I read the news of Netbeans moving to Apache with less enthusiasm than a majority of the Java community from what I read:
- DZone Article summarizing the move : removes Netbeans from the grasp of Oracle to a wider audience of developers
- James Gosling endorses this move
For the me, the headline that summarizes my mood concerning this move comes from ZDNet:
So I apologize in advance for being a little black rain cloud here. It is not my desired, nor normal approach.
Now I’m not a heavy NetBeans user, having paid for personal License of IntelliJ, but I just like NetBeans, having used it in the past. My concern is rooted in the model by which Netbeans will grow and advance under Apache. It will rely on the number of Open Source Developers who will jump at the chance to make this IDE all that it can be. But free-time motivation can get sucked away into other things easily (as a passionate developer with a family, I know this all too well.)
The IntelliJ model is one of pure motivation around making a great IDE for a great price and getting individual developers enthused to sell it to their Enterprises who buy additional, slightly more expensive licenses, for their developers. Its an organic process but we’ve made noise at my company, the head Architect saw its use in the community elsewhere, and suddenly Eclipse is not the only endorsed developer option. It’s a beautiful thing.
JetBrains, with IntelliJ’s polish and sheen, is mostly driven by developer dollars (like myself) voting “we like it”. They have a dedicated, passionate, paid staff at JetBrains over in Czechoslovakia. And they keep cranking out tools beyond IntelliJ, such as WebStorm or PyCharm among others. There is also community driven plugin development as well.
The Eclipse foundation is a behemoth, to say the least. It has a board of directors from many large companies who donate two full-time resources to Eclipse development in addition to paying a $100,000 [Platinum], $25,000 [Gold] or $5,000 [Silver] per year sponsorship. It makes me think of an old American Express ad campaign: “Membership has its privileges.”
Eclipse is free and open, yes, but also consider that these sponsoring companies are also using Eclipse as a base for their own developer tools:
- Oracle Jdeveloper (Free)
- IBM Rational Application Developer – (Definitely not free)
- Genuitec’s MyEclipse – (reasonably priced) – one of my favorite Eclipse IDEs
These are companies with a vested interest that Eclipse remains viable, thereby ensuring Eclipse’s future to the best of their ability.
I also consider Apache, a foundation which excels at creating great developer tools, app servers, HTTP server, frameworks, etc. They crank out serious quality. It too has its own corporate sponsorship program which parallel’s the Eclipse model with the exception not to have a full-time dedicated developer among corporate sponsors.
But here’s my question: what about the Apache model is appealing that it makes people think NetBeans will live long and prosper? Adding to the dark cloud inside is what happened with OpenOffice. LibreOffice has taken much of the mind-space, AND developers. So amidst what one article calls a “Developer Drought” Apache is going to shut it down.
Consider NetBeans standalone for the moment: what it has going for it is community enthusiasm. That could remain infectious and even grow to a larger group of developers. Heck, it would even be fun to work on a Development IDE. Dream of things you’d like, propose it – and go do it. That’s what Eclipse has done – it has every imaginable plugin under the sun.
In it’s current state, how many developers are using NetBeans?
- This ZeroTurnAround.com article (Selling JRebel) gives some indication (Netbeans at 10% behind Eclipse and IntelliJ).
- Baeldung.com did an unscientific 2255 responses survey, and Netbeans came in 3rd at 5.9%.
The one thing these show is NetBeans is 3rd. Maybe open sourcing this IDE for enthusiastic developers to crank on it may be the best for it. NetBeans has been slowly moving in the Oracle back room for sometime, and giving it to a community that actually WANTS to do something with may be what the doctor ordered.
Eclipse and IntelliJ both have a well funded, enthusiastic eco-system around them. If NetBeans’ community enthusiasm and energy is in place, it will have measures of success – even Wild success. If like OpenOffice, the “love” has moved on elsewhere, then it is just being sent to a Pasture called Apache, and it will eventually become it’s grave. I hope its the exact opposite.