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JDJ Archives: Eclipse vs NetBeans - "Point/Counterpoint" Special

Point/Counterpoint over Java's Desktop UI technology

This article was originally published in print on December 3, 2003

"Eclipse represents the worst of Java"

Lately, there's been a lot of guff spouted about how Sun isn't joining Eclipse. While I understand the bitterness aimed at Sun somewhat, I think that this particular brand of talk is counterproductive and, dare I say it, wrong. The talk tends to center around the concept of NetBeans and Eclipse using common technology, and I think this is misguided, and here's why.

I really dislike Netbeans. I think it blows goats from here to Sussex, and considering that I live in the middle of the US, that's a lot of goats. Given the choice between NetBeans and... Notepad, I usually spend a minute pondering whether I can keep remembering to check extensions on filenames before realizing that I can, and I end up with sucky ol' Notepad instead of bothering with NetBeans.

That said... I use Eclipse fairly often. I have a client who's standardized on WSAD, and I really think Eclipse' project management is a model to be copied. The CVS integration, last time I used it, wasn't bad at all (if a touch kludgey), and...

And I'd rather use NetBeans than Eclipse, given a single project to work with. In fact, the only OS I'll use Eclipse on is Windows. Everywhere else... not a chance. Eclipse represents the worst of Java: an IDE, a popular one, that isn't actually as much Java as I'd like.

Look: NetBeans sucks. I said that already, right? But I can run it on all of my OSes and have a reasonable expectation of what it looks like and how it works. It's NETBEANS. Not NetBeans/XP, not NetBeans/Linux, not NetBeans/Solaris. It's just NetBeans. IDEA (my editor of choice) is the same way: I install it, and the user experience is the same regardless of OS. That's where Swing rocks. It (IDEA and/or NetBeans) is one program, that I don't have to re-learn to use everywhere I use it.

Eclipse... oh man, the first time I opened it up on another OS... ... I don't think I can describe my gut reaction in a public forum. It's amazingly ugly. It's awesome on some OSes... and when I pointed out how ugly it was on MY platform, here's a smattering of the responses I got:

  • "Why are you running THAT OS?"
  • "Why don't you port SWT (to a different toolkit)?"
  • "It's free!"

Um... right. I should choose my OS based on a specific program I want to run, regardless of whether that program fits the machine's overall goal.

It's free, so I should just suffer in silence.

Worse: I should port SWT to my chosen operating system and UI toolkit. While I realise that's the best gift economy move I could make, I'm a busy man. I have too much on my plate as it is, and too many good alternatives to take up porting SWT.

This is what annoys me about Eclipse: the free moniker is misleading, the toolkit is ideal for a limited set of platforms, and the Eclipse people - sorry, guys - carry around this annoying flag of "We're the underdog, HEAR US ROAR."

Bleagh.

More Stories By Henry Roswell

Henry Roswell is a veteran consultant who would like to think he's seen it all, but is constantly amazed by new events every day.

More Stories By Joseph Ottinger

I am a software evangelist for GigaSpaces technologies, as well as a writer and musician. I've been the editor-in-chief of Java Developer's Journal and TheServerSide.

GigaSpaces Technologies is a leading provider of a new generation of application platforms for Java and .Net environments that offer an alternative to traditional application-servers. The company's eXtreme Application Platform (XAP) is a high-end application server, designed to meet the most demanding business requirements in a cost-effective manner. It is the only product that provides a complete middleware solution on a single, scalable platform. XAP is trusted by Fortune 100 companies, which leverage it as a strategic solution that enhances efficiency and agility across the IT organization.

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