Given my recent bet with Sun's Tim Bray, I'm definitely a bit more sensitized to anything that's related to NetBeans or Eclipse. So, when yesterday's announcement by development toolmaker Lattix entered my inbox bearing the title Lattix LDM for Eclipse Now Available, I figured why not give them a call to find out what the tool was for, if the company was supporting NetBeans as well, and why it picked Eclipse first. After all, to really undestand why Eclipse seems to be getting more momentum (at least that was my initial assessment) than NetBeans, it probably makes the most sense to talk to the innovators that are making decisions about which of the two to support in their products
<digression>In a footnote to a recent blog post, Sun chief open source officer Simon Phipps thinks looking at this in the competitive fashion that I am misses the point of open source. He could be right. But Tim and I still have that bet.</digression>
I spoke with the two co-founders of the company Frank Waldman and Neeraj Sangal. This isn't Sangal's first venture into the development tools market. According to him, Sangal's last company -- UML modeling solution provider Tendril Software -- was sold to BEA Systems and incorporated into that company's Webgain product. Here's how the Q&A went:
ZDNet: What does Lattix do?
Lattix: we take a new approach to looking at the interdependencies between the various parts of an application and then we create a blueprint of that application (screen shot here). It's an extremely lightweight, highly scalable solution that takes a matrix based approached to visually representing the relationships between an applications modules. UML approaches to this same problem use a box and line diagram that's not very scalable. This non-UML approach is very scalable -- we built this and modeled large systems (up to 20,000 modules) and it's very scalable. It gives everyone involved in a project a very precise big picture view that anyone -- managers, architects, or developers -- can understand.
ZDNet: And once you have this big picture model?
Lattix: Once an architecture is represented, the architect can look at it and say these dependences allowed and these other ones are not. Then after more development is work is done, the architect can regenerate the view and see where the dependeny rules were violated and resolve the problem. They can resolve it by asking the developer to recode within the rules, or change the rules to allow the dependency.
ZDNet: Is this the first time you're supporting Eclipse or was it supported in previous versions?
Lattix: This is the first time. The company is about a year old and this is actually our first public release. We've been working with our 10 customers -- some of them very large companies -- getting Lattix ready for release.
ZDNet: Why Eclipse and not NetBeans?
Lattix: It's what our customers asked for. Now that we're integrated with Eclipse, developers can see the interdepency rules that were set by the architect right inside their development environment and they can refactor their code to comply with those rules.
ZDNet: What's your sense of Eclipse vs. NetBeans?
Lattix: Clearly we chose Eclipse because we think there are many more people on Eclipse than on NetBeans. In the companies that have adopted us so far, Eclpse is the leader.
ZDNet: Are you thinking about doing a version for NetBeans?
Lattix: We've talked to them about doing that. But we haven't heard back. We need their help. We can also use our solution to analyze the two IDEs (Eclipse and NetBeans) and hold them up side by side. We did that for Eclipse and they helped us to understand some of what was going on. We'd like to do that for NetBeans too.