Why Should JBuilder Users Consider NetBeans?



Borland Codegear released JBuilder 2007 and it is possible now to download a trial version. I gave it a try. I used to be a JBuilder fan for many years, so I wanted to see where the IDE is heading. I must say that JBuilder 2007 has nothing in common with the previous versions of JBuilder. It is rather Eclipse with a lot of plug-ins + visual and ALM tools from Codegear. There's nothing wrong with that, except for what's missing now in JBuilder 2007 is the main reason why I always liked Borland's tools - very good and intuitive UIs. And you will find some other surprises (read on).

If you are a JBuilder user you should consider NetBeans. Why? Because it is much closer to the original JBuilder (2005 or earlier) than JBuilder 2007. NetBeans is swing-based and provides similar wizards and actions as in JBuilder. We have a guide and project importer to help you get started. Here are reasons why to consider NetBeans:
  • Swing GUI builder - JBuilder 2007 doesn't have the old good Swing GUI builder from JBuilder, but it was replaced by Visual Editor. Visual Editor is not as good as the old GUI builder (give it a try too see why - that's why MyEclipse bundles NetBeans GUI builder - their community asked for it). NetBeans has one of the best GUI builders out there. You can check out the demo here.
  • Swing vs. SWT - if you prefer Swing user interfaces, you'll have to get used to SWT. NetBeans is build on top of Swing.
  • User interface - you will find out that NetBeans menus and wizards are more similar to old versions of JBuilder than JBuilder 2007 which adheres to Eclipse's standards. There's nothing wrong with that, except that you as a JBuilder user need to learn a completely new user interface.
  • No support for JSF 1.2 - at least I couldn't find it. NetBeans supports JSF 1.2.
  • No support for Visual JSF design - you can get it in NetBeans with Visual Web Pack.
  • No support for Struts - at least I couldn't find it. NetBeans supports Struts in default installation.
  • No mobility tools - NetBeans provides Mobility Pack which is provides the best mobility tools out there.
  • Profiling based on TPTP - I suggest you to try NetBeans profiler which is very easy to use.
  • Java EE support is a bit harder to use - JBuilder 2007 relies on project WTP so I recommend you to try to use NetBeans' Java EE support. You'll see that it's more like the features you are used to from old versions of JBuilder.
  • For some features you need to use the old version of JBuilder - JBuilder 2005. In fact Codegear bundles JBuilder 2005 with JBuilder 2007, so they acknowledge this fact. With NetBeans you need to use only one version of the IDE - NetBeans 5.5.
  • Pricing - are you ready to pay $2000 USD for the enterprise version of JBuilder 2007 (this is a price with seasonal discount, the usual price is higher)? Or $400 for the developer version? NetBeans and all the packs for NetBeans are available for free. You can also buy support for NetBeans if you want to have guarantee of assistence from Sun. From what I understand the prices from Codegear don't include support.
  • Swing based platform - you can use NetBeans to build applications on top of it. As a JBuilder developer you probably have good Swing skills. However if you want to build plug-ins for Eclipse, you need to use SWT. You can write plug-ins for NetBeans using Swing and take advantage of Swing libraries.
  • Growth - NetBeans community has been growing rapidly in last 2 years, so you can join a succesful community. I am not sure about JBuilder's bright future given the current pricing which does not seem to reflect the current market of Java IDE's.
  • Community - you should also consider NetBeans because of the worldwide community of users, you can join the mailing lists and ask questions. In fact I've seen many JBuilder users joining NetBeans community and asking about the features on nbusers@netbeans.org. We will welcome you and help you get started with NetBeans.
There may be other reasons - as someone who made the step from JBuilder to NetBeans in the past I recommend you to give it a try, you may find out it's easier for you to migrate to NetBeans than to JBuilder 2007. If you have questions about NetBeans, it's features, plug-ins or anything else, feel free to contact me at roman dot strobl at sun dot com or join our mailing lists.
Comments:

Why http://developers.sun.com/prodtech/javatools/borlanddevs/index.html?cid=216456 mentions Nb 5.0? Noboby's working on updating the Sun web site any more?

Posted by guest on leden 27, 2007 at 02:57 odp. CET #

Thanks for the catch, I'll ask them to update it. The promotion was ran when 5.5 wasn't released yet.

Posted by Roumen on leden 27, 2007 at 03:23 odp. CET #


> Swing GUI builder - JBuilder 2007 doesn't have the old good Swing GUI builder from
> JBuilder, but it was replaced by Visual Editor. Visual Editor is not as good as the old
> GUI builder (give it a try too see why - that's why MyEclipse bundles NetBeans GUI
> builder - their community asked for it). NetBeans has one of the best GUI builders out
> there. You can check out the demo here.

The Visual Editor is quite capable. I'm sure that you're quite happy with Matisse. Personally, I was able to break it after about five minutes. You can import existing Swing-based user interfaces into Visual Editor. You can't do that with Matisse. And, with Matisse, if you happen to lose that .form file, you're screwed. Visual Editor works very well with existing layout managers, so you don' t have to learn how the new GroupLayout thingy works.


> Swing vs. SWT - if you prefer Swing user interfaces, you'll have to get used to SWT.
> NetBeans is build on top of Swing.

What does this have to do with anything? This debate is so old and tired. Who cares if the application is built on SWT or Swing? Does it work? Does it do what you need to do?


> User interface - you will find out that NetBeans menus and wizards are more similar
> to old versions of JBuilder than JBuilder 2007 which adheres to Eclipse's standards.
> There's nothing wrong with that, except that you as a JBuilder user need to learn a
> completely new user interface.

I can't argue with this one because I've never used JBuilder. However, if it is indeed true that you have to learn a new UI, then you're learning a UI that millions of other users have become accustomed to.


> No support for JSF 1.2 - at least I couldn't find it. NetBeans supports JSF 1.2.

I'm not sure if CodeGear has included it, but there is Eclipse support for JSF 1.2 http://www.eclipse.org/webtools/jsf/


> No support for Visual JSF design - you can get it in NetBeans with Visual Web Pack.

http://wbeaton.blogspot.com/2006/10/wysipdctwyg-htmljspjsf-editor-in.html


> No support for Struts - at least I couldn't find it. NetBeans supports Struts in
> default installation.

http://eclipseplugincentral.com/Web_Links-index-req-viewcatlink-cid-9.html


> No mobility tools - NetBeans provides Mobility Pack which is provides the
> best mobility tools out there.

I'm curious. What domain experts worked on that Mobility Pack? I'm pretty sure that it wasn't folks from IBM, Nokia, and Sony Ericson because they're contributing to the Eclipse Mobile Java Tools (MTJ) Project http://www.eclipse.org/dsdp/mtj/.


> Profiling based on TPTP - I suggest you to try NetBeans profiler which is
> very easy to use.

And I suggest that you try TPTP


> Java EE support is a bit harder to use - JBuilder 2007 relies on project WTP
> so I recommend you to try to use NetBeans' Java EE support. You'll see that
> it's more like the features you are used to from old versions of JBuilder.

Based on what? How much is "A bit harder"? It's more correct to say that it's different. Developers from industry-leading Java EE application server vendors are working on the Eclipse Web Tools. If they're only a bit harder to use, it might be worth the investment...


> For some features you need to use the old version of JBuilder - JBuilder 2005.
> In fact Codegear bundles JBuilder 2005 with JBuilder 2007, so they acknowledge
> this fact. With NetBeans you need to use only one version of the IDE - NetBeans 5.5.

So I can debug and edit my PHP files (http://www.eclipse.org/php), Ruby, Python, etc. without ever leaving the comfort of NetBeans? Can I build all those reports (http://www.eclipse.org/birt) that I need without leaving NetBeans?


> Pricing - are you ready to pay $2000 USD for the enterprise version of JBuilder
> 2007 (this is a price with seasonal discount, the usual price is higher)? Or $400
> for the developer version? NetBeans and all the packs for NetBeans are available
> for free. You can also buy support for NetBeans if you want to have guarantee of
> assistence from Sun. From what I understand the prices from Codegear don't
> include support.

The free as in beer argument only goes so far. In the grand scheme of things, USD$2000 isn't all that much money. Especially when you compare it to the annual salary of just one decent software developer. If JBuilder has the features and support options you need, isn't that worth something? Personally, I'm probably not going to pay for a copy of JBuilder 2007 for my own personal use. However, if I were working for a company and thought that I could save the company a lot of time (and money) by spending a few bucks on some first-class top-quality tools, wouldn't it be a crime not to?


> Swing based platform - you can use NetBeans to build applications on top of it.
> As a JBuilder developer you probably have good Swing skills. However if you
> want to build plug-ins for Eclipse, you need to use SWT. You can write plug-ins
> for NetBeans using Swing and take advantage of Swing libraries.

I grow weary of Swing vs. SWT FUD. Just ask the thousands of developers who have built plug-ins for Eclipse how big a challenge SWT is. It's not dirt simple, but neither is Swing. Heck, even if you've been working with Swing for years, it's not dirt simple. Besides, if you need some kind of extension for Eclipse, chances are that somebody has already built something like what you need anyway.


> Growth - NetBeans community has been growing rapidly in last 2 years, so you
> can join a succesful community. I am not sure about JBuilder's bright future given
> the current pricing which does not seem to reflect the current market of Java IDE's.

Or you can participate in an existing community that's been established even longer and continues to grow at an impressive rate. There are literally thousands of plug-ins extending Eclipse to do fantastic things. Adopting JBuilder lets you plug into that existing community. CodeGear is just one commercial venture based on Eclipse. You've already heard of MyEclipse, but there's other companies basing their IDEs and products on Eclipse technology; companies like IBM, BEA, Business Objects (Crystal Reports), WindRiver, QNX, and Nokia.


> Community - you should also consider NetBeans because of the worldwide
> community of users, you can join the mailing lists and ask questions. In fact
> I've seen many JBuilder users joining NetBeans community and asking about
> the features on nbusers@netbeans.org. We will welcome you and help you
> get started with NetBeans.

And I've seen many questions from JBuilder users on Eclipse forums. However, Eclipse mailing lists are more intended for communication amoung project developers. However, you're welcome to listen in and provide your input when you think it will be valuable. If you're looking for help, you can hook into the Eclipse newsgroups. The "newcomer" group (news://news.eclipse.org/eclipse.newcomer) is a good place to start if you're not sure.

If you want to see how big the community is, check out Eclipse Plug-in Central (EPIC) http://eclipseplugincentral.com/

Of course, you've neglected to mention the things that you get by using an Eclipse-based IDE.

Let's start with Mylar (http://www.eclipse.org/mylar). Then there's the aforementioned reporting tools (http://www.eclipse.org/birt)? You have C/C++ development tools (which, frankly, I haven't seen or heard too much about); we have the CDT (http://www.eclipse.org/cdt). We also have development environments for PHP (http://www.eclipse.org/php), Fortran (http://www.eclipse.org/photran), AspectJ (http://www.eclipse.org/ajdt), AJAX (http://www.eclipse.org/webtools/atf/index.html), and much, much more. There's also cool new project is bringing support for building IDEs to support dynamic languages (http://www.eclpse.org/dltk). And there's so much more.

Posted by Wayne Beaton on leden 28, 2007 at 07:50 odp. CET #

Ι used to be for years a JBuilder user. (version 5 - version 11). When it was time to move Netbeans 5.x was indeed the IDE closer to the JBuilder I used to like! It used to be a great tool though at its latest versions was consuming extreme amounts of memory and it was lucking innovative features ..at some point.

Posted by Paris Apostolopoulos on leden 29, 2007 at 01:01 dop. CET #

Wayne, thanks for the comments, as usual we have different points of view. Here are my replies:

1. Visual Editor - I worked with it and I wasn't able to create a form which would look good. It's a known fact that MyEclipse bundles NetBeans GUI builder because their community thought it was better than Visual Editor. I hear how NetBeans GUI builder is really good from just everywhere, so while it has some limitations it made building GUIs in Java easy. Visual Editor still has a long way to go especially in terms of user experience.

2. In this case Swing vs. SWT is a matter of prefence of visual look. You can of course disagree. Not everyone likes how Eclipse looks like.

3. New UI - so why to learn a completely new UI if there is an IDE which is closer to JBuilder?

4. JSF 1.2 and Visual JSF - ok, people can compare, but if I'm paying $2000 USD for a tool I would expect such support included.

5. Mobility tools - Mobility Pack is developed together with Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Ricoh, Sprint and other mobile partners. 8. Java EE support a bit harder - based on my user experience. I have 5 years of experience with JBuilder and the way Eclipse supports developing Java EE applications is very different from JBuilder.

9. You are right that PHP, Ruby and Birt are missing in NetBeans (although PHP and Ruby support will appear in few weeks in NetBeans 6.0 :)

10. "Or you can participate in an existing community that's been established even longer."

NetBeans community existed before the Eclipse project was started. 11. Yes, you're right that Eclipse provides additional features that NetBeans doesn't not. Not sure if all are relevant to JBuilder users though.

Posted by Roumen on leden 29, 2007 at 02:06 dop. CET #

> 11. Yes, you're right that Eclipse provides additional features that NetBeans doesn't not. Not sure if all are relevant to JBuilder users though. Roumen, check your logic: First you list features that Netbeans has and JBuilder not and which may not be relevant to JBuilder users (such as Mobility pack), and then you complain that Wayne does the exact thing with Eclipse. You can't have your cake and eat it to... :-)

Posted by Karsten Silz on leden 29, 2007 at 11:23 dop. CET #

I was pointing that out because of C/C++, Ruby and PHP (these are not Java related). But basicly you're right :)

Posted by Roumen on leden 29, 2007 at 11:27 dop. CET #

Roumen, you are hopelessly bias. Shame on you for spreading such FUD.

Posted by asdf on leden 29, 2007 at 10:31 odp. CET #

Just ask JBuilder users how they feel about the change. I have friends who use JBuilder and they are not very happy.

Posted by Roumen on leden 30, 2007 at 01:20 dop. CET #

asdf: of course he is bias. He is NetBeans marketing guy and his blog is marketing stuff.

Posted by OfCourse on leden 30, 2007 at 01:50 dop. CET #

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