January 12, 2006

Netbeans 5: Still not switching

Writing about web page http://www.netbeans.org/switch/index.html

Some people have been saying good things about the latest release of Sun's Netbeans Java IDE. I thought that in the interests of not missing out on anything I ought to give it a try. I have very few complaints about Eclipse, but one thing that does bite me from time to time is the slugish performance of SWT on OSX, especially on my G4 powerbook. I'd had good experiences with IDEA 's swing-based IDE in the past, so I thought Netbeans might be worth a try.

So, download it and unpack it; up it comes. It took rather a long time to start (about 90s) on the powerbook, but that's it's first time – maybe it'll be quicker next time.
Now, how do I import an eclipse project? Off the the website, discover I need to install a plug-in. WTF? I thought one of the advantages of NB was 'the best out of the box experience' – I'm installing plugins and I haven't written a line of code yet.

So, plugin installed, I locate my project and click 'import'. A progress bar whizzes to 100% in about 2 seconds. Neat. It stays like that for another 2 minutes. Not neat. Just as I'm about to kill -9 it, it comes back to me. Open the project, open a source file. UGLEEE serif fonts. ugh. Change fonts to monaco (monaco is the default for everything else on the mac… guess NB had to be different). Wait a few minutes for a background classpath scan to complete so I can see a structure view for the class.

Spot 'eclipse mode' keybindings. nice touch. Switch them on. Open a class. ctrl-O for the outline pop-up. Doesn't work. There isn't one. shift-apple-T for the 'open type' dialog. Doesn't work. (it's shift-ctrl-o for some reason). F3 to navigate to a type. Doesn't work. Give up and find keybindings crib sheet.

Navigate to a testcase. How to run it? Run->run file says 'class doesn't have a main method'. Guess I probably need a plug-in or something.

Give up. The GUI's not any faster than eclipse, it looks kinda wierd, half the functionality I'm used to isn't there, it's going to take weeks to relearn the keyboard bindings and make it work how I want to.

Now, I grant you, I didn't give it much of a chance. But then, it's not as if I need to switch. Eclipse does everything I want it too, and I'm used to it. But when I tried IDEA I at least got the feeling 'oh, I could get to like that…' a few times. Netbeans still leaves me cold.

- 5 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Martin Krauskopf

    Hi Chris,

    I'm working on Eclipse Importer. That two-minutes delay you are talking about is really strange. I haven't heard about such problem so far and cannot reproduce with any of my testing projects. Since there are a lot of ways how people configure and organize their projects there are now way to find all problems without community. So if you could somehow help with this – e.g. send me your project, a thread dump or file an issue, it would be quite helpful.

    Regarding tests – there are not special support in Eclipse Importer for recognition of tests in Eclipse Project. But there is powerful support in NetBeans IDE itself. Probably best to create standard J2SE Project and try to play there with tests to get used to it – should be pretty easy and straighforward. In your case I suspect that this is problem in the Eclipse Importer. We could file RFE into NB IssueZilla.

    16 Jan 2006, 09:25

  2. Denny

    This came off as bashing.

    The latest build of eclipse is much better, but I have to say I found it easier to use netbeans "out of the box" than eclipse. Funny that you would pick the "run" as the stickler, it took me a while to get used to how eclipse "runs". Sorta that vi vs. pico deal. Or wordperfect vs. word. Netbeans seemed more straight forward. And I liked the feel better… but I use eclipse now because it has more plugins I like. (Although I did see an article on writing Eclipse AND NetBeans compatible plugins… hrm…)

    Martin did a first class response, I hope you got back to him. We need diversity and community, knocking stuff is sorta low brow…

    But it gets ratings. Odd. Much how soap opera's work. Or politics or religion… how can we sleep while our beds are burning?

    Never mind. I'm more miffed at what's wrong in the world than the old "this IDE is better than that other one, that I didn't give a chance."

    More helpful would be a "pros" and "cons" type deal or something constructive dood. :-)

    Ok, well, don't even know why I commented. Just stopping by, was looking at binding requests onto persistent objects and liked it. thanks.

    31 Jan 2006, 08:08

  3. Chris May

    Sure, a detailed, proper review with pros and cons would have been more useful. Hell, it would have been even more useful still if I'd just entered a whole bunch of bugs into netbeans' buzilla, or whatever they have. But that would have been a load more effort for me, and TBH there's no incentive for me to do so. I'm quite content with the amount of diversity and community that there is in the IDE space without my contribution.

    So what was the point of my blog entry? Just this;

    …when I tried IDEA I at least got the feeling 'oh, I could get to like that' a few times. Netbeans still leaves me cold….

    I'm sure the netbeans guys would rather that I detailed exactly what new features I wanted to see, but hey, I'm a user, not a customer :-)

    06 Feb 2006, 09:33

  4. John Dale

    Interesting to see Tim O'Reilly's article asserting that interest in NetBeans is surging.

    08 Feb 2006, 20:00

  5. Chris May

    Yeah, that's kind of what spurred me to try it again (not particularly ToR's article, but the general blog-o-sphere buzz). But I cleave to my original observation that it's not really got anything that makes me want to switch. Then again, I don't suppose they wrote it specifically for me

    That said, it does suck a lot less than it used to ;-)

    08 Feb 2006, 20:27

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