Dear Sun, Please drop Netbeans!

So I just went to download JDK 1.5 and the JDK download page includes a big fat image and download link for NetBeans. Why does Sun continue to develop and promote this? Internal politics gone mad?

In the corporate world, there are several rational choices for IDE and NetBeans doesn’t feature. Those options would include Eclipse and Idea for sane developers, Vim/Emacs for die-hards, BlueJ for students, and JBuilder for the marketing-influenced. NetBeans is free, but Eclipse is too and it is – how to put this delicately – better. I don’t say this with first-hand experience of NetBeans, but I do say it having consulted people who’ve used both … most people who’ve only used one IDE will tell you it’s the best, so I pay attention only to people who can make a valid comparison.

The only rational reason I can think of for a project to require NetBeans is if the project or organisation has previously been using it, and needs an upgrade. That being the case, a big inviting link on the JDK is overkill – separate page would do.

The problem with this heavy promotion of NetBeans is that it’s only going to mislead Java newcomers. They will be downloading a substandard IDE that may well be dropped at some stage in the future. Granted, NetBeans is free. But corporate users would have more to gain from Eclipse, also free. And Java newcomers would have more to learn from BlueJ. So – at the expense of some minor configuration tweaking – link to those and give Java newcomers the smoothest introduction possible.

I’m not going to get into Sun financials, but needless to say, programmers out there aren’t flinging nerfballs at each other anymore and Sun’s share price reflects that. There’s plenty of other places to allocate Java resources than maintaining a weak choice of IDE.