Given up on Eclipse, now with NetBeans

I write most of my code using vim. This winter, Kamel made me discover Eclipse.

I dislike IDEs in general because they have a tendency to force me to work in certain ways that are suboptimal. For example, if I need to remember to go to menu X and set option Y to build my project correctly, then that is simply not portable. Everytime I will go to a new machine, I will need to remember these precise steps. Moreover, if I cannot build my code without a GUI, then I cannot test my code on a remote machine under low bandwidth conditions. Finally, IDEs tend to do several operations silently and when things go wrong, you have layers and layers of abstraction before you can correct the problem.

However, Eclipse allowed me to import my project using subversion and use my very own Makefile! What a great idea. And it worked too!

Up until two days ago. For some reason, Eclipse stopped building my code. Hitting the “build” button simply does nothing. I never changed anything in the settings, but playing with the options did not help. I have no way of knowing what went wrong and after hours spent on the Web chasing the problem, I gave up.

I just downloaded NetBeans, and surprise, surpise! There is a C/C++ NetBeans that will use your makefiles too! Wow!

Not everything is rosy however:

  • Under MacOS NetBeans is much uglier than Eclipse. I guess NetBeans must be using Swing or some other horrible Java GUI system. It really feel like a cheap application.
  • NetBeans was unable to detect my subversion binary. It allowed me to tell it where to find subversion but I had to reboot the application for this setting to work! What?!? Eclipse worked right out of the box with subversion.

My main concern is just how ugly and unprofessional NetBeans look. In comparison, vim is great looking! Sun software people need to learn a thing or two about design.

Daniel Lemire, "Given up on Eclipse, now with NetBeans," in Daniel Lemire's blog, July 31, 2008.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

4 thoughts on “Given up on Eclipse, now with NetBeans”

  1. Without going into details (that would make a huge blog post of its own), Eclipse is so much better than NetBeans, at least in the Java arena (can’t speak for C/C++), so it’s probably worth fixing up Eclipse.

  2. As someone who has just started working with a huge code base, I must say that an IDE can be very useful. The ability to find definitions and display them in short order is very helpful when you have hundreds of classes. (That said, we also have a command-line build system that we use.)

    Eclipse has its quirks that I don’t care for, but all in all, it hasn’t been that bad. The editor needs work, I think.

    I find Eclipse to be rather ugly under Mac OS X and just as ugly under Windows, but perhaps I am spoiled.

  3. I’d be curious to know what specifically you find ugly about NetBeans on Mac OS. I wrote a lot of the UI delegates in NetBeans back in ’04, and put a lot of effort into making it look Mac-like, get the keybindings right (Command, not Ctrl).

    It’s not perfect (I’ve got some patches locally to improve things but not sure if they will make it into 6.5). Specifics of what you’re looking for or what you find objectionable would help prioritize things.


  4. Well… NetBeans is quite usable (even under MacOS) and I am very happy about it. I have now switched to it exclusively… but the look is not right. It may require a *lot* of work to get the look to be just right and I would certainly be unable to get it done (I have given up on trying to design GUIs myself).

    I think most MacOS users expect the toolbar to look something like this:

    I am fine with variations, for example a Windows-look… or a Motif look if we must… But the “rounded watery blob” is just not used in MacOS apps I see…

    This is not a major issue but it lowers adoption for sure.

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