Eclipse VE – not impressed

In this short Flash demo, the narrator (watch out Roman, you have competition!) shows GridLayout support in the soon-to-be-released 1.1 version of Eclipse Visual Editor. This layout is nice, but its limitations are well known – no component overlap, normalized component sizes, insensitiveness to preferred sizes, etc. It just does not make the cut for form-based layouts.

Yes, I realize, that I’m looking at a “framework for creating GUI builders for Eclipse”, but even if you add the Foam GUI builder to the plate, it’s not open source and not free as what NetBeans will provide in its 4.2 version later this year with Matisse. I guess this is another illustration of the “batteries included” approach of NetBeans – there’s just a lot of features in the core product. I find it better, some will find this to be “different”.

For those that still haven’t seen the Matisse demo, it’s here and it’s available today in development builds.

Anyhow, everyone has still a lot more work to do, and it’s very nice seeing references made to NetBeans innovation. Competition is a good thing.

(Since EclipseZone uses the Matisse catch word, I felt I could comment on
Eclipse Visual Editor, but at the same time I know some people will still see this as bashing. Oh wow…)


Author: alexismp

Google Developer Relations in Paris.

21 thoughts on “Eclipse VE – not impressed”

  1. I’ve seen the demo this morning. We were the innovators with narrated flash demos, too ;-) Seems that we’ve moved the bar quite upwards.

  2. @Alexis:
    There’s no talk about adding the commercial Foam to Eclipse VE.
    About Netbeans “innovation”, Foam has been here before Matisse has been hyped up… so I’d call this more of a “Microsoft”-type of innovation…
    You might also notice that the VE GUI building support adds absolutley NO dependencies (like the Matisse layout manager) to your project; at the moment VE provides a high-level tool for GridLayout, something that will be enhanced to other layout managers in the future.
    Another point of view:
    You might want to look at the VE screencasts, which have been going on since 2003/2004:

  3. There’s not such thing as the “Matisse layout manager”, but rather an LGPL manager that will be part of a future version of the JDK. It is the first “standard” layout build with tools in mind IMO.

    I think Matisse is set to do better than Foam whose design process is still a little too complicated (large number of possible relations between components) and alignment is still hard to achieve.

  4. Guys, don’t get too exited with yourself and Matisse. Eclipse will beat you very quick. Considering how long did it take to implement these new feature for VE 1.1. Notice that it is working with source code directly and using a standard layout mamager as opposed to Matisse. :-P

  5. Alexis, VE provide a complete source code roundrip. It can open Java source with form in a visual editor and then incrementally update the source with the visual modifications. As far as I know Matisse require its own proprietory design-time form definition which is not quite as flexible for manual intervention.

  6. As it stands, you’re right about round-trip, but the truth is in the code, no other artifact needed. You can reuse what I do using Matisse in Eclipse ;-)

  7. I could, but once code is changed I can’t use Matisse anymore, so what is the point to bother at the beginning? :)

  8. I said that I would use Matisse… ;-)
    I you really break things, I might have to join you and go back to editing by hand, which afterall remains a valid option when designing GUIs (any tool is only so good).

  9. eu: But with NetBeans you can still use standard layout managers like the GridLayout. So people can be happy using Matisse or not. I’m sick of people religiously defending one tool. By the way, I’m an Eclipse user but there is no way I will ever use VE.

  10. Romain, correct me if I’m wrong but all fancy Matisse features only work for that proprietory layout and nof for GridBag. It aslso doesn’t help at all with an existing Java code or afther generated code had been modified. Is it?

  11. Alexis, if it is not in JDK 1.4 or 1.5 – it is proprietary just yet. :-)
    Romain, I wasn’t aware that Netbeans form designer can actually show graphical form gesigner for a form source.

  12. Alexis, if it is not in JDK 1.4 or 1.5 – it is proprietary just yet. :-)
    You’re playing with words. Can I call Eclipse, SWT or JFace proprietary? The difference here is that the new layout doesn’t reinvent the wheel and is set to be part of the standard distribution. You just can’t make the change retroactive, hence the open source license for use with previous Java versions.

  13. So what? You have to admit that there is no invention with Matisse, just a right placed marketing message and few fancy demonstrations. :-)

  14. So why do you keep saying Matisse is not innovative? All your arguments so fare just make me think you didn’t try it and therefore I can’t trust your judgement on it. Anyway, I’m getting tired of this discussion.

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