Adam Bien's Weblog

Why Oracle Should Continue To Push NetBeans

Oracle pushes JDeveloper and Sun NetBeans. Because Oracle is about to buy Sun, only one of the IDEs will be officially supported in long term. From strategic point of view, NetBeans would be the better choice:

  1. Footprint: Netbeans 6.7.1 download (with Java EE support and 2 Glassfish versions) is 158 MB big. JDeveloper comes with about 1 GB. The initial footprint is really important for adoption.
  2. Adoption: Netbeans became very popular. In this poll, from 2,753 voters, 1,191 voted for NetBeans, 1,340 for Eclipse, but only 39 for JDeveloper (plain text editor got 103 votes :-)). Also regarding to Google Trends, NetBeans seems to be far more popular, than JDeveloper.
  3. Java FX: NetBeans has already Java FX support (at least a start). Larry Ellison officially committed to Java FX during the Java One 2009 conference.
  4. Visual Design: NetBeans comes with advanced Swing / UI / DataBinding / DataBase capabilities. It is based on JSR-296 and 295, but could be extended with e.g. Better Beans Binding.
  5. Reporting: iReport, the reporting tool for JasperReport is based on Netbeans.
  6. MySql / Oracle Support: NetBeans comes with good Oracle / MySql support out of the box. It isn't as good as Oracle's SQL Developer - but could be easily extended, or even replace by SQL Developer functionality.
  7. DTrace Support: NetBeans has already DTrace support. This, however, is only relevant, in case Oracle will keep supporting and developing Solaris.
  8. Glassfish / BEA Support: NetBeans is well integrated with BEA, even better with Glassfish.
Both, JDeveloper and Netbeans, are Swing based and modular. JDeveloper was originally based on JBuilder and prime time (a plugin system). So it shouldn't be a big deal to move existing functionality from JDeveloper into NetBeans.

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I would love to see Oracle ADF integrated with NebBeans.

Posted by BryanY on September 03, 2009 at 07:22 PM CEST #

Maybe you should take a look at some of the things that JDeveloper has and netbeans lack too before you make that call.

Posted by on September 03, 2009 at 07:28 PM CEST #

I agree wholeheartedly with Gesendet, though the right thing to do would be to see Apache Trinidad - complete with the ADF Rich Client framework (JSF) - built into NetBeans or even a plugin. JDeveloper obviously already has this integration, but I don't want to have to download a 1 gigabyte IDE for it.

Posted by Shawn Bertrand on September 03, 2009 at 08:41 PM CEST #


could you be more precise? Oracle has much better support for JSF / ADF, and NetBeans is a superb and lightweight Java EE 6 environment.
In NetBeans 6.8+ the Visual Web Pack is no more supported, so JDevelopers ADF supported would fit just perfectly into NetBeans.

The fact is: JDeveloper is a good IDE, but is not as popular as NetBeans. I really only rarely (<5 times) saw it in action in projects.

Btw. it is only my point of view. In practice such decisions are often made on golf courses :-)



Posted by Adam Bien on September 03, 2009 at 08:43 PM CEST #

I also agree with Gesendet ;-)
voll und ganz! :-D

Posted by Ramon on September 03, 2009 at 10:00 PM CEST #

But Jdeveloper UI design is better than NetBeans.
I am always using the Swing UI(Metal) in NetBeans IDE, but NetBeans UI is ugly.

Posted by hantsy on September 04, 2009 at 06:05 AM CEST #

Why not move NetBeans to JDeveloper.

Posted by hantsy on September 04, 2009 at 06:17 AM CEST #

NetBeans makes me feel butterflies in my tummy. I can't say the same for JDeveloper(which is polished as corp-ware usually is, that is, not at all nice).

Posted by Tommy on September 04, 2009 at 10:54 AM CEST #


both, JDeveloper and NetBeans are Swing apps. Changing the L&F in both apps is relatively simple. But: NetBeans on Mac OS X looks great :-).



Posted by Adam Bien on September 04, 2009 at 11:46 AM CEST #

> NetBeans UI is ugly

This is why there is an issuezilla where you can raise issues like this.

The problem is that you have to be specific and name the problem - mostly, this is just a subjective point of view, and we can hardly fix this:(...

btw: Netbeans team has UI experts who take care of this and of UI consistency...

Posted by Petr Dvorak on September 04, 2009 at 04:00 PM CEST #

To continue @64 point
Things like DB support for mysql and oracle, visual swing or Jsf and even data binding are things JDeveloper was doing even before netbeans.

You should also consider things like the integration jdeveloper has with the rest of Oracle's middleware stack from the weblogic server to the SOA suite and to Webcenter.

Posted by on September 04, 2009 at 05:59 PM CEST #

JDeveloper in many ways are nicer and faster to use, just look at the auto-import feature for instance. Also, I think this blog entry neglects the many enterprise features of JDeveloper which Oracle can not just neglect. So both will be offered for some time at least until NetBeans offers the same features - which probably will take a few years at least.

Posted by Casper Bang on September 04, 2009 at 06:15 PM CEST #

If Oracle dumps NetBeans, I would use Intellij or Eclipse before JDeveloper.

Posted by Daniel McDonald on September 04, 2009 at 07:59 PM CEST #

@Adam Bien
I know change a L&F is easy in swing application , but NetBeans can not be suitable for many themes.
I've tried JGoodies , substance , and other Swing themes, but none of them can works correctly in NetBeans, there are always some small defects which cause me back to the default Swing theme(Metal).
Yes , maybe NetBeans works well on Mac OS X.
But not everybody has a Macbook.

Posted by hantsy on September 04, 2009 at 08:05 PM CEST #

Well ... if those arguments make a good case for Netbeans?
Oracle is actually a quoted company (and even a big american one) - so what is the _only_ destination of such a company and so the only reason for a "good" argument?
Well, _MONEY_ of course, nothing else.
I don't see any arguments listed here why Oracle could make more money with Netbeans...

Best wishes, Rainer

Posted by Rainer on September 04, 2009 at 08:12 PM CEST #

NetBeans is popular because it's relatively simple, clean, and easy to get started with. It also stays up to date with a pretty aggressive release cycle.

If Oracle/Sun updates the Visual JSF plugin to use ADF, then they could potentially introduce an entirely new audience to the Oracle middleware stack.

Despite the fact the JDeveloper is a very complete and mature IDE, it's typically downloaded only by people who are already using Oracle products.

Posted by BryanY on September 04, 2009 at 08:15 PM CEST #

I am one of those people who switched from Eclipse to NetBeans. If Oracle were to drop NetBeans, I'd just go back to Eclipse.

JDeveloper may be nice (or not), but NetBeans is open and extensible. I'd say it's a much better platform to extend. So IMHO JDeveloper plugins should be ported to NetBeans and then JDeveloper should be dropped as a separate IDE.

That would save money and satisfy the most number of people. In my work teaching technical classes, I meet dozens of developers every week. Aside from those people already using Oracle products, I've never ever ever met a single person who used JDeveloper. I'd guess the market is 50% Eclipse, 30% NetBeans, 15% IntelliJ IDEA and 5% TextMate/Emacs/vi/notepad/JDeveloper/Visual Cafe/Visual J# or whatever.

Posted by Tom on September 04, 2009 at 08:54 PM CEST #

i never used netbeans with metal l&f.
GTK, vista, windows classic, mac... everything worked and looked good so far.
an old screenshot on GTK:

a new substance plugin is in progress (with some patches in the queue fixing third party l&f support).

Posted by mbien on September 05, 2009 at 10:46 PM CEST #

Hi Adam,

I am almost with you on this, but in reality JDev for Oracle to push out ADF licences and WLS server licences.. ie web projects.

Jdev does this in a VWP like editor.

NB at 6.5 with VWP was great and suddenly as of 6.7 creating a webapp in Netbeans is a total and utter nightmare.

So there is not the slightest possibility Oracle would support NB over Jdev, unless some form of visual web project is back in NB that can be extended to be sold propreitary by Oracle with ADF and WLS.

It would simply be too hard for Oracle people to create webapps in NB as it currently stands.... infact its too hard for NB people too and so much so I decided for what we need NB6.5 with VWP will continue to be used for a long while.

Posted by jamesarbrown on September 05, 2009 at 11:48 PM CEST #

Oracle is a Strategic member of the Eclipse foundation and employs committers on Eclipse projects. I'm very surprised you didn't mentioned Eclipse in this article.

Posted by John on September 06, 2009 at 07:26 PM CEST #


I heard from several sources like:, that for Oracle JDeveloper remains strategic and Eclipse tooling is developed, because of community demand.

I mentioned Eclipse - see 2. :-)



Posted by Adam Bien on September 06, 2009 at 11:29 PM CEST #

Thanks! Sorry I missed that.

Posted by John on September 07, 2009 at 04:15 AM CEST #


Though I generally like JDeveloper, there are some things NetBeans simply is way better at. Examples? Maven2 integration (which is a key fact in my environment) and support of different Java EE application servers / containers for development and deployment. Maven2 integration in JDeveloper so far unfortunately is next to non-existent, and deploying applications to, say, Glassfish or Apache Geronimo also ain't fun.

Posted by Kristian Rink on September 07, 2009 at 10:56 AM CEST #

The Netbeans team should do its homework and implement a usable WYSIWYG editor for JSF 1.2/2.0 and/or the associated component frameworks - or at least a working Facelets editor. Currently this part is completely neglected.

Posted by jiai on September 07, 2009 at 07:05 PM CEST #

I don't know JDeveloper and never heard more than the name about it. But I like Netbeans very much. It is fast and easy to use. It is one of the few examples that demonstrate how great cross-platform apps are possible with Java/Swing. Beside Netbeans now has the only credible Swing App framework after the Swing Application Framework was canceled by Sun (at least for Java 7)

Posted by aehrenr on September 08, 2009 at 12:34 PM CEST #

Cast my vote for Netbeans! Oracle is a very smart company and they understand developers' passions for their tools. I wouldn't be surprised to see them supporting both tool sets and engineering current Oracle specific JDeveloper functionality into Netbeans.

And as far as Eclipse is concerned again I would believe as I stated above, that Oracle will continue its support for it as well as push for the adoption of Oracle specific functionality into Netbeans.

Imagine the collective moan uttered by developers from around the world should Oracle do something foolish like opt not to support Netbeans.

Posted by Jeff Schwartz on October 12, 2009 at 04:46 PM CEST #

I use them both.

I find JDeveloper much more practical when working with the kind of apps I need, master-detail, CRUD and the like.

Things like drag-n-drop data-controls along with the visual editor make my life easier.

That said; The Netbeans eco-system is superb and the IDE is a joy to use.

I hope Oracle keeps Netbeans alive.

Perhaps Netbeans and JDeveloper will merge or have a child.

Posted by maxmcbyte on November 03, 2009 at 11:47 AM CET #

"Perhaps Netbeans and JDeveloper will merge or have a child."

NetDeveloper would be a cool name for a child :-),



Posted by Adam Bien on November 03, 2009 at 01:01 PM CET #

JDeveloper is a better IDE, and has been for a while. JDeveloper used to have a price tag, so it comes as no surprise that less people know about it. Because of that price tag, it was usually marketed chiefly to those who worked with/on Oracle technology.

The issue I have with JDeveloper is the complete neglect for 3rd party solutions. Last time I checked, it didn't support GlassFish, and I'd much rather use an integrated Application Server that mirrors what I'll be deploying to, than WebLogic.

They also didn't support PostgreSQL or Firebird. ADF infests the IDE at several levels, which makes it a pain to develop production applications without fear of including something that can breach a license.

Apart from that, the IDE is very feature complete, and the performance (outside of the start-up time) is good enough for me. The Swing designer is decent, the Visual JSF Designer is good. The UML designer (something most people think Developers don't like to use... Look at the Code Diagram Designer in VS Pro) is good.

I just don't see how they can't offer the same quality, that is as tightly integrated, but less coupled to their proprietary warez.

NetBeans lost me when they killed off JSE/JSC and moved the functionality to NB, then killed it off. It's as if Sun did that just to get as many people onto NetBeans as they possibly can, and then decided they had accomplished that.

It is no long the only IDE I need. I'll be trying out JBuilder again, even though my internet connection means it will take a night to download...

BTW, IDEA now has a Community Edition.

Posted by Anonymous on April 17, 2010 at 09:20 AM CEST #


Posted by franklyn on May 06, 2010 at 10:26 AM CEST #

Oracle has never developed a successful product except the RDBMS everything else including toplink, JDeveloper, Weblogic etc was bought, they are just good at marketing to make money. Vive la Glassfish and netbeans

Posted by hans schoebach on January 06, 2011 at 08:03 AM CET #

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