I like to believe that when it comes to programming, I’m usually within a step or two of the general industry. Sometimes I’m a step or two ahead (NetBeans), sometimes a step or two behind (Spring / AOP), but I usually figure it out quickly—and sometimes I’m leading.
Let’s focus on NetBeans. As most of you may know, I’ve been using Emacs as my primary development text editor. I simply hated IDEs that got in my way. Code complete is “nice,” but after a while of not using it it’s definitely not necessary. Keep a browser with the API handy and you’re good to go. Refactoring was tough, yes, but it was a small price to pay.
I had heard that Eclipse’ was winning the IDE wars in a landslide, so I decided to give it a shot. It was fine, but it was slow and really nothing special, in my opinion. Then I tried NetBeans.
NetBeans won’t change your life, but it’s a fast, relatively lightweight IDE that mostly stays out of your way. I really like it! I’ve had the advantage of using 4.0 first, and have heard that the 3.x and earlier versions were slow monolithic beasts that everyone hated. I know nothing about that, but I can say, you must try 4.0! Furthermore, the energy being put into killer plugins seems to have taken off recently. I just downloaded a collaboration plugin that lets me connect with other NetBeans users and work on the same files and chat via “VoIP.” VERY SLICK. Of course, I don’t know anyone else that uses NetBeans, so I’m limited to the demo and poking around with the interface, but it looks really nice.
There’s also a huge collection of plugins for UML diagrams, database browsers, etc. And the majority of it is open-source freebees.
Wrapping back around to the open-step-ahead thing, my only complaint with NetBeans was that it was way down on the popularity list, and I didn’t want to be stuck with an IDE that had little developer support. But alas, it appears that developers have rediscovered this long-forgotten little IDE. “Market share” has tripled in the last 12 months, and the buzz amongst the industry now is people leaving Eclipse for NetBeans.
So, this time I feel I was one step ahead of the industry. But they’re coming around.