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NetBeans Day San Francisco, 2006

Posted by gsporar on May 16, 2006 at 12:01 AM PDT

This is the third year that
NetBeans Day San Francisco has been presented in
conjunction with JavaOne. Each year it gets bigger and better.
Last year
we had over 550 attendees. This year the count was
just over 800 - another standing-room-only crowd. If we can continue
that growth rate, then in just six more years or so we'll have
to do this at Candlestick Park. :-)

Tim Cramer,
Sun's Executive Director of Java Tools
(and our emcee for the day) kicked things off at 12:00.
A key focus for this year's event was partner companies. While Sun is
the primary sponsor of the project, NetBeans is more than just Sun. So
the first speaker Tim introduced was
Garrett Rooney of
CollabNet, who
did a demo of a NetBeans plug-in module that provides support for
Subversion. It's
still at sort of a preview/beta phase, but it works. To top it off,
Garrett brought really nice NetBeans/Subversion tee-shirts - I helped
him pass them out before the start of the festivities.

Next up, Tim introduced Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's
CEO. This is Jonathan's second NetBeans Day. Last year he
was a bit surprised at the size of the crowd. This year he knew what to expect - a full
house. He talked about why he is so passionate about creating quality
developer tools - he used to work for a startup software company. And he
saw first hand how tools make a big difference in developer productivity.
He then brought Rich Green up on stage and had some fun with him by asking him
some tough questions. Rich has recently returned to Sun as Executive Vice President
in charge of software, so Jonathan started out with, "Are you going to open
source Java?"

Jonathan then introduced
Jared Peterson
from Sprint.
Jared talked about how the next big revenue opportunity for Sprint is data
services via cell phone. The folks at Sprint are excited about
the NetBeans Mobility Pack because in their view it is the best tool
for building Java applications for mobile devices. They like it so much
they have based their SDK on it.
Jared had one of his Sprint colleagues do a demo of their toolkit.

After that Joshua Bloch and
Neil Gafter did their "Click and Hack" bit with some Java puzzlers,
which is always a crowd pleaser.
The tricky coding patterns they use in some of their puzzlers could in theory
be spotted by static code analysis tools. It is important to note, however, that for
many of their puzzlers the tool would have to analyze the source code, not the .class files (which
is what many of the static analysis tools use). So their presentation was an excellent
lead-in to a demo of Jackpot by
Tom Ball. You will
hear people describe Jackpot as a refactoring tool, but that does not completely
describe it. It provides capabilities that you do not get from standard refactoring tools,
in particular the ability to define your own patterns for the types of source code you
want found and (optionally) modified. So we are having a bit of trouble deciding
what to call it. But it looks powerful - a preview is available now to users of
the NetBeans IDE version 5.0 or higher. Just choose Tools > Update Center and
then make sure that the NetBeans Beta Update Center is chosen.
Alexis has more

The opening session was wrapped up by
Bob Brewin, Sun's chief architect for
developer tools. Bob discussed the roadmap for Sun's developer tools. The
gist of it is convergence: all tools built on the same NetBeans binary standard.
All technologies eventually available as add-ons to the NetBeans IDE. For more,
see this interview
I did with Bob a couple of months ago. Also, check Bob's
blog later this week - he said he would do an update.

At that point it was decision time. There were two tracks. Track A covered
Java ME and Java EE, including the new Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) tools
that are included in the just-released
NetBeans Enterprise Pack 5.5 preview.
Track B focused on visual development tools and on developing on top of the
NetBeans Platform.

I decided to go for Track A during most of the day. Martin Ryzl started things
off with an overview of the NetBeans Mobility Pack. He was followed by
Petr Suchomel who did an excellent demo of the visual designer in the
Mobility Pack. And Petr was followed by Martin Brehovsky who demonstrated
the CDC development tools
that were just introduced two months ago. I do not
know much about the Java ME world, but CDC apparently is a more robust
platform - support for Swing is included, etc. Martin's demo showed a Swing
application that he built with
Project Matisse running on a mobile phone.

At that point I decided to slip over to Track B and check out what was going on. This
meant that I missed out on the presentations by SavaJe and
Ricoh. It allowed
me, however, to see the last part of a demo by
Sandip Chitale. For a long time
now many of us have wanted the cool visual design tools from
Studio Creator
to be available in the NetBeans IDE. And that's exactly what Sandip
demonstrated. It is still very early-stage stuff and I cannot wait until it is solid
enough to be released into the wild.

After that I went back to Track A, which meant I missed out on another partner demo, this
one by InsiTech.
But by returning to Track A I got to see another preview of upcoming
technology: Martin Ryzl was doing a demo of the
NetBeans Profiler being used to profile
a mobile application. Handy!

During the next hour I stuck with Track A. Ludo Champenois from
the Glassfish team did a
presentation on Java EE 5 and the just released
NetBeans IDE 5.5 Beta.
Martin Adamek followed
Ludo with some cool demos of the new features that
are available in NetBeans IDE 5.5.
The focus of the 5.5 release is support for Java EE 5 and the engineering
team has delivered a pile of cool features.
Geertjan has blogged about these features
in a two part series: here
and here. Martin's demos included both the CRUD
application generation and web services.

The next hour in Track A featured Todd Fast,
Mike Frisino, and Chris Webster, all
from the Enterprise Pack team. Todd did an overview of the features in the
Enterprise Pack and then Mike did a demo of the SOA tools, which include
a visual BPEL design tool. Chris then did a demo of the XML schema tools. Both
were impressive.

It was hard to do, but I pulled myself away from Track A before Chris had finished
up so that I could go back over to Track B where
Tim Boudreau was concluding
the second hour of his presentation on how to build on top of the
NetBeans Platform.
He did a similar talk last year, but things were oh so different then. That was before
the release of NetBeans IDE version 5.0, which includes tools so powerful that even
I can create plug-in modules. :-)

Tim's second hour included a demo by Frank Waldman of Lattix. Frank showed a
plug-in module for the NetBeans IDE that integrates Lattix's
Lightweight Dependency Model (LDM) tool. The Lattix stuff looks really nice - it has a
very concise display of the dependencies in a codebase. A couple of years ago
I was put onto a legacy project that had a large body of (mostly) undocumented
source files. I ended up using JDepend to help me sort it out, but I would have
benefitted from something like Lattix LDM. (Shameless plug: I will use that
legacy project as one of the case studies in my JavaOne BOF on Thursday night at

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