NetBeans attempts to eclipse Eclipse
Java IDE market gets tighter with Version 5.0's tech upgrades, new Matisse GUI builder
The performance profiler is integrated into the IDE and presents data on the running program, including a timing profile for every thread and a memory-usage profile for the entire app.
This data is invaluable in tuning code and is generally provided by third-party tools, such as those from Quest and Compuware. In NetBeans, it’s a mere button click. The resulting data can be stored in a snapshot for comparison with previous or future runs.
The collaboration tools are almost automatic. When you start up the IDE, you can elect to be immediately logged on to an IM-like service, allowing you to contact other team members and easily share code and development artifacts without leaving the NetBeans environment.
This integrated collaboration is an elegant way of extending the idea of NetBeans as the principal home environment for developers. Currently, the collaboration service is hosted by Sun, and team members must have log-ons for that specific server -- log-ons are provided at no cost. Companies that want to host their own collaboration servers for security purposes need to run Sun’s Java Studio Enterprise, which is a free -- but closed source -- enterprise-oriented IDE based on NetBeans.
Version 5.0’s new GUI builder, code-named Project Matisse, greatly assists developers in designing Swing-based forms and screens. It uses the usual metaphor of dragging and dropping controls and widgets from a palette onto a screen.
However, Matisse adds pop-up guide bars and manages the location of controls as prescribed. New fields are automatically aligned with existing fields, and changes to one item result in the necessary changes to the others, so the endless tweaking of forms to get them to look exactly right is now a thing of the past. With Matisse, you drag, you drop, and the form comes out correctly on the first try. This feature alone makes NetBeans worth having.
Sun has made clear its plans to morph NetBeans into a platform and not limit it to being just a Java IDE. For example, an upcoming release of NetBeans will formalize support for C/C++ and offer a separate “enterprise pack” that includes UML modeling capabilities and SOA tooling. These innovative features, and an appealing road map for future functionality, show that Sun is aggressively working on NetBeans. If the company can attract greater vendor participation via the development of plug-ins and polish NetBeans’ features a little further, this IDE will easily become Eclipse’s principal rival.