Sure, we at NetBeans inspire ourselves from features available in other IDEs. But that's exactly what Eclipse does and other IDEs do, too. Copying some of the ideas may be unethical in general, but concerning IDE features - I think there's nothing really bad about it.
The main point here is that we listen to our users - they tell us "I found this cool feature in Eclipse or IDEA and would love to have it in NetBeans with this and that improvement". Should we ignore such a voice of customer just because it would be considered as copying? I don't think so - not listening to our users means loosing them. So it's better to implement a similar feature + make it better than in the other IDE. As long as it is legally OK, I think it's a wise thing to do.
Ideally, I would like to see NetBeans as the IDE others are getting inspired from :-) This can happen if NetBeans is the IDE which comes up with the really innovative features. From historical point of view, this was the case many years ago when there was no Eclipse. But my impression is that NetBeans is getting back on track with 4.x and 5.x releases - with features like Matisse, ant-based project system, new CVS support + areas some other IDEs don't cover out of box like J2EE, J2ME, profiling, developer collaboration, etc. I wonder when we'll see Matisse re-implemented in other IDEs...