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To: Stuart Howard <stuart.g.howard@...>
From: "Peter B. West" <lists@...>
Subject: Re: Startup advice
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2006 15:02:39 +0000
Stuart Howard wrote:
> Hi
> 
> I am a Gentoo user with an urge to try my hand at coding, java seems
> to fit the bill as a language that has cross platform appeal and so
> on, you guys know the rest.
> 
> My question is this, I want to spend my time learning the language not
> the various apps that allow me to do this so what would your
> recommendation be for a new starter such as myself.
> I seem to have a choice of using either blackdown or the sun packages,
> I have read sufficient to realise that the blackdown project was the
> original linux port of Sun's Java but Today what would you suggest as
> the platform to pick ie. is the Blackdown package well supported under
> Gentoo? will updates come promptly when considered stable? or the the
> Sun package better supported? and for that matter as a new user would
> I be better of with one or the other for a reason I have not yet come
> too?
> Next up would be an IDE, is Kdevelop good for java or is netbeans a
> good choice? again your experiance would be helpful at this stage, the
> netbeans site seems to imply that they provide functinality not
> available elsewhere will this mean that my code [once I get there ;) ]
> be specific to netbeans? or should I go for a fundamentalist approach
> and stick to "simple" approach and trusty vim?

Use an IDE. I haven't seen any responses so far indicating that NetBeans 
is *not* supported on Gentoo, but there were difficulties with it 
earlier on. There has recently been much ado about providing Java 5.0 on 
Gentoo, but again, I don't know the current status.

When I was using Gentoo, I installed all of my own Java, because I need 
a Java 5.0 environment, and NetBeans. I recommend you ask specific 
questions about these topics. I further recommend starting and staying 
with Java 5.0.  It is the single most far-reaching extension to the 
language, and it is the future of Java programming. Get used to 
generics, typesafe enums, extended for loop functionality, autoboxing, 
etc., and don't look back.

I was an Eclipse user until I switched to J5 something over a year ago. 
At that time Eclipse did not support J5, so I switched to NetBeans 4.0. 
NB 5.0 is at release candidate stage now, and is a significantly better 
than 4.0. The new GUI builder, Matisse, offers  new layout manager, 
which you will have have to distribute with applications if you use it. 
Alternatively, you can opt for the standard Java layout managers, like 
GridBag. As with most (any?) GUI building tools, if you need round-trip 
design, you will have to preserve the tool settings in the code, and 
preserve any ancillary files; form files in the case of NetBeans. By 
round-trip, I mean the ability to use the designer to build the code, 
modify the code (possibly in another IDE), and re-open the code in the 
original GUI designer for modification.

When I switched to NetBeans, Eclipse did not support Swing, the 
Java-provided higher-level GUI classes. If you wanted to build Swing 
apps, you were on your own. Eclipse had SWT, its own windowing toolkit, 
with closer links to the underlying operating system.  You will have to 
ask an Eclipse aficionado about the implications of that for 
portability, but I imagine that you will need to carry some SWT library 
functionality with your apps. Again, ask an expert about the current 
Eclipse situation.

NetBeans supports web and J2EE app development out of the box. I believe 
that Eclipse requires various plugins to achieve similar functionality. 
NB is available as a platform on which to build applications. I assume 
that same is true of Eclipse, the difference being that your GUI apps 
built on NB will be Swing based.  See the Java API docs for the 
javax.swing.* packages.

Since 4.0, NB has been completely re-designed to align the product with 
Ant. The build, run, debug and Javadocs build functions of all projects 
are based on Ant. That includes projects with existing code, and 
projects with existing code and an existing build.xml script, which was 
my case. This provides tremendous development flexibility, especially 
for projects imported with an existing build.xml, but also for new 
projects built by NB. The former can generally be built by other 
developers without NB. The latter require a little more tweaking, but 
the process has been carried out and discussed on the mailing-list.

No, I don't work for Sun. NetBeans provided the support I needed for the 
development of J5 and Swing based open source software, when I needed 
it, and I like to acknowledge that.

Peter
-- 
Peter B. West <http://cv.pbw.id.au/>
Folio <http://defoe.sourceforge.net/folio/>
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References:
Startup advice
-- Stuart Howard
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