"What about NetBeans?" A reader gently asked in response to Monday's blog filled with encomiums for Eclipse, but no mention of Sun's premiere IDE, NetBeans. I felt like a Pandora who not only did not wish to open the box, but ignored the existence of the box. That blog was meant to wave a small flag for IT folks to take a look around the shop and see how many projects they have that use the Eclipse Platform in one fashion or another. Then consider how they might better support them. There wasn't a point, or space, for getting into the festering history of Sun (and the Java Community Process) and IBM (and the Eclipse Consortium). Still, it could have been mentioned.NetBeans, now at version 6.0, is another Java-built development environment, in this case a product of the progenitor of Java, Sun Microsystems. Sun invested many years of R&D into NetBeans, only to see its influence overshadowed (if that's the word) by the insurgent (and IBM fostered) Eclipse. Sun has been touchy about this for years. The Sun vs. IBM tussle over the course of Java is not over, nor is it totally irrelevant; however, I would wager it just feels irrelevant to most developers. That's an almost fully subjective statement, not backed by surveys or even statistics - NetBeans continues to be a popular IDE. However, it echoes a sentiment that seems common among developers - the shouting is over, let's get on with it. Getting on with it means using Eclipse as a platform, if you're not in a Microsoft shop. It doesn't mean that NetBeans is no good, or has no purpose; only that it has been marginalized.
The "battle," if one exists, over which is the best or most popular non-Microsoft IDE does involve Eclipse. However, with Eclipse there is the "original" Eclipse Workbench IDE, and then there are many companies that use Eclipse as the framework for their own IDE. Some of them (for example from IBM, Adobe, BEA) are quite good and popular in their own right. More importantly, Eclipse has become more than an IDE or even an IDE platform. Its use as a platform is enlarging at the hands of several scores of companies and thousands of developers, as it pushes into capabilities such as model driven programming, Rich Internet Applications, and enterprise-level services. As it did for the open-source application server GlassFish, it is supposed that if it wanted to, Sun could make an Eclipse plug-in for NetBeans. The fact that it (apparently) doesn't want to should be no surprise, nor cause much consternation. Would it be nice to have Sun's expertise reflected in Eclipse? Sure. Is it better to have NetBeans be the ardent sibling competition? Perhaps. Meanwhile, the Eclipse platform moves on, without Sun and, of course, Microsoft."What about NetBeans?" A reader gently asked in response to Monday's blog filled with encomiums for Eclipse, but no mention of Sun's premiere IDE, NetBeans... The Sun vs. IBM tussle over the course of Java is not over, nor is it totally irrelevant; however, I would wager it just feels irrelevant to most developers.