And the winner is….Netbeans!!!

I am one of those developers that started writing Java using a Notepad. I later switched to Edit, a windows command line program because it has better indentation. I have developed some complex UI without the help of mattise. The earliest one I can imagine is a Telephone Number Pad, and an Engineering Drawing Desktop App. This was around the same time that Visual Basic 6 (VB) was the predominant way to write apps for Windows. I was easily the brunt of many jokes from my other classmates who chose to code in VB. They call me a code addict. I didn’t have to write Java, I was just opinionated and maybe stubborn. Java was difficult to write then, especially for Desktop apps compared to ease of drag and drop you get with VB. But I also have a bigger picture in mind. The textbooks I have read said Java is the future. Your Java code can run on anything that has a Memory and a Micro-processor, that for me was the big winner.

My first attempt at using an IDE was KAWA, It was heaven. After a bit of tinkering here and there, I can finally get code completion to work. And the code completion has javadocs embedded. It was fun. I loved KAWA, but I knew I needed more. I tried several other IDEs and Editors, but KAWA was the clear winner then. At least until I met JBuilder.

JBuilder was the hallmark of my programming career. At last I can get syntax coloration, code completion, javadocs, on the fly error checking (unlike KAWA, I still have to compile to see errors), etc etc. I can even set it up for JavaME, which then didn’t have any integration with any IDE. At last I wasn’t the brunt of those jokes anymore. I now have a worthy IDE. We found another sucker, a classmate that uses McAfee Antivirus. We usually taunt him that McAfee can catch itself as a virus if given the proper settings.

A few months later, I was introduced to Netbeans. And a few weeks down the line, eclipse. To be sincere, at this time none of these IDEs can compete with JBuilder, But I have a choice to make, Netbeans, Eclipse or JBuilder. Once again I chose Netbeans. And sincerely, Eclipse was better at this time. Eclipse had more community behind it than Netbeans, and JBuilder was the best of all. What informed my decision was two questions.

  • Who is the custodian of Java?
  • Who made Netbeans?

I saw that one day, there would be new features in Java that only Netbeans will support, at least for a while. I saw that someday, The other IDEs would have to play catchup since Netbeans will always be one step ahead. And that day has come. Netbeans was the first to support Java 7, the first to support Java EE 6, the first to support JavaFX 2.0, and now with Netbeans 7.1 beta, Netbeans is finally one step ahead of all other IDEs. With several features that most IDEs still dream to have, my choice finally made sense.

After JavaOne 2011, I see the other IDEs still playing catchup. JavaFX Roadmap is cool, which will be the first IDE to support the new features? JavaME roadmap is cool, which will be the first IDE to support all the new features? Java 8 is also in the works. There wasn’t even a mention of Oracle JDeveloper in JavaOne, it is a clear message as to the commitment of Oracle to Netbeans. In my mind, I see the IDE wars as being won, at least for another 3 to 4 years.



  1. ss said

    Well, I been using eclipse since 2006 but recently switched to Netbeans. The reasons that drove this switch were other switches:

    From JEE 5 to 6
    From JBoss 6 to Glassfish 3.1
    From Birt to JasperReports

    I found Netbeans behind Eclipse in some areas (code completion, deployment desctipritor editors, etc.) and little slower (SWT on one hand and catched project data in another) but feel that Netbeans has cleaner UI, better support for GF and JR and even if GF start is slower than Eclipse, incremental deploy is quicker.

    Now Oracle is at the driver’s seat and is starting to be obvious that they will invest and push Netbeans over JDeveloper (which I hate BTW) and haves far more resource than IBM and Eclipse community.

  2. mehielgr said

    DISCLAIMER:I am a Netbeans fan(atic) user.. comparing it with Eclipse sounds like a joke for me..

    BUT man, wtf with this article.. Get serious.. Netbeans play(ed|s) catchup all the time for many technologies.. Do you remember maven support? Yes sure netbeans’ maven support is orders of magnitude better than Eclipse’s now but… Same with Git and others.

    Of course it is one step ahead in Java technologies but we didn’t wait a blog to get that. This article is like a promotion… There are a lot of tech advantages in Netbeans you should point out than saying that first supports technologies from its own company.

    Netbeans is the best IDE in the open source world and it will be because it is well designed and flexible enough to adopt new languages and devtools and integrate with them almost nativelly.. so it the winner yes.. but not because it has already JavaFX 2.0 support..

    • Thanks for your points.

      I although thought there are many ways one could compare both IDEs, I decided to pick this angle. It is not a promotion, just my honest thoughts. I have seen Netbeans played catch up for too long, I was (over) excited after JavaOne 2011.

      Thanks again.

  3. Hans-Joerg Alles said

    I was an extensive user of Oracle Developer Suite ( Forms/Reports ). The first versions of JDeveloper, as a kind of replacement, seems to me like an unreasonable demand, deployment to iAS/OC4J was terrible at this time.
    So we decided to switch to NetBeans and Glassfish. Those tools, together with Vaadin or PrimeFaces framework, are the perfect environment for our work.

  4. jor said

    I’m a BIG fan of Netbeans too, is great… but… I think that Intelli JIDEA is the best IDE I’ve seen…

    • I agree with you 100%. I have used it before and the experience is ecstatic.

      But my arguments are based on the fact that new Java technologies seems to be coming to Netbeans first.

  5. Like the author, I’m one of those early adopers – having used Java since the early pre 1.0 days when the entire Java suite was only about 128 classes!! I also progressed through a similar set of editors and compilers Edit, Textpad, JBuilder (up to 6.0 when it became too expensive) and now Netbeans. For me, JBuilder was the real turning point – I was by then actually building commercial appications using Java including Desktop and Web enabled solutions. When JBuilder became too expensive, the choise was between Netbeans and Eclipse. For me, Netbeans was the obvious solution, not becase of support from Sun but because of its similarities to the JBuilder interface – it was just easier. Really looking forward to the realease of 7.1 with the block select feature – I regularly use Textpad just for this!

  6. blogabbas said

    You have made some good points there. I checked on the web to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.

  7. infestation said

    I believe that even jbuilder is a product of oracle. jbuilder preserverse a different aspect of java and jee development than netbeans and eclipse.

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