Community One, a shock about NetBeans, and a dose of humor
I actually ended up spending a lot of time in the NetBeans sessions yesterday (much to my own surprise). The first demo that impressed the hell out of me was Josh Marinacci's demo at the end of the NetBeans 6.0 general session. He did a demo where he built a quick web services / local database Swing app using Matisse and the Swing Labs mapping component overlaying points on various maps a la GoogleMap integration. Basically, these guys at OpenStreetMaps.org have a user generated set of maps submitted by bikers and joggers who upload their annotated GPS routes to generate super accurate and up to date street maps of cities. It's crazy that someone built that - but what's crazier is that it works! I met up with Josh later, and a couple of other people who were discusing using the mapping components to overlay spacial locations of wikipedia entries and an annotated view of major historical ancient world events. Naturally, I suggested that if we have a way to see ancient European events, we should not only tag those events on the map, but also every Monty Python and Mel Brooks sketch that ever made reference to those events. Remember, we're a bunch of geeks. It is required to reference Monty Python at least once an hour.
Alright. So the mapping stuff was slick, but I had an overwhelming thought when I watched the rest of the improvements discussed in the session - Beans Binding, the Swing application framework, etc. Now don't get me wrong, I'm really glad all of this stuff is there, but it's just late for me. I've been coding Swing since it came out. We're closing in on a decade, and now some of the basic stuff like BeansBinding is finally getting done. C# came out of the box with it a few years ago already, and don't even get me started on SmallTalk. Either way, I'm super glad it's being done, but like, come on guys.
I wanted to wrap up with the single thing that floored me the most yesterday... full Ruby on Rails support in NetBeans. I mean damn, damn, damn, damn! (That was four damns for anyone who wasn't counting). I've been doing rails development for over a year now in TextMate and Locomotive on the Mac. But that's far from an IDE. Tor and the guys working on this look like they really nailed it. They demoed it live - with native Ruby and JRuby - showing code complete, Ruby documentation, method browsing, context sensitive rename and... god help me, a killer debugger that not only debugged the Ruby code but also the RHTML (!) code. I can't tell you how many hours of my life are going to spent loafing rather than debugging my rails apps. I talked to Josh Marinacci again after this session and apparently with Java 1.6 and full fledged scripting support, they decide to put some serious effort into netbeans to support it. Seriously guys, mad, mad props on getting this done.