My first two weeks at Netbeans

Greetings from Prague. I've been at Netbeans for about two weeks now and it's been quite a busy time. I think I'm really going to like it here. Everyone is very friendly, the city is beautiful, and they have excellent and cheap beer (cheaper than soda!). I know you are all busy, so for the speed readers in the group I've bolded the important bits.

So what have I been working on? For starters, I have fixed my first two bugs in Matisse: Drop target is painted on the wrong order for Flow Layout and Improve retrieval of BeanInfos. Fixing a few bugs has been a great way to learn the codebase and get to know the team. When you click on the bug links be sure to note the new look of the website. Being a fan of good design I'm very happy that the pages look so much cleaner.

So what will I be doing for NetBeans? While I will no doubt be poking my head into lots of areas, my main task is working on Matisse. In particular, I am helping to add support for the Swing Application Framework, aka: JSR 296. I was already on the JSR expert group so that made me a perfect fit to work on Matisse. I'll have another blog with details on what we are doing, but for now I'll just say that this will make the common tasks of dealing with resources, strings, and actions ridiculously easy. In particular I will be working on the new Actions support, so look for design discussions over the next few weeks.

I should mention something at this point. It's ironic that I now work in NetBeans because until the last year or so I hated IDEs. As a diehard text editor user I started with Pico, graduated to Emacs, and eventually JEdit (when I figured out that no one hacks on Lisp anymore). I never liked IDEs because it felt like the got in the way, hid important details, and didn't really let me do anything new. Debugging is what println's are for. All of that changed when I first saw Matisse, the NetBeans visual GUI builder. Matisse let me build screens that are qualitatively better than anything I could ever do with GridBagLayout or other layout tools. Not only does it make the screens look better by using proper insets, I can also produce layouts in a tenth the time. This means that I am more likely to improve the layout, taking it through several iterations and show the results to other. This is what makes it such a great tool.

After getting hooked on Matisse I began trying other features of the IDE. Refactoring in particular impressed me. I have played around with the new editor and refactoring tools coming in NetBeans 6 and I'm very excited about them. A lot of long standing problems will be fixed, and most importantly the NetBeans 6 editor will be very fast!

Well, I've got get back to work on some design docs. In the meantime I'll leave you with a few photographs from my weekend trip to Cesky Krumlov (sp?) with the NetBeans evangelist team. Since I don't want to bore you with a constant travelog I think I'll just include a few photos in each blog entry until I run out. Since I've already taken about 800 shots, I've got a lot of blogging to do.


- Josh

Cesky Kastle at night

30 feet from where Kafka lived

David and I on top of the tower

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Posted November 9th, 2006