NetBeans wins in the Open Source Category!
IBM's Cloudscape / Derby
At the 2004 Linux World San Francisco show IBM added to their already enormous list of contributions to the open source community with the announcement that they were donating a copy of the Cloudscape database product to the Apache Software Foundation. Redubbed Derby, the database is now in incubation at the foundation, meaning its development and maintenance logistics are currently undergoing some transformation to conform with the guidelines required of all official ASF projects.
While you won't see Derby powering any global e-commerce website, it's an ideal solution for running small websites, POS (point-of-sale) registers, and desktop applications. In fact, compelling Derby-based applications are already well under way, as was demonstrated by the Derby coding contest held at the recent ApacheCon. Check out the Derby website to learn more about the winners.
Other Sector Developments and Trends
Interestingly, IBM wasn't the only major IT player making moves in the open source database arena. Also at the Linux World SF show, Computer Associates announced the release of the Ingres database under the OSI-compliant Computer Associates Trusted Open Source License (CATOSL).
Another open source database project making waves in 2004 was SQLite. Reminiscent of Derby, SQLite is an extremely lightweight database offering an impressive array of features. It rocketed in status with the offering of an SQLite extension in the PHP 5.0 release, and offers a very compelling alternative to databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL for small websites.
2005 is already signalling a continuing frenzied pace in the open source database arena, with PostgreSQL 8.0 announced just a few weeks ago on January 19. Additionally, it's likely the open source database product MySQL will continue to take market share from proprietary competitors in the corporate, educational and government markets, the result of an intense development cycle and superb organizational execution of MySQL AB, the namesake company behind the database darling. Perhaps with the pending release of MySQL 5.0 later this year we'll see both of these popular databases on next year's list of finalists.
Frustrated with existing sound solutions for facilitating the development of J2EE applications, New York-based Java consulting firm Salmon LLC decided to take matters into their own hands. The result of their efforts was a J2EE-based class and tag library dubbed the Salmon Open Framework for Internet Applications (SOFIA). Standards-based, and fully integrated with mainstream development environments such as Dreamweaver, IntelliJ, and Eclipse, and J2EE servers such as Apache Tomcat and IBM's Websphere, SOFIA offers Java developers more than 40 GUI-based visual components and 20 other components aimed at speeding Web application development while encouraging sound development principles through the separation of presentation and logic.
In addition to basic presentational elements such as buttons and list boxes, SOFIA greatly streamlines the development of commonplace tasks, offering default support for calendars, data grids, trees, and tabs. Furthermore, SOFIA is very adept at code generation for many database integration tasks, and incorporates a persistence layer support. If you're regularly involved with the development of database-driven J2EE Web applications, taking the time to experiment with SOFIA could be well worth your time.
And the Winner is... the NetBeans IDE!
The Java community has benefitted tremendously from a wide array of community-driven projects that affect nearly every developmental aspect of the popular language. There's perhaps no area where the spoils of these efforts are more pronounced than IDE availability, as Java developers are faced with the difficult choice of choosing between two fantastic Integrated Development Environments (IDE), namely Eclipse and NetBeans. In fact, Eclipse walked away with top honors in the Development Tool category this year, and NetBeans garnered an even more pronounced win in this category with just over 60% of the votes. Given the wide array of capabilities offered by this community-driven IDE, it isn't a surprise to see why developers are swooning over this project. In this section I'll highlight just a few of this compelling IDE's key features:
- Cross-platform support: The NetBeans IDE is supported on all mainstream platforms, including Linux, Macintosh, Solaris, and Windows.
- Updated: The NetBeans IDE 4.0 is the first IDE to support J2SE 5.0, and is the only IDE to base its project-build system on the popular Apache Ant.
- Database Support: The NetBeans IDE supports a browser capable of viewing and editing schemas stored within a variety of mainstream database servers, including DB2, Derby, Interbase, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle and more.
- Extensible: At press time, the NetBeans site hosted over 100 contributed modules which can be used to both modify and enhance IDE capabilities. You can view a list of contributed modules here.
- Flexible: In addition to facilitating development of traditional GUI-based Java applications via a WYSIWYG designer, the NetBeans IDE supports development of J2ME wireless applications, Web applications, and Web Services.
Although not a Java developer, as a programmer I am admittedly blown away by the vast array of features offered by this fine IDE. I highly recommend that all developers take some time to download and experiment with the NetBeans IDE, as it's exemplary of the quality of work that can result from an open source project.
Other Sector Developments and Trends
There's quite a bit of ongoing exciting work in this area. A few of the particularly compelling projects are listed here should you wish to investigate further:
- Eclipse: http://www.eclipse.org/
- KDevelop: http://www.kdevelop.org/
- MonoDevelop: http://www.monodevelop.com/
In addition to several projects already mentioned in this article, it came as quite a surprise that the eagerly awaited mid-summer release of PHP 5.0 failed to make the list given the tremendous amount of press and discussion generated from the announcement. And who could deny the tremendous impact made by the Firefox 1.0 release in both the corporate and consumer environments throughout 2004? (Note: Firefox did make (and win) Development Utility of the Year). Other key 2004 developments include the release of Thunderbird 1.0, and Eclipse 3.0. (Note: Eclipse was a finalist for Technology of the Year). Of course, if anything my wonderment is indicative of the tremendous inroads open source software is making on so many levels. Perhaps we'll see an expanded list of candidates for the 2006 contest to account for an industry that's obviously in hyperdrive.
About the Author
W. Jason Gilmore (http://www.wjgilmore.com/) is the Open Source Editor for Apress (http://www.apress.com/). He's the author of Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: Novice to Professional (Apress, 2004. 748pp.). His work has been featured within many of the computing industry's leading publications, including Linux Magazine, O'Reillynet, Devshed, Zend.com, and Webreview.
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