Saturday, June 18, 2005

The sorry demise of NetBeans

Some people managed to totally destroy NetBeans usability for our project. They must have been taken over by the Borg. Let me explain. We have a fairly big application that is made more or less in Java. It is actually written in NetRexx, but that is not really the point here. For GUI development, we used NetBeans. Draw a screen, add widgets, doubleclick and add calls to our own methods. Great. This was up until NetBeans 3.6. And it was easy to add the project to NetBeans: our codebase is make and cvs (now subversion) based. Just add the classpath root to a NetBeans virtual file system, let it scan and it works.
In 4.0 and 4.1, not anymore. Not at all. This confirms my worst preconceptions about IDE’s. These people decided to just take out the extremely useful feature of virtual filesystems and make the thing totally ANT based. The new 4.1 release “is even more flexible” and adds “free form projects”. Free form, my ass. It immediately complains: cannot add project that already has a Build directory. I try now to add a “standard project” (where standard also means “ANT”). No dice, because it ‘is already owned by another project.’
I don’t want NetBeans to build my project. I just want to press F9 and compile. It does not let me anymore, and I waited patiently for 4.1 to correct the situation.
There is lots of docs going with this, touting its flexibility, though totally dense and milling on and on about ant. I already spent a lot of time on this, and it did not help. I think I have the option now to add all the packages and subpackages of the hierarchy by hand. They must have totally lost it. I already saw some complaints on the mailing list and was stricken by the sheer arrogance of those people knowing it better than those who suddenly lost their ability to work with the tool. So by moving and renaming a lot, I got NetBeans to digest the project. I edit a file, and IT GREYES OUT the compile option, probably because of some error in an ant file I don’t want in the first place.
There also seems to be a “blueprint” now for enterprise java project layout, without a doubt devised by ‘technical project manager’ people that never design or code but bestow ‘naming conventions’ upon us that do. But taking working functionality out of a tool to make people conform to your ideology is a very, very sick thing to do. So I stay at 3.6 until I find something better. Bye bye NetBeans, it has been fun while it lasted.


Nerd Progre said...

Hi there!

Kudos from down under, from a Java and Netbeans fan, whom happens to be (me) a former rexx programmer.

I wonder if you ever got a solution to your problem?.

Did you escalate it to the Netbeans team?

Did you file a bug against this?

For me, breaking Netrexx compatibility is one major pain.

And you wonder how I landed here? Simple... I wanted to START Netrexx development and wondered if it was possible to do so with Netbeans. So a Google search for "Netrexx netbeans" took me here. :)

PS: I know a pair of guys in the Netbeans dev team. Let me know if you still want this issue (many years later) brought to their attention. And I also wonder if things changed in the latest greatest Netbeans (6.x by now?) version...

cosmosgrammaticus said...

From time to time I am tempted to try out NetBeans again. I never filed a bug because the people in charge at the time were so convinced they new it all - other people than me were ridiculed for sticking to make and 'class in source'.

I am happy to be a command line compiler person. I get work done. I can TRACE! For my last NetRexx project, which was J2EE-JSF, I did not use an IDE at all.

Nerd Progre said...

Thanks for your prompt reply!.

I was concerned that you had abandoned your blog, as I saw no never entry than mid-2009.

I agree. I´m a command line junkie myself. Yet, an IDE is a must if you´re designing GUIs...


Nerd Progre said...

I forgot to say something... if your old Netbeans version worked, I see no reason not to continue using it!.

In fact, I think there´s a small niche for a nice tutorial on developing GUI apps with Netbeans and Netrexx.

I´m much more comfortable writing Rexx than Java.

So, if you ever had the time, it´d be great to take a few screenshots of your old Netbeans setup and develop a quick example "skeleton app" (a gui with a few buttons) and the logic of the code in Netrexx.... and how to get such a build environment.

Best regards