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Friday, 16 September 2016

Oracle's ceding of Netbeans to the grand Apache Project - The perspective of an early adopter

Background: Oracle has decided to discontinue its interest and ownership of the Netbeans IDE.
It has therefore released the Netbeans product to the Apache Software Foundation.

Netbeans was the development tool that officially accompanied the Java programming language since 1999 when it was acquired from it original student-project owner.

Indeed, Netbeans has been the favourite programming tool (IDE) for many Java enthusiasts and programmers over the years.
The popularity of Netbeans is especially because of how it facilitates speedy coding and an almost zero effort at configuration to have one's code running - most times.

I started using Netbeans late 2004 when it was version 4.0 - introduced to me by one Solomon Apenya.

The latest event of Oracle tossing Netbeans to the open-source community may appear good (though already Netbeans had a CDDL/GPL license which made it somehow open-source). Nonetheless, it also now reveals a great deal of Oracle's mostly strict commercial agenda and allegiance to its "natively-built" products e.g. JDeveloper IDE.

In 2010 when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems(Sun), a company with alot of goodwill back then, industry-watchers have been curious from day 1 about the fate of some of the products that Sun carried along and sponsored.

Oracle, upon the acquisition of Sun, clearly was only interested in 3 main cash-cow products with accompanying patents: the Java platform, Solaris and the SUN hardware range (Sun SPARC processor now powers Exalytics Servers).
The MySQL, Glassfish, OpenSolaris, OpenOffice, SunSPOTS, OpenSPARC and other Sun Microsystems sponsored products and community forums were either disbanded abruptly or "dropped nicely and slowly".
Oracle was determined to keep only the hens that will lay the golden eggs for it. Larry Ellison and his team gradually phased out all the "apparently non-profitable" products - forgetting that such products amounted to "goodwill" which in itself is an asset to a company.

The founder of Java, James Gosling, has endorsed this latest decision of Oracle since he early on sensed a lack of commitment from Oracle for the progress of Netbeans and its user community.

Beside the multitude of new open frontiers and opportunities that this decision of Oracle presents to Netbean's trajectory, there's one big downside  :(
Netbeans will surely loose out on the PROOF-OF-CONCEPT that it has always been used for by the managers and innovators of the Java platform.This means that Netbeans will not be the IDE that the "Java makers" will use to showcase any new technology feature that will be developed - it appears JDeveloper will rather be the port of call for the showcase of any new feature from the Java Community Process.

It will be unfair to Oracle not to mention some very excellent free-to-use tools and technologies that it makes gracefully available for the benefit of we all.The Oracle ADF framework, Oracle Service Bus and other APEX/SOA/Middleware tools are prime examples.

It is noteworthy that Netbeans is in very safe hands henceforth. It will be "babysitted" by the Apache Software Foundation, a non-profit organization that has nursed many very popular open-source projects e.g. the renowned Apache HTTP server.