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EarthWeb: The NetBeans Open Source Story

Jan 23, 2001, 22:30 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by David Fox)

"Many people have their eyes on NetBeans as a possible indicator of whether Sun will embrace open source for other Java products, or even components of the Java language itself."

"One of the most interesting places where open source and Java technology overlap is a little integrated development environment (IDE) known as NetBeans. NetBeans' path to open-sourcedom was a circuitous one. In 1996, a group of Czech students set out to author an IDE in pure Java. The idea was to take the best features of Delphi and create an easy-to-use, cross-platform environment where code could be edited, tested, and debugged. They called their software Xelfi."

"Enter Czech entrepreneur-engineer Roman Stanek. Encouraged by meeting with Internet visionary and venture capitalist Esther Dyson, Stanek was on the lookout for a good idea to capitalize on. He stumbled across the Xelfi group on the Web, struck a deal with the developers, founded NetBeans with his own money, and then received funding from Dyson."

"The company remained lean, releasing several versions of the IDE and supporting the latest in Java technology, such as Swing, Servlets, JDBC, JavaServer Pages (JSP), and XML. The IDE was built to be compact, robust, and easy to use and install. Sales offices were opened in Silicon Valley. But the company was hard-pressed to turn big profits, given the economics of software tools and Java's client-side behavior. Because the product was written in Java, it was slower and required more memory than native-code IDEs. Also, other development tool vendors - most notably Microsoft - could afford to give their products away cheaply, or even for free."

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