Sunday, July 03, 2005

Dr. Dobbs Writes About Eclipse and Netbeans

The August issue of Dr. Dobbs carries an article about Eclipse and NetBeans titled "NetBeans 4.1 & Eclipse 3.1" by Eric J. Bruno. The article is a good, if high-level, comparison between the two. Eric is apparently an Eclipse user, as he admits that
I first used NetBeans for Java development about two years ago and wasn't entirely comfortable with it. Consequently, I began to use Eclipse. With it, I could develop and debug Java code within a full-featured IDE that didn't feel clunky.
That was pretty much my first reaction to using NetBeans prior to version 4. I've been a user of Eclipse essentially since version 2.

The article starts by introducing the reader to overviews of NetBeans 4.1 and Eclipse 3.1. The author then compares and contrasts how both IDEs support J2SE development, J2EE development and J2ME development. The author's conclusion is pretty much dead on with mine at this point in time:
Comparing IDEs such as Eclipse and NetBeans is similar to comparing development languages - there is no winner. Both IDEs are competent development platforms for J2SE, J2EE, and J2ME development. Choosing between them largely comes down to taste, influence by others, and whether you develop in other languages in addition to Java.
If you're into using either platform for rich client development then it will also come down to what widget set you want to use. Many strongly claim that the only way to develop client facing applications is to use the Java Foundation Classes. If that's your view then you'll want to use the NetBeans Platform as your rich client platform as well as your IDE. Others will like the fact that the Standard Widget Toolkit and JFace underpins the Eclipse rich client platform, and uses the platform's widgets on which it runs to provide a look and feel that matches native applications. I happen to fall into that camp. For those of you who believe that JFC is the Only Way, let me remind you that Sun has spent a lot of effort to make JFC play nicer with platform native widget sets, especially Gnome and Windows. There appears to be a rather vocal minority in the JFC camp who want a native look on the platforms they deploy on. And somebody liked the Eclipse SWT look and feel so much on Windows that JGoodies created the JGoodies Windows Look and Feel.

Besides, it isn't the look and feel so much that separates the two toolkits as the architecture. I for one miss features in Java2D that are missing in SWT and JFace. Even I find it a difficult choice. Both IDEs are excellent, both platforms are excellent, and to give Sun its due, the new look and feel for JFC is much better than the older metal, which I came to hate with a passion. And for the goombah on JavaLobby that compared IDEA with Eclipse and NetBeans, learn how to write a better comparison. Your review reads like a stoned idiot wrote it.

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