Eclipse is not just about Java anymore. It does Linux too.

Eclipse is not just about Java anymore. It does Linux too.

Summary: In response to my post yesterday about InfoWorld noticing Eclipse's momentum (vs. NetBeans), ZDNet reader Mark Wielaard sent me the following via email: I saw your article on why Eclipse is the defacto IDE for Java and your little bet with Tim Bray.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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In response to my post yesterday about InfoWorld noticing Eclipse's momentum (vs. NetBeans), ZDNet reader Mark Wielaard sent me the following via email:

I saw your article on why Eclipse is the defacto IDE for Java and your little bet with Tim Bray. I think you are right. But you didn't mention the main reason (imho). Eclipse is actually supported by the "non-Java" camp now. All the major GNU/Linux distributions are now shipping Eclipse as native binary build with gcj/GNU Classpath and at the next GNU Classpath/gcj conference there will be multiple talks on Eclipse opportunities in the Free Software space  (by both GNU and Eclipse hackers). All this makes Eclipse a platform that is "free" from its Java ties, while Netbeans will drag with it the proprietary Java platform. Eclipse (RCP) combined with the GCC/GCJ is a free platform on itself now.

So here's the question for Sun's Simon Phipps and Tim Bray: Is 2006 the year that NetBeans begins to unhitch its wagon from the Java horse (making it hitchable to other horses as well)? 

Topic: Open Source

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  • I'd expect to see part of NetBeans liberated this year

    As GNU Classpath's Swing is being rapidly improved, I'd expect some components of NetBeans, like the RCP, to be able to run on a fully free software stack, if there are volunteers among NetBeans developers, interested in working together with us on making it happen.

    That's what happened with Eclipse, and now Eclipse is working fine on free runtimes like gcj, Cacao, or Kaffe.

    While it is possible now to use Kaffe inside NetBeans, it is impossible to run it on Kaffe:
    Last time I looked at the NetBeans IDE itself, it had a build system that was rather dependant on interna of Sun's implementation, like its layout, and required too much manual tweaking to get to build on top of Kaffe.

    In addition, NetBeans 5 beta 2 seems to internally depend on at least a few Sun-specific, unspecified, and therefore unportable J2SE extensions, like sun.net.www.protocol.jar.URLJarFile. That means someone interested in seing NetBeans run on a fully free software stack would need to rewrite the unportable pieces to use specified, portable Java libraries first, before it can build and run on free runtimes.

    Ironically, Sun warn developers in the J2SE documentation not to fall into the trap of using unspecified Sun-specific libraries, if they intend to write portable Java code at http://java.sun.com/products/jdk/faq/faq-sun-packages.html

    "A Java program that directly calls into sun.* packages is not guaranteed to work on all Java-compatible platforms. In fact, such a program is not guaranteed to work even in future versions on the same platform."

    cheers,
    dalibor topic
    robilad
    • NB use of URLJarHandler

      Is a JDK 1.4.1-only bug workaround (null pointer exceptions from cache of open jars in the JDK) and can be safely removed from NetBeans once it no longer has to support 1.4.1. If you want to run NetBeans without this class being touched, you can run with -J-Dnetbeans.core.jse141urlpatch.jar.forcecache=true so that particular class is not a problem.
      kablosna
    • Re: I'd expect to see part of NetBeans liberated this year

      I posted some findings on nbdev@netbeans.org:

      http://www.netbeans.org/servlets/BrowseList?list=nbdev&by=thread&from=360950

      Cheers,
      -J.
      jesse.glick
  • KISS

    I am all for Java and NetBeans becoming true open source platforms. However, I would not be in favor of the NetBeans team using resources to support other languages like C or C++. It would only serve to make it a more complicated tool than it needs to be. NetBeans is built on Ant scripts. Any integration with other languages and compilers can be done at that level. If the Eclipse community wants a Swiss army knife, then so be it, but I would rather NetBeans focus on issues of usability and productivity for the building of Java code.
    fricker
    • Netbeans and Java

      So expect Netbeans this year to begin supporting languages
      other than Java. Many studies have shown that developers rarely
      only program in a single language ... so building the support
      (even if it's minimal) in their primary development environment
      is both highly desirable and in some cases critical. To allay the
      fears of those who prefer "KISS", it should be noted that C/C++
      developers frequently have the a similar (although from the
      other side) concern ... they don't want ANT scripts in their
      environment either :-) ... the work going on to support these
      languages will both take that into account (through careful
      design and architecture) and should not effect the resources
      doing core Java work (for example resources from the C/C++
      teams with Sun have been tasked with developing and
      contributing this code for Netbeans). Think of it not as a Swiss
      army knife, but a well-organized toolbox.
      Robert Brewin