“NetBeans has always been the first IDE to support new Java and Java EE features”
It looks like NetBeans is embarking on a new journey to an unexpected destination: Apache. It 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.
In the second part of our interview series with some of the NetBeans Dream Team members, we asked David Heffelfinger, Zoran Sevarac and Aristides Villarreal Bravo 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?
David Heffelfinger: Initially I was a bit worried about the decision. However, based on feedback from Oracle NetBeans developers and fellow NetBeans Dream Team members, I’m more enthusiastic about the idea now. Potential open source contributors are sometimes hesitant to contribute to an open source project that is owned by a company, their concern being that the company takes their work and adds it to their proprietary products without giving much back to the community. Moving NetBeans to the Apache Foundation, which is a non-profit organization, will help ease these developers’ minds and make them more inclined to contribute to NetBeans.
Zoran Sevarac: It’s a great thing, and it means that NetBeans has an exciting future. The NetBeans community is very positive about this step and sees this as a logical (and good) way to proceed.
Aristides Villarreal Bravo: Personally I think it is a wise decision, there was a growing clamor from developers and companies to continue the evolution of the IDE, and that was beyond the control of Oracle to allow greater community involvement in the progress thereof. There was the fear that Oracle ceased to invest in this IDE’s improvements.
There was a growing clamor from developers and companies to continue the evolution of the IDE.
I believe that Oracle’s decision was very successful. The Apache Foundation gives greater confidence and guarantees a commitment to the communities. And I do believe it was a necessary step.
The next step is to ensure that product quality is maintained and that this will evolve in the way it has in the last years. There are many questions about its continuity as new players are about to enter the picture. As time goes by these doubts will fade, but the important thing is to ensure active participation of the community, institutions, and companies to make sure NetBeans remains one of the best IDEs .
JAXenter: In your opinion, how should NetBeans evolve as part of the Apache universe?
David Heffelfinger: NetBeans has always been the first IDE to support new Java and Java EE features, it really shines in that respect. Java and Java EE are standards, and as such, slow to evolve. Innovation usually happens in independent, external libraries (for example, JPA evolved from Hibernate and other ORM libraries, JBoss Seam was the basis for CDI, etc). A lot of these external libraries are Apache projects; what I’m hoping will happen is that NetBeans will evolve to have first class support for the wide array of Apache Java libraries available. Additionally, I would like to see improved support for Groovy, a dynamic JVM language which happens to be an Apache project.
Aristides Villarreal Bravo: NetBeans’ evolution within the Apache Foundation will depend on the level of trust between developers. I remember in the early days of the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle, I talked to Bruno Souza, and we thought NetBeans needed to be more open, perhaps beyond the control of Oracle. Apache Foundation is the best alternative right now.
I think the level of interest grew after the first announcement. NetBeans’ integration into the Apache universe relies on the support of many organizations, something that wouldn’t have been possible while it was still inside Oracle.
Apache Foundation is the best alternative right now.
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?
David Heffelfinger: Every indication is that Oracle plans to continue investing in NetBeans by allowing some of its salaried employees to continue working on NetBeans. Additionally, NetBeans is used as a base for Oracle Developer Studio, therefore Oracle has a vested interest in continuing to improve NetBeans.
I don’t think Oracle is planning to stop investing in NetBeans.
Additionally, some NetBeans developers inside Oracle have expressed their full support for this decision. For all of the above reasons, I don’t think Oracle is planning to stop investing in NetBeans.
Zoran Sevarac: Although I can understand why some people are making that comparison, I’m sure that is not the case here. As discussed on some mailing lists, both of those projects were forked before they were donated. In this case, it is supported and to some extent maybe initiated by the community.
Aristides Villarreal Bravo: For NetBeans, it’s a bit different because Oracle uses NetBeans in several major projects, and there are valuable examples of projects created with the IDE. Oracle is incorporating several of its engineers to continue their work within the Apache Foundation, which is a commitment to continue the evolution. In the case of OpenOffice, Hudson, forks were created, due to fear of not bet inside Oracle by these projects, with previous experience, NetBeans, count on much support from Oracle and with businesses and communities to work for more dynamically in the project.
Unlike OpenOffice and Hudson, NetBeans has Oracle’s support and businesses and communities are actively involved in the project.
Thank you very much!
Check out the first part of our interview series with NetBeans Dream Team members