Netbeans Platform: Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good

The Netbeans Platform is incredibly simple to get started with. There are extensive tutorial based guides to get you started, like this tutorial about creating a CRUD application with zero code, or making a paint app, and videos too, not to mention Geertjan's Blog which goes into many advanced examples. If you're using the Netbeans IDE you also get a huge assortment of wizards to help you along with various annotation-based integrations. The wizards have excellent ANT support and pretty good Maven support as well. There are many advanced features in the box from window management, plugins, configurable key-bindings and an auto-update framework.

The Bad

When you want to do something advanced which isn't covered by a tutorial, you quickly need to roll up your sleeves and dig into the source code. For example, if you choose to migrate from the default ANT build to Maven, this guide is lacking if you aren't very familiar with Maven. Or even if you used the built in Maven wizard, there is no documentation that you need to run with the deployment profile to build the installers (if you're stuck on this one, it's "mvn package -P deployment"). Another big pain point for me was trying to create actions at runtime with localization which also showed up in menu's, this took lots of research before eventually creating a custom service, and they still didn't work for all cases. Even integrating my build with Jenkins was a headache.

The Ugly

When you're finished with your application, you still have a Java application. No matter how convenient and productive the language is there is still a strong bias against Java on the Desktop, and that bias doesn't seem to be going away (maybe JavaFX with native bundling will help sway people). Until it's easier to bundle your Netbeans Platform application with a native look and feel that bias isn't going anywhere.


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