Finally, an application for Origami (and maybe dinner for Tim Bray)

Finally, an application for Origami (and maybe dinner for Tim Bray)

Summary: Tim Bray, Sun's grand poo-bah of Web technologies says: It’s guys like [Pavel Buzek] who are going to cost Berlind the price of a nice dinner. At issue here (and the subject of a dinner bet, perhaps in a rail car) is whether or not '06 will be the year that NetBeans will score a come from-behind knockout of Eclipse.

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Tim Bray, Sun's grand poo-bah of Web technologies says:

It’s guys like [Pavel Buzek] who are going to cost Berlind the price of a nice dinner.

At issue here (and the subject of a dinner bet, perhaps in a rail car) is whether or not '06 will be the year that NetBeans will score a come from-behind knockout of Eclipse.  If you believe what Ed Burnette has to say (about a merger of the two), then Bray and I may have to go dutch.  So what does this have to do with Origami? If you navigate the labyrinth of links that Bray offers, you'll come to learn that Buzek's magic is keyboard-less programming  compliments of NetBeans 5.5 and a philosophical lesson on flexibility (or a deprivation thereof) from the Ruby on Rails camp.  Wrote Buzek:

The GlassFish community says NetBeans took The Rails Lesson. You bet we did.

The proof is in the double Dutch chocolate pudding of a demo whipped up by Geertjan Wielenga (Geertjan, like my wife, is Dutch.  Hoi Geertjan! Hoe gaat het met jou? ) who did some point-n-click Java programming (involving J2EE and a database) and appears to have survived the subsequent interrogation as to whether or not he really did it without a keyboard (for the most part).  So, what does this have to do with Origami?  We hear about point-n-click programming all the time.  Particularly in the context of turning Mary, the clerk over in accounting, into an overnight developer sensation without knowing thing one about logic, data structures, or programming languages.  So, what does this have to do with Origami? Not sure if you caught it, but the New York Times' David Pogue has thoroughly slammed Microsoft's Origami (or, at least Samsung's implementation of it).  I can't say I bame him.  Wrote Pogue after saying the device committed the "Big Oops" (not to be confused with a feat of object oriented programming like Buzek's):

NOW, holding an Ultra Mobile PC in your hands is very cool and exciting for the first 30 seconds, and it certainly turns heads. Unfortunately, your next instinct is to try doing something on this computer — and that's when you discover that there's no keyboard, mouse or trackpad.

So, what does this have to do with NetBeans? Finally, we have the acid test for all those tools out there that promise you won't have to lift a finger to generate code.  Well, OK, in this case, you actually have to lift a finger.  To make this device work, you have to let your fingers do the walking.  Continue's Pogue:

The trackpad problem is survivable, thanks in part to the touch screen. If something on the screen is big enough, you can just tap it with your finger.....You can also move the cursor by pushing against a textured, eight-directional nubbin with your left thumb — while pressing a button labeled Menu with your right thumb. And you can "click the mouse" by pressing the Change Resolution button while also pressing the Menu button.

That's about the funniest piece of technical writing I've read. Ever.  This can't be for real, can it?  Oh wait, it's the New York Times. It has to be real. Everything's real there.  At least now that the Jayson Blair Affair is long over.  In seriousness, I trust Pogue (but not necessarily the Times).  So what does have to do with dinner in a rail car?  Well, if you read into Bray's blog and click around a bit, you get the sense that NetBeans 5.5 is going to be something special. 

In addition to the impression that a video of Wielenga or Buzek building J2EE apps with a Samsung Origami device might make, there's apparently something for everyone (well, every developer) including (with the help of some other frameworks) AJAX programmers and people who like the increased usefulness of something that isn't 100 percent flexible and that doesn't hurt.  Something like Ruby on Rails (tagline: Web development that doesn't hurt).  To be fair, the tagline over at NetBeans.org was never Web development that hurts.  But, if in January of '07, I'm buying dinner for Tim Bray in a rail car, perhaps by then, the tagline will be Web development that hurts less than Eclipse.  Especially if more influential and long-time Eclipse developers like Philip Jacob Whirlycott actually make the switch.  This year's JavaOne (in two weeks) will be telling.  Last year, the Eclipse Foundation cleaned NetBeans' clock.

Bonus: My little sidetrip to Whirlycott's blog put me on the trail to a bit of grief that Sam Ruby and friends are giving to Bloglines.  Seems like there's some security problems but it's hard for me to parse the techno-babble shorthand. Perhaps someone else can fill us in on the details.

Double-bonus update: Read the first comment below.  Sounds like NetBeans will get a Get out of jail free  card at this year's JavaOne.  It's what happens in June -- something called Callisto --- that Eclipse's Ian Skerrett thinks could send the NetBeaners running for high ground.  He's clearly hoping to savor that moment (I'll have my digital camera handy) when Tim says "I'll take that."

Topic: Software Development

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