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A public pledge to NetBeans

Posted by mister__m on May 7, 2007 at 4:55 PM PDT

I could not be more disappointed after attending the Swing GUI Building With Matisse: Chapter II presented at NetBeans. It's not a problem with the Swing Application Framework or the NetBeans tooling; it's a problem with freedom of choice, vendor lock-in and a close-minded approach, not community-like friendly by the NetBeans guys.

I hate to make such issues public, but I've been trying to solve this in a civilized way for a year. Almost two years ago I've filed an issue about making Matisse extensible. It was ignored for a long time, but over time, I become hopeful again since the NetBeans roadmap indicated that Matisse would support binding for NB 6.

Over six months ago, I've emailed Tomas Pavek, the NetBeans Matisse lead developer (as far as I know) and Scott Violet, who was the spec lead for JSR-295, Beans Binding, to make sure Matisse implemented it as an abstraction, so it was possible to use Matisse with other binding technologies, such as JGoodies Binding or genesis. This email resulted in a thread in which I explained to Tomas what was needed in the API in order to support other frameworks (basically, abstracting how you interact with the binding "metadata"/API and providing extension points to generate the specific binding API code).

One thing that limited my analysis before was the fact there was no publicly accessible code for JSR-295 or the NetBeans support and I was told that a public preview would be available in January. Well, as most of you know, it has only been made available a couple of days ago.

Today, during the session, I mentioned that while I actually found the tooling fantastic, many folks (just for an example, read this) have all kind of issues with Beans Binding and whether NetBeans would allow its users to work with other binding frameworks, by providing a API that is extensible. While Shannon Hickey, the new JSR-295 spec lead, understood it's not like I'm bashing his work, the NetBeans guys simply said they just want to support the standard. What does it mean to you?

  • If you don't believe that beans binding as a concept is the correct way to make GUI development easier (genesis does what we call "UI binding", which is different, much simpler and straightforward), you're lost
  • If you are working with Java 1.4, sorry; NetBeans will never have a decent solution for you since JSR-295 is targeted at Java 5
  • If you want to use a solution that already works with other UI technologies, such as SWT, sorry, no donut for you
  • If you want to keep the binding logic apart from the UI logic, there is no way
  • If you have an existing project or someone pushed another binding solution in your project, you will actually have to branch Matisse and override it to support it

Obviously, the first answer would be: "hey, but about maintainance?" but no one is asking for a JGoodies or a genesis binding module to become part of NetBeans; I am just asking for the possibility of doing so if needed without branching Matisse. And, heck, I've read Matisse's code: the kind of support I'm asking for would require just a few days to extract the dependencies and create an abstraction based on interfaces and going through the API review process, that would allow people with enough knowledge about other binding solutions to validate it. That is it.

So, to sum up, what I'm complaining about here:

  • Sun has always promised us we would have freedom of choice, but NetBeans will get us locked in beansbinding (vendor lock-in)
  • NetBeans should listen to the community and work with the community. For years, there weren't a standard approach for binding and there are tons of folks working with other frameworks right now that could benefit from having a plugin that allows them to work with their current binding solution.
  • If NetBeans wants to become supported by the community, it shouldn't bite the hand of those that helped to evangelize it. I have been actively promoting NetBeans in Brazil for a few years now, both as a consultant and as a SouJava organization member. I just want to help NetBeans to help its users, but apparently NetBeans developers want to push Sun's solution down our throats.

Here is my request: show me I am wrong. Show you can listen to the community. Show me freedom of choice is not just some marketing rubbish. Please.

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