The NetBeans open source platform championed by Sun Microsystems has less industry support than rival Eclipse, which enjoys the backing of vendors such as IBM and Oracle. But Sun on Monday is launching an effort to boost NetBeans and is seeking new endorsements.
NetBeans currently has the backing of about 125 partners, up from about 30 to 50 partners a year ago, but discussions are ongoing with a variety of potential new adopters, said Dan Roberts, director of marketing for developer tools at Sun. The Eclipse Foundation lists 144 member companies but has greater support from high-profile vendors.
"We're actively engaged with a wide variety of folks," ranging from mobile carriers and application lifecycle management vendors to handset manufacturers, Roberts said. "We're covering the complete gamut."
But Sun should focus on quality rather than quantity, an analyst said.
"I think that the key to Sun's success here is less about number and more about the quality and usefulness of the partner offerings they can attract," said Jeffrey Hammond, senior analyst at Forrester Research.
"There is a group of commercial plug-in providers to Eclipse who look at the user base as a fertile ground to developing their own markets. If Sun can convince these providers that the NetBeans user base is large enough and is a potentially profitable market segment, then they will be able to succeed in building an effective ecosystem," Hammond said.
Concurrent with the release of the NetBeans 5.5 IDE, Sun and the NetBeans community on Monday will unveil an expansion of the NetBeans Partner Program for companies building add-ons to NetBeans and recommending the IDE to developers.
An expanded offering called the NetBeans Strategic Partner Program features new marketing, benefits, technical support, and incentives. Business partners demonstrating full support for the IDE and who have met business and technical requirements can receive technical support as well as road map and planning briefings from the NetBeans team. Co-marketing opportunities with the Sun developer community also are part of the program.
Partners can participate in NetBeans developer events, including NetBeans Day, as well as Webinars. They also receive promotion on Sun and NetBeans Web properties such as java.sun.com. These partners will be identified by a special logo.
NetBeans 5.5, which was previewed by Sun earlier this month, will feature support for Java Enterprise Edition 5.5. New features include the Java Persistence API, for database persistence; JAX WS (Java API for XML Web Services) 2.0 productivity tools, Subversion version control support, and enhancements to the NetBeans GUI Builder. The GUI builder had been known as Project Matisse.
With the release of NetBeans 5.5, Sun will offer five value-added technology packs. These include: Enterprise Pack, for building SOA applications; Mobility Pack, for building applications for mobile devices; Profiler 5.5 Pack, for profiling Enterprise JavaBeans; Visual Web Pack, for Web development; and C/++ Pack, which adds C and C++ support to NetBeans.
The technology packs will be offered free of charge.
NetBeans 5.5 provides a common look and feel for applications on the Solaris, OpenSolaris, Linux, Windows, and Macintosh OS X platforms. It also supports the Standard, Enterprise, and Micro editions of Java.