Adobe’s moves in the past year have been bold and full of larger consequences for the digital landscape, but they have been fairly easy to predict, or at least explain the day after the announcement. Adobe’s purchase of Macromedia seemed “reasonable”, and slowly the larger picture came into focus. When I first saw Flex, my thought was, that’s just Flash remoting, guys, why the big excitement? Nothing new there. Well, add the the flanking of the desktop guardians by the gates by the little pdf reader that could, in the name of Apollo, and armed with a powerful scripting language *and* access to the desktop system resources, and there is a story to be told. Microsoft’s response was neither startling, nor disengaging. It was just plain predictable. Silverlight. And in fairly typical Microsoft fashion, they will bumble onto the stage, and misstep a few times, but they have enough money, enough drive, enough money, and enough followers (did I mention money), that they will keep trying again, and again, and again, until they have a servicable product. Well, I’m not being fair, it’s not that bad every time, but it *has* gone that way a few times by my own recollection. And Microsoft will not just drop out of the fight.
Sun Microsystems gave me the surprise, with the release of JavaFX script, I can see a pattern beginning to emerge. Adobe, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems *and* anyone who does business with them has a stake in this. Sun has always been less predictable, but not as stellar in their performance in the ring. They have always had good product, just often not good fashion sense. And as the Internet becomes more of a rich media multiverse, being able to match your shirt with a nice blazer, and being able to be clever without being smarmy, suddenly becomes a necessary trait for survival.
I’m hoping the big winner in the game will be the consumer; call me a dreamer. It could happen someday. I think that the consumer will get more of a fair shake with Sun in the game.
As a sideshow amusement, the contest of the IDE’s is under way. Eclipse scored big with landing Adobe’s Flex Builder integration. Sun’s forthcoming 6.0 release of their Netbeans IDE will offer support for Ruby, out of the box. Netbeans already offers out of the box integration with the JBoss application server. And things will really heat up when Google announces their purchase of Open Laszlo for oodles of dollars (I’m just guessing this might happen, so don’t get excited). Laszlo is just starting to get settled into the Eclipse IDE.
Flex/Flash Actionscript is likely to be supported on Netbeans before too long, as the source code for Flex builder’s Eclipse integration has been released as open source (yes, the source code is out there). It would not take too much effort to port that over to a Netbeans integration, which would be nice.
I’ve been using Netbeans for Java development, and Eclipse for Flex/Coldfusion development, and they both have their quirks. I prefer the Netbeans environment for Java, as it seems well suited for it. I could probably tweak the Eclipse IDE to be more Java friendly for me, but it is hardly worth the bother. I don’t really have a strong preference overall for one over the other, but, I have had more experiences with platform instability, runaway filesystem folder replication, corrupt project files, and so on with Eclipse, so I find myself to be a little more relaxed when I am in the Netbeans environment. That notwithstanding, I still think both of the two environments exhibit their strengths.
I don’t know about JBuilder, or IBM’s IntelliJ. I’m still in the cheap seats with the low cost IDE’s.