NetBeans Adds Features, Helps Eclipse with GUI

Sun Microsystems continues to push capabilities for its Open Source NetBeans IDE, expanding web services support, and adding support C, C++ and Mac devs. Far from feeling crunched by Eclipse’s continuing progress, NetBeans execs claim Eclipse’ success is just making NetBeans better. In fact, Sun is working with an Eclipse member to optimize Project Matisse for Eclipse.

OET runs through the highlights of the news, and gets comments and perspective from Dan Roberts, , Sun’s director of developer tools marketing.

    • NetBeans Gains C/C++ Source Code Plug-in Support — Sun released a preview version of the NetBeans C/C++ Development Pack, which allows devs to edit, compile, and build C and C++ applications on multiple operating systems, including Solaris, Linux, and Windows. The preview Pack includes a variety of features to support the C and C++ developer, including editor syntax highlighting, easier code browsing via hyperlinks between invocation and declaration, a makefile wizard, and templates for building C/C++ libraries and applications. The Pack also extends the Netbeans project system to support C and C++ projects and support for multiple project configurations. This plug-in is supported in NetBeans 5.0 and preview versions of NetBeans Enterprise Pack 5.5 across common platforms, including Solaris10, Linux, and Microsoft Windows Operating Systems.OET: What about broadening NetBeans to the C and C++ worlds, what is that about?

  • Roberts: Currently, while NetBeans has scripting support it is all within the Java realm. We are now extending that scripting support outside Java to C and C++. One of the reasons is that NetBeans has a strong following in mobile dev space, and that is still a fragmented sector. Devs are not just writing Java for mobile devices but are working with other languages, such as C and C++ to support devices and even carrier partners. SO, we wanted to support devs work with applications using multiple languages, and offer that support as natively and rich as possible. So, for instance, with these improvements to NetBeans, a dev can work with C and C++ libraries without having to switch tools to build or debug. We’re not seeing an increase, per se, in use of native languages like C and C++, but their use has certainly not gone to zero
  • MyEclipse Brings NetBeans GUI Builder to Eclipse — Genuitec, providers of the MyEclipse distribution of the Eclipse IDE, has released a preview of an implementation of the NetBeans GUI Builder for Eclipse. The Matisse4MyEclipse GUI Builder plug-in is based on NetBeans’ Project Matisse technology, and enables the easy creation of Java Swing rich-client applications within the MyEclipse environment. Based on the GUI Builder feature recently released in NetBeans 5.0, Matisse4MyEclipse provides users with the power and usability that has been creating excitement in the Java development community – and driving momentum for the NetBeans IDE – for the past year. The MyEclipse Enterprise Workbench IDE also extends the Eclipse platform to support UML, web/AJAX, EJB/Spring/Hibernate, database, and rich client platform development for the full application life-cycle.OET: Could you describe the workings of how you and MyEclipse worked on an improve GUI for Eclipse? That doesn’t necessarily sound like that would be in NetBeans’ best interest? 
    Roberts: Genuitec’s MyEclipse team came to us with an idea to do something interesting and innovative. Their customers have told them, ‘We need a Swing-based GUI like what is on NB. That is really cool and that is what we’d like for Eclipse.’ So, MyEclipse decided to do it, and instead of duplicating effort they just came to us and asked how they could integrate Matisse directly [into their MyEclipse IDE]. As you know, Matisse is the project name for the product called NetBeans GUI Builder.OET: So you worked on this together? 
    Roberts: Yes, we did some collaboration. In fact, Genuitec has had a great experience we and they are looking forward to added collaborations.OET: So what does this say about the feud between Eclipse and NetBeans?
    Roberts: Well, there are a couple of implications of this: First, there is the obvious signal that NetBeans still has much to offer Eclipse and other developer communities. NetBeans, after years of being considered something that Eclipse is dominating and surpasses, is still in a position to offer innovation to Eclipse and its vendor members and user community.OET: Fair enough, but isn’t there a danger that Eclipse and their software members will just pick NetBeans’ pocket?
    Roberts: We take a different view. If I am an Eclipse developer, and I see innovation going on elsewhere like NetBeans, I may take a look. While many Eclipse devs today are certainly familiar with NetBeans from sometime in their past development projects, many devs have not looked at NetBeans in a while. So, we look at working with Genuitec as a major plus for NetBeans. Sure, we are helping bring a better UI to Eclipse, but we are also getting some attention for innovation, and that may attract devs to take a fresh look at NetBeans.

    OET: One last point on this. Was there ever a doubt inside NetBeans or Sun that working with an Eclipse partner could be a bad idea?
    Roberts: From day one we’ve being doing Open Source.NetBeans was the first Open Source IDE project, and Sun has always prided itself on that. We have a long track record of standards-based development, and we have always looked at healthy competition among Open communities as a way to provide greater advantages for all communities. So, even now with commercial IDEs under pressure, there is a sense that competition among ‘open communities may actually be better for devs. And that’s because as they compete. on features, the open communities may be more able to adopt ideas and approaches from the other in quicker and more cost-effective ways – compared to the competition between commercial locked-down platforms, where most of the technologies were proprietary.

  • NetBeans Enterprise Service Pack Ready for Mac Devs — The NetBeans Enterprise Pack 5.5 for Apple’s Mac OS X is designed to enable devs to build Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) applications that run on both Power PC and Intel-based Macintosh systems. The NetBeans Enterprise Pack for Mac includes a preview version of the NetBeans 5.5 IDE, the award-winning open source development tool project sponsored by Sun, as well as new tools for developing the latest set of time-saving features for Enterprise SOA architects and programmers, including visual SOA design features for XML schema editing and Web Services Orchestration.OET: What is the significance of your Mac release, and why do it? 
    Roberts: This is the first time we’ve supported J2ME, J2EE, J2SE and SOA on Mac. There is small but interested-and-growing market of devs that are using more than one platform for their development. They have Windows or Linux, and they may also have a Mac laptop or even a Unix-based Apple machine. These devs are certainly not taking over the world, but it is a nice market with passionate devs.
  • NetBeans Adds Update to Java Web Services Developer Pack – Sun released the Java Web Services Developer Pack 2.0 (Java WSDP), which features advanced web service technologies scheduled for inclusion in next-generation versions of the J2EE, and Java SE. The Java WSDP 2.0 release supports JAX-WS 2.0 EA, JAXB 2.0 EA, and SAAJ 1.3 EA technologies, which are the next wave of XML and web services technologies slated for the Java deployment platforms. The goal iof the new components is to support a new architecture, with more logical relationships between web services description, data binding, and SOAP attachment processing. The result is web services applications that are easier to develop, and more efficient and reliable to deploy. In addition, Sun is providing NetBeans 5.0 IDE bundled with the Open Source Sun Java System Application Server.OET: As these new Open Source tools co-mingle with Java, what is the impact? 
    Roberts:We’ve tried to make sure we are current with the latest version of the Java platform. We shipped a version that support JSE 5.0 and Java Enterprise Edition, and paired up NetBeans with standard and enterprise edition for many years now. Recently, that has allowed us to make sure the NetBeans and Java platform teams are tightly aligned on technologies like the Java Persistence API, Hibernate, Java Server Faces and the latest web services API or WS-I interop. In other words, we are able to bring that [work] directly into NetBeans at the same time it is in the Java platform, that is a real big advantage.OET: You mentioned WS-I in that list. What is your take on the need for Java-.NET interop, and how well does NetBean deliver tools for that? 
    Roberts: Interop between Java and .NET is one of the bigger issues we hear from enterprise customers. A major trading desk was telling me of their strategies going forward for how they were using Java internally with their .NET strategies. As you know, about 90% of G2000 have both [Java and .NET] in-house and the issue for those folks is interop, and how to get these to work together. For NetBeams the issue of .NET interop is a door opener. We can show customers how we work with .NET, and we can show where being able to deploy to the whole range of platforms — open standards, Linux, Unix and even Windows servers may also provide a benefit.