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.