Late on Tuesday the 27th, the NetBeans guys I was talking to in Prague had to break for a go/no-go meeting on the Beta. I said “Mind if I come along? I’ll just listen.” Of course when they went around announcing the people at the table and on the phone (NetBeans is very distributed) someone piped up “Tim Bray’s here and he’s gonna blog every word.” I won’t, but I do have some entertaining stories about the visit and the launch.
The meeting was nothing surprising, some big support files were uploading kind of slow and there was some link-checking that hadn’t been done, so a lot of the meeting was organizing how one key person who’s on vacation could check in at a predetermined time the next day to help push the button if appropriate. But boy, I was quivering; it’s a while since I’ve shipped software and I found I missed being in that kind of a room in that kind of a meeting.
Roman · I spent an hour getting an NB5 walk-through from Mr. Strobl. I thought a couple of his remarks were rather good; he was running me through Matisse and I said “I saw that at JavaOne, anything new?” He said “Yep, it doesn’t crash all the time.” Good answer.
It turns out Matisse involves a new Layout Manager for Swing and I said “did you really have to do that?” and Roman said “I suppose you might be able to make GridBag do it, but then you’d have to really understand GridBag.”
Cool & New · The new stuff has been pretty widely talked-up, but still, I think Tor Norbye’s cool 25-minute debugging plug-in is a pretty powerful statement.
The Big Picture · It hasn’t escaped the Prague gang’s attention that the management of IBM and Nokia and some other companies, as well as lots of analysts and prognosticators, and apparently all of ZDNet, thinks NetBeans ought to dry up and go away; that the Java world really needs One Big IDE. I mean, that’s good enough for Microsoft developers, why shouldn’t it be good enough for Java?
So we kicked that around a bit, and surprising though it may be to some, sometimes the analysts and executives and journalist can, believe it or not, be wrong. Remember how the Japanese were going to crush the IT world with fifth-generation Prolog engines, and NT was going to crush Unix, and Blackbird was going to crush the Web?
I don’t how this story will end, but in my opinion NetBeans has become a fucking excellent piece of software, and the world needs more of those, not fewer.