“Companies will be less reluctant to use NetBeans and they won’t be afraid of Oracle’s decisions”
NetBeans is leaving Oracle behind in the hope that a change of scenery will help boost the number of contributions from various organizations. We talked to a few members of the NetBeans Dream Team about Oracle’s decision to donate NetBeans to the Apache Foundation and asked them if this move means that NetBeans will share the same fate as OpenOffice and Hudson.
Oracle has proposed contributing the NetBeans IDE as a new open-source project within the Apache Incubator, called Apache NetBeans (incubating). According to the official statement, “Oracle has reaffirmed its commitment to NetBeans as it transitions to an Apache project going forward. By bringing NetBeans to the Apache family, Oracle is opening up the NetBeans governance model to give NetBeans constituents a greater voice in the project’s direction and future success through the upcoming release of Java 9 and NetBeans 9 and beyond.”
In the third part of our interview series with some of the NetBeans Dream Team members, we asked Andreas Stefik, Tushar Joshi and John Kostaras to weigh in on the proposal to move NetBeans to Apache and to paint a picture of the new NetBeans which resides under the umbrella of Apache as opposed to the old one which called Oracle home.
JAXenter: What is your take on Oracle’s decision to donate NetBeans to the Apache Foundation? Was it a good idea? A necessary step?
Andreas Stefik: Overall, I think it has real potential. If the development support Oracle has traditionally put into NetBeans still exists, it could give more community buy-in given the new governance model. This could make it a lot easier for groups to contribute ideas they have to the source or to the plan.
Tushar Joshi: This is a good step for the future of NetBeans in my opinion.
John Kostaras: Very positive. Great idea. I think it will boost innovation inside the NetBeans project.
JAXenter: In your opinion, how should NetBeans evolve as part of the Apache universe?
Andreas Stefik: I think there are a lot of potential ways. In the last five years or so, academic groups have learned a lot more about how humans program, in part from explorations into the programming language wars, broadly, but also in how people are just using these kinds of development environments in practice. Also, today, with the White House’s computer Science for all movement, people are thinking a lot more about the kinds of folks we want learning programming and this is a big group.
For example, we are paying a lot more attention to how children might learn to program and there’s a lot more attention paid to people that have disabilities (e.g., motor, visual). To me, the first step in the evolution is to start having conversations about all the potential ways we could leverage NetBeans to really work for all people. Once we have those different kinds of context of use in mind, I think we can start to shape NetBeans for the future.
Tushar Joshi: Apache projects flourish because of the contributors, and NetBeans has many contributors who will get more freedom and opportunities to contribute in the direction and features NetBeans will have.
John Kostaras: Like many other Apache projects. If Oracle can devote a number of key developers and then the community could contribute to it, it would be the ideal solution. Of course, attention should be given to who should be allowed to make changes and who ‘d drive the future direction of the project.
JAXenter: There have been cases in which companies donated projects to foundations because they didn’t really want to invest in them anymore —see OpenOffice and Hudson. Is this the case for NetBeans?
Andreas Stefik: Hard to say. In talking to the NetBeans team so far, I don’t “think” that’s the case. But, the real test will be to get some numbers released as to how many developers were on the project before the switch, how many will be after, and how long the corporate agreements will last with Apache. For example, if the team doesn’t change much, but the management model is just more open then we’ve got a win. On the other hand, if it turns out that only a few dedicated developers remain, then we might have a problem. I’m optimistic, but it’s still a ‘wait and see’ for many of us right now.
If the team doesn’t change much, but the management model is just more open then we’ve got a win.
Tushar Joshi: I can’t really comment on the intentions of Oracle. What is evident from the announcements is that Oracle will be investing in NetBeans through supported developers going forward. OpenOffice developers got diverted to LibreOffice, Hudson developers got diverted to Jenkins which was unfortunate. The case of NetBeans is different and more optimistic as all the developer base and Dream Team members are enthusiastic to join as contributors to Apache NetBeans when that happens.
John Kostaras: I cannot really tell. Maybe this is one of the reasons, on the other hand, I welcome the fact that contributions are now more open and developers can drive the future development of NetBeans. Companies will be less reluctant to use NetBeans and they won’t be afraid of Oracle’s decisions. In the end, they can simply clone NB and create their own custom IDE and/or platform. I think both NetBeans and the community will benefit from this move. And in the end, you see what happened to LibreOffice and Hudson/Jenkins; they became more popular.
Thank you very much!
Check out the first two parts of our interview series with NetBeans Dream Team members