Sunday, November 06, 2005

Java upgrades and releases

Perusing the Sun Java site, I came across the latest version of Java 1.4.2, release 10. There's a set of release notes that cover 59 fixes across a wide range of subsystems. The bug fixes continue with Java 1.4.2, which should make those who are of a conservative mind feel easier. I'm still waiting for Java 5 update 6. That release was hinted at by the NetBeans 5 bug site in one of it's numerous drop-down list boxes.

Java 6 continues on with Build 59. It was dropped November 3rd. It's the first build that I've installed that comes with the complete Java installer. I had to be careful this time not to install the JRE. I run Java 6 with Java 5 and make sure not to install multiple JREs. It just makes it easier that way. Based on my prelimary runs of various applications, it's performance continues to get better and better. What's more, running the Windows XP look-and-feel makes the application look like a native Windows application. That look, coupled with Java 6's very fast startup and high execution performance makes Java 6 applications look like native Windows (C++) applications.

The same can't be said for the Linux side of things. I've been testing Java 6 with SuSE 10 and its performance is not as great for Linux as it is for Windows on the exact same hardware platform. Further, the look-and-feel support for GNOME (2.12) is horrible. Flame all you want, but Windows provides a superior Java experience over Linux, especially if you're writing client applications.

Speaking of NetBeans, The QBuild for October 31st is out and available. Unlike the much older beta that was released the last week of September, this version has quite a few bugs squashed and quite a bit more stability than either the beta or the bleeding-edge daily drops. I still don't believe NB5 is going to be useful until Java 6 is released, but if you're curious as to what they're up to, then go download a copy and install it.

IBM has just released its version of Java 5 for Linux. The only problem is that it's only for Linux. One other note. Don't use the Download Director to get the download. It's Java-based, poorly written, and a mess when executing inside of Firefox (a bit ironic, ain't it?). It's faster just to get the download via HTTP. I haven't had a chance to install it yet on SuSE 10 and run some benchmarks, but I'm curious to see if the IBM implementation of Java 5 on Linux is any faster than Sun's.

Eclipse also dropped another milestone Friday, November 4th. Milestone 3 is the latest release in the upcoming 3.2 series. While NetBeans stives to add features to compete with Eclipse, Eclipse continues to add polish, stability, and more speed to the existing excellent platform. You should check out the New and Noteworthy section for a complete list of important changes and features. I was intrigued by the addition of OpenGL support to SWT widgets. This is going to make building graphics-intensive plugins and RCP-based applications very interesting, and is a solid answer to Sun's Java 2D and 3D implementation.

I've pretty much abandoned NetBeans. For day-to-day Java development Eclipse still provides a superior environment. The only area where Eclipse lacks is with regards to widget layout on forms. Matisse appears, at first blush, to provide a much superior layout facility to that found in Eclipse. But as I've discovered time after time, it's implementation on NetBeans 5 is flawed and unstable, rendering the promised superiority of Matisse moot. I'll look at it again when NetBeans is finally released, but NetBeans will never replace Eclipse on my machine, and I have a feeling that it won't on a lot of other machines. It might be installed side-by-side with Eclipse just to use Matisse, but I'm not even sure I'll do that. If I've got to go to that much trouble, then I'll buy a commercial UI tool or Eclipse plugin and do the job right.

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