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Tim Cramer Interviewed

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Sun's director of java tools has been interviewed recently by Javaposse. Tim had to answer some quite tough questions.



My favorite question: What about NetBeans 6.0? Lots of innovation - among all support for scripting languages and focus on the editing features. Isn't that cool?

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Comments ( 4 )
  • Karsten Silz Thursday, April 6, 2006
    Well, the interview was rather easy since these are the same kind of question Tim seems to get all the time (as he said at one point in time in the interview - everybody asks him why Sun doesn't join Eclipse), but mainly because his answers weren't disputed at all. So he got away with saying that SWT doesn't hold any advantage anymore over Swing (but at least on Windows, SWT has native dialogs and anti-aliasing and Swing doesn't) and that Netbeans has 30+x% market share and Eclipse only 40+x% (all the surveys I see put Eclipse at 50+x% - 60+x% at least). And nobody asked for all the things that Eclipse has that Netbeans doesn't (huge ecosystem, commercial vendor support, application lifecycle project, mature C++ & embedded development, AOP, reporting framework, support for popular open source frameworks like Spring or Hibernate etc.).
    But I don't want to start another flamewar, I think it'S good that Netbeans is around because it makes sure that the Eclipse guys don't get lazy. I just dont't think it was a hard interview at all.
    Karsten Silz
  • Programmer Friday, April 7, 2006
    I disagreed with most of Tim's answers. I'm a NetBeans convert from Eclipse. I really think NetBeans is the best, I just disagree as to why.



    Tim talked about SWT/Swing and supporting standards and Matisse. Personally, I'm not developing rich client GUIs (not many people are) so I couldn't care less about SWT/Swing/Matisse.



    The big difference between the IDEs isn't the high level features; it's the implementation and how well everything was pulled off.



    I'm doing heavy web/database work. Eclipse has many great parts; I think the integrated compiler is great. Eclipse's weak point is WTP. Web development is very painful with WTP (haven't used since 1.0 last January). NetBeans just handles basic web server tasks (deploying, propagating, restarting, debugging) much more reliably and quickly than Eclipse.
  • Roumen Friday, April 7, 2006
    I think it really depends on what kinds of applications you develop... when people ask me why choose NetBeans over Eclipse I ask them back - what apps do you work on? The story is different for rich clients, for web development, for heavy enterprise development and mobility. Plus there are some extras like the profiler and developer collaboration. I personally think that Eclipse has an advantage with the editor, but hopefully that will be addressed in 6.0 (we aim for a really good editor and Jackpot will be very innovative). The other advantage is the number of plug-ins, which is also changing... Other than that, I see mostly advantages on the side of NetBeans. But I know I'm not the best person to do an objective comparison :)
  • Karsten Silz Monday, April 10, 2006
    As I said, I don't want to start a flame war here. We currently use the free Exadel Studio (WTP 1.0 + Struts + JSF + some free plug-ins), CDT (we do embedded C/C++ work) and some plug-ins we chose ourselves. We think this is good for our web development. Although there are a couple of different data plug-ins, we use separate database tools. We just started looking into TPTP (profiling, GUI / web app recording, more stuff around JUnit) for profiling (integrated with WTP and Birt now) which looks pretty good. We use a lot of open source frameworks, and if they have an IDE plug-in, then it is almost always for Eclipse and only sometimes for Netbeans. Two examples where there is no Netbeans plug-in: Spring, TestNG. The Hibernate Netbeans plug-in looks kinda weak compared to the original Hibernate tools for Eclipse (http://www.hibernate.org/255.html) - but it's an unfair comparision because it's probably one guy for the Netbeans plug-in vs. JBoss (now Red Hat) for the Hibernate tools. The same is probably true for the AspectJ plugin - one guys vs. a whole bunch of IBMers for the ADT (http://www.eclipse.org/ajdt/team.php).
    The one thing that Netbeans has that I wish Eclipse had is the collaboration stuff - the ECF isn't that far along (http://www.eclipse.org/ecf/). Maybe Borland donates some of that stuff to Eclipse (they introduced that in the latest JBuilder version and currently move to Eclipse)... :-)
    To sum it all up, we are very happy with Eclipse and look forward how Eclipse gets better also because of the competition among Java IDEs (Netbeans, IDEA, maybe JDeveloper) and against Visual Studio from Microsoft. I'm personally convinced that Eclipse has the lead and will retain it, if only for its huge ecosystem and the number of members of the Eclipse foundation (see http://www.eclipse.org/membership/ - strategic developers must have at least 8 developers working on Eclipse projects and within a year must sell one Eclipse based product). A good example for this is Nokia - they recently joined Eclipse and will move their entire tool chain to Eclipse. And they drag along about two million registered developers, and they can afford to open source their J2ME stuff in the mobile Eclipse project (the software is an enabler for them, and they make money on the hardware).
    Unless Sun sets Netbeans free like IBM did with Eclipse, Netbeans will not get this level of support like Eclipse has. Now Netbeans can go successfully after developers since Netbeans has a different goal than Eclipse - Eclipse is a platform for building tools first with some exemplary tools shipped (that we think are good enough for us) whereas Netbeans is first and foremost an IDE (are their commercial products building on top of Netbeans?). Since Netbeans is probably a mostly Sun sponsored project, Sun has to carefully select which battles to fight - I would be a little surprised if the Netbeans development costs are offset by the revenue from support & services for it, and Sun has mostly lost money since 2002 (as Joel pointed out in http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/StrategyLetterV.html, Sun was / is a hardware company, and through Java they commoditized the hardware which really hurt their hardware sales; compare that to the arch enemy IBM which makes a lot of money on selling software and a huge amount of money on services, and they mostly could care less on which hardware Java runs).
    BTW: A good article I recently read compared Eclipse to Linux: In the beginning, many users compiled their own Linux distribution, but most now buy / download a Linux distribution. The same seems to be true for Eclipse - there are a bunch of distributions out there now, and it seems to be agood business (the MyEclipse folks say they are profitable on $32/$51 annual subscriptions).
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