Monday Jun 18, 2007

NetBeans Solves World Hunger!

Check out this cool article over at eWeek about how the United States Department of Agriculture is using NetBeans.  Really amazing stuff.

Monday May 14, 2007

JavaFX and NetBeans

David Berlind has an interesting article over at ZDNet.  In it, he makes a number of observations about Sun's recent JavaOne JavaFX announcement.  I think he's headed in the right direction, and we should help push him further.

I'm a long time supporter of Java on the client.  Many people know my first job at Sun (almost 10 years ago now - ugh, I feel old) was working on Swing, and more recently I worked on NetBeans, so I have a lot of passion in this space.  Sun's new JavaFX Script technology shows the power that can be unleashed by Java on the desktop when a little focused energy is put into it.  In addition, JavaFX mobile brings this capability to the device space.

David then goes on to note that NetBeans is very strong in the client and mobile spaces, and notes the possibility that this could provide yet another big boost to NetBeans.  I think he's right and all those NetBeans users out there should prove it to him.  He's taking a survey about this.  Go on over and vote NetBeans!  You'll feel good once you have.

Tuesday Jan 02, 2007

Out of Control Budgets, Battlestar Galactica & NetBeans

My favorite TV show on right now is Battlestar Galactica.  Over the recent break I was surfing around the Sci-Fi Channel web site I stumbled across a banner ad on the side of a page.  Here's a snapshot of it that I screen captured.


I guess Microsoft has a big budget to spend on advertising their developer tools.  Back when I worked on NetBeans, we sometimes used to talk about Microsoft, but back in those days I was pretty occupied by Eclipse.  Now that Netbeans is firmly whipping Eclipse it seems like maybe it's time to talk about Microsoft again.  My first thought is that Sun might want to crank up the NetBeans advertising budget!

In thinking about where to spend this giant budget, I thought Sun might want to rename the building where the San Jose Sharks hockey team plays.  Just imagine: NetBeans Arena!  I'm sure that would help a lot of new developers discover the power of NetBeans.  Ah, but then I found out HP already had that idea.  Oh, and well we're on that topic, I recently read that Cisco is spending a gigantic amount of money and effort to build a new home for Oakland's baseball team.  Given that all these fun ways to spend money are already taken, maybe the NetBeans team has the right idea spending their efforts on NetBeans Days.

But, maybe there's one last idea.  How about we re-brand the Golden Gate Bridge the Sun Connection?  Here's a simulation with the bridge painted Sun purple so that you can decide if you like it.

Wednesday Nov 08, 2006

A Tipping Point for NetBeans

I used to be heavily involved in the NetBeans project. I've moved on to other projects but still keep a close eye on my favorite IDE. The Inquirer has a cool report on a recent NetBeans Day event. It's amazing to see how sophisticated these events have become (kudos to Tim Cramer and Matt Thompson).

I was involved in planning the first NetBeans day and it was no where near this fancy. Now it's clear with the combination of great engineering and great marketing that NetBeans has reached a tipping point and is accelerating even faster. There's a real lesson to be learned here about creating and selling technology products. You can put a lot of effort into something (and Sun did put a lot of effort into NetBeans between 2000 and 2004), but get comparitively small results. In the past couple of years Sun invested an incremental amount more on the marketing and evangelism side to show that NetBeans is a major force and the community has rallied around it. Just looking at the attendance for events like NetBeans Day shows it. The change has been sudden (in a relative scale) and dramatic. Way to go guys.

I've been talking to the Tech Days team about adding System Administrator topics to these events. Is that something you'd like to attend? If so, what would you like to see? Leave a comment and let me know.


Tuesday Oct 10, 2006

TV Ratings, NetBeans & Solaris

Network World has an interesting article on the changing nature of TV ratings. TV is really the prototypical connected service. Your TV set isn't worth much unless you have it connected -- either through a cable or over the air. Traditionally, TV viewership was impossible to measure in total (it's a one-way broadcast network), so it was estimated by observing a small subset of the viewers and then applying statistics.

The Network World article discusses the challenges now being faced in measuring TV viewership as more mechanisms are being used watch TV. The funny thing is that Nielsen, the company that does the TV ratings, is being stumped by people using services that should be easier to measure. They don't know how to deal with downloads and the net (talk about old school!). For example, downloads of TV episodes from the iTunes store are very specific and trackable (at least by someone with access to the right data), but Nielsen can't yet handle that. Where as the number of people watching or listening to an over the air broadcast is nearly impossible to measure, but Nielsen has methologies developed over decades for that. They're going to need to move into the 21st century or they're dead.

In the world of connected services for IT, data is easier to gather and richer in content. One interesting example of this is usage of Integrated Development Environments (IDEs). Companies like Evans and IDC make a living off Nielsen-like surveys that estimate the number of developers using differnent technologies. The conclusions of these surveys can be very hard to interpret -- and suspect at times. However, NetBeans (my favorite IDE) contains an embedded connected service called the Autoupdate Center. About once a week the IDE phones home to check for new modules. This is a useful service to the developer using the IDE, but also provides tremendous data to the developers of the tool. Using the back-end of this service it is possible to check a simple finger print on each ID and establish the number of unique IDEs that run each month. These kinds of measures are far more accurate than surveys. Here is some example usage data (note the huge growth!) the NetBeans team published a few months back.

In another example, users of Update Connection System and Hosted register the machines they want to attach to the network. That gives Sun an exact count of usage on the Update network (e.g. we registered about 18,000 new systems to access the network last quarter). I also know how many are x86 and how many are SPARC. Surprisingly, more are now non-SPARC (~60% Intel/AMD vs ~40% SPARC). That tells you something about Solaris x86/x64 adoption. I even know how many CPUs each machine has (the largest system attached to the Update network is a 144 CPU SPARC system in Canada). The team building our internal reporting system even set it up so I can view a given day's registrations with the location of each system plotted on a Google map! Now that's cool.

You can't do that with statistical extrapolations.


Thoughts on cloud computing, virtualization and data center management from Steve Wilson, Oracle engineering VP.


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