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Sun updates NetBeans open-source tools platform

By Paul Krill
May 12, 2005 12:00 PM ET

InfoWorld - Sun Microsystems Inc. on Monday will formally announce an upgrade to the open-source NetBeans development platform and remains undaunted by the rival Eclipse offering.

Available now, the new NetBeans 4.1 Java integrated development environment (IDE) offers improvements in Java 2 Enterprise Edition and mobile application support as well as easier development.

"One of the knocks on J2EE is that it's hard. So what we've done with NetBeans is we wanted to make it easy enough for mere humans to program J2EE" and Web services, said Timothy Cramer, director of NetBeans in the Java and Developer Tools Group at Sun, on Wednesday. Wizards and programs are offered for ease of programming.

Also a highlight of NetBeans 4.1 is automated deployment to the BEA Systems WebLogic, IBM WebSphere and JBoss Java application servers, along with debugging support for these products. Previously, NetBeans automated deployment only to the Sun Java System Application Server.

"One thing we got when we started doing our beta was a lot of cries to make sure that we did plug-ins for other application servers," Cramer said.

Entity beans, which represent persistent business objects in applications, also are enabled in Version 4.1. Java platforms supported in NetBeans 4.1 include Java 2 Standard Edition 5.0, J2EE 1.4 and Java 2 Micro Edition 2.0.

NetBeans has been gaining traction among developers, Sun officials said. The platform has had 4.6 million downloads since its inception five years ago, but one-quarter of those downloads have happened in the past six months. Sun qualifies two accesses to the platform as a download, thus eliminating casual, one-time users. NetBeans has 120,000 active users per month, based on a conservative estimate gauging users connected to the NetBeans Internet-based auto-update center.

The numbers presented by Sun for NetBeans seemingly pale in comparison with the 50 million-plus downloads cited by the Eclipse Foundation for its Eclipse open-source platform. But Sun officials are skeptical of the Eclipse number and have no plans to either merge NetBeans with Eclipse or to step aside in favor of Eclipse, Sun officials said.

"Not even close," said Sun's James Gosling, a Sun vice president and Sun fellow, when asked about Sun yielding to Eclipse. In addition, Sun will not join the Eclipse organization, a move that had been speculated last year.

NetBeans is easier to work with than Eclipse and has been used for building applications ranging from cell phone systems to enterprise and desktop applications, Sun officials said.

The Sun executives also expressed doubts about whether the Eclipse Foundation actually is independent of IBM, which founded Eclipse but spun it off intoa separate organization last year. The Eclipse Foundation was asked prior to InfoWorld's meeting with Sun Wednesday to make a general statement of its perspective on NeBeans, but declined.

The new version of NetBeans will be downloadable at

Sun at the JavaOne conference, which begins on June 27 in San Francisco, is expected to talk about release dates for the planned J2EE 5 release. Version 5 continues a focus on Web services. In addition, new developer communities and programs for the Web site will be revealed during the second week of June.

Reprinted with permission from InfoWorld. Story copyright 2012 InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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