Once upon a time, NetBeans was a significant open-source Java integrated development environment (IDE). Oracle, which has been backing away from Java, took another move towards dropping Java as a priority by dropping support for NetBeans.
Now, with NetBeans, Oracle has proposed that the Apache Software Foundation take over the project. In the proposal, Oracle claims that NetBeans still has 1.5 million developers. I don't believe those numbers.
As Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data, a company that tracks what languages and tools developers use in the real world, told me, "Eclipse shot past NetBeans years ago in usage. We stopped asking about NetBeans a few years back because no one cared about it anymore."
True, NetBeans has its die-hard supporters. Zoran Sevarac, a member of the NetBeans Dream Team, for example, likes the proposed deal. "It's a great thing, and it means that NetBeans has an exciting future. The NetBeans community is very positive about this step and sees this as a logical (and good) way to proceed."
Gosling, in a Facebook post, agreed. "NetBeans is moving to Apache! Oracle has decided to open up NetBeans even more, so that folks like me can more easily contribute to our favorite IDE. The finest IDE in existence will be getting even better, faster!"
It's a nice thought, but the community is small and getting smaller still. Still, unlike OpenOffice, NetBeans does has significant programmers who want to improve it, so perhaps NetBeans may yet reinvent itself. I'm just not betting on it.