Jeet Kaul, VP Developer Products
Mature, easy to use, feature-packed, and free -- what more could a developer ask for? How about support for EJB 3, comprehensive web development, and a powerful, built-in Swing designer, plus oodles of plug-ins? NetBeans 5.5 runs on Windows, Linux, Solaris, and the Mac OS, and won the praise of our judges for the depth of coverage in its feature set and its improved and usable interface. Its incremental improvement over Version 5.0 was a significant leap forward for the product, and this placed it ahead of its very worthy competitors in this category. Several judges confessed that their long-time allegiance to other popular IDEs was being seriously eroded by this version of NetBeans.
In the Enterprise Java realm, NetBeans was a clear winner with support for Java EE 1.3, 1.4, and 1.5 standards for EJB and EE Web Services. Web Development with JSP, Struts, JSF and Ajax-enabled JSF components is fully supported through the Web Pack Add-On. Additional Add-ons are available for mobility development; an Enterprise Pack for XML, BPEL, and Java web services; an excellent Developer Collaboration feature; a Profiler for memory, CPU and thread monitoring; plus UML Modeling, and a C/C++ pack.
If you are not familiar with NetBeans, the website at www.netbeans.org caters to getting you up to speed fast with useful tutorials, articles, and samples. You can access all of this support documentation directly from the NetBeans Help menu. The bundled sample projects in the NetBeans download are another great source for understanding the projects that NetBeans supports, and a very useful introduction to using the IDE. And in a most refreshing deviation from what is found in too many tools, let it be known that the NetBeans Help Contents function is actually helpful.
Great design and an intuitive ease-of-use always generate a strong response. The fervor of Apple Macintosh users is a well-known example. So is the loyalty expressed by users of IntelliJ IDEA for their favorite IDE. Ask them what they like about it and they'll most often say "It just works as you expect." This might not seem like a significant accomplishment, but its crucial -- not only in learning the product the first time out, but when wandering into new areas of functionality. Take your best guess: In most cases, you're likely to be right. Beyond this excellent design, IntelliJ also integrates one of the most detailed code checkers available. It has the additional advantage that it runs in real time, so objections are flagged as you type and errors can be corrected immediately. Beyond that, the IntelliJ is very responsive, has an advanced debugger, and a wide range of plug-ins that permit easy integration with source-control managers, build systems, and continuous integration packages. Through and through, a terrific product.
The .NET Common Language Runtime cannot host a dynamic language with any kind of performance. This was Jim Hugunin's thesis for the initial development of IronPython, which he developed as OSS. A funny thing happened on his way to proving it, though. He found that with reasonable care for code generation, the CLR was a more-than-capable platform for such languages. Microsoft hired Hugunin to both bring IronPython to fruition and to work with the CLR team in order to make the platform even more capable for this class of language. It's actually difficult to say which of IronPython's characteristics are most significant: the implementation itself, it's continuation as a shared-source example of a more-performant dynamic language on the CLR, or its position as a harbinger of dynamic languages to come on the CLR. Let's go with the first: For many .NET programmers, the interactive development possible with IronPython will be a revelation.
Once you've used Mathematica, you will get a thrill of anticipation any time the prospect of using it again arises. The calculation kernel is both insanely capable and does arbitrary-precision numerical calculation with often-dazzling speed. While the "Workbook" front-end is one of the greatest IDEs ever invented, it's not well-suited for integrating the calculation kernel into larger applications. Enter Wolfram Workbench, which brings the power of Mathematica to Eclipse and, thus, the larger world of development. Naturally, those using Mathematica in conjunction with Java are the most likely to embrace this product and for such programmers, Workbench is an absolute must-have. If you work in the sciences, mathematics, or some engineering sectors, you probably already know the power of Mathematica. Otherwise, you owe it to yourself to find out. The only downside is that once you discover Mathematica, you will always be saddened when a project doesnÕt use it.