Dear Netbeans Development Team

Dear Netbeans Development Team;

I’ve been using Netbeans for, wow, as long as I can remember. I switched when the Kawa project folded. I loved Kawa. Netbeans felt like Kawa. It felt like home. So I stayed. I loved the interface and the power. But recently you dropped the ball on SAF support. You promised that it would be okay to use it, even though it would be dropped from the Java spec. You promised that the only thing was that it would not be updated. Maybe, someday in the future, we wouldn’t be able to create projects with it. Okay. Well I’ve been using Netbeans and SAF for a very long time, more than six years. Maybe back since 2002. Not sure. I have code that old but not sure if I was using SAF back then. Of course, if SAF was promoted as the default for new GUI projects in 2002 (it was in 2009, at least) I would have been using it.

But when you released 7.1 and included IF-statements that explicitly prohibited SAF forms from being loaded into the editor, you made a mistake; You did something you had no right to do, you tried to funnel users into migrating away from SAF into NBP (Netbeans Platform). Most of the reasons you gave for your decision were lies or excuses:

1. You said SAF (i.e. JSR-296) was being dropped from the Java Standard and therefore would be removed from Netbeans.
Ok so what is Netbeans Platform then? A JSR? It’s not even a JSR. So dropping it just because it won’t be in Java and then promoting Netbeans Platform does not make sense. If the reason is that it won’t be in Java, then how can we trust you and use NBP? It’s not logical.

2. You said SAF was not supported.
Reality #1: SAF was supported — by several fork teams. BSAF for example. It’s an extremely well known thing in the Java community, yet you failed to bring the BSAF team on-board or consider their work at all.
Reality #2: SAF was supported — by Netbeans. You actively promoted SAF and made it the default for new projects. Then you broke backwards compatibility with no warning, in reverse of previous statements you made that you would not do this. This is an EXTREMELY bad thing, for the reason I am about to tell you at the end of this list.

3. You said that Netbeans Platform was superior to SAF.
Reality #1: It’s not. I tried using Netbeans Platform from the project creation menu. It created a bloated heap of giraffe poo. Why is there a web browser in my new project, and how do I turn it off? You need to seriously think about that and why I was never able to solve the issue. You need to think about how you pissed me off as a developer. Never mind everyone else. We want the features of SAF without the bloat of Platform. Hint: My project is 300kb. Why would I upgrade it to Netbeans platform and have it quintuple in size with no visual benefit?

4. You provided no way out.
No, the “solution” in the form of an XML file which people had to dig thru a buglist to find WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE and did not work on 10-20% of files making the whole thing a pointless effort.
Reality: This was your biggest mistake. You have done this in the past with your Visual Web thingy. You have done this in the past with other technologies. Well, this time you pissed me off.
Reality #2: Sure, for people entering Netbeans today, or people PAID to do it, this is no problem. Welcome to the happy candy land of Netbeans and Netbeans platform. Well I’m not like that, and I am thru with Netbeans forever.
Reality #3: We can’t even use SAF or BSAF as standalone libraries because you put explicit IF-statements in the code blacklisting SAF. I can’t believe you did that.

How dare you do this to me.

Here’s that reason I promised you at the end of the list.

If you’re going to drop the ball like this, users are going to call you on it. You lied. You promised it was okay to make SAF forms. SAF was the default for many years. Many people who just wanted to use Swing were funneled into SAF by Netbeans, then you ripped the floor out from us. So I’ll tell you what. If I have to rewrite my projects in plain Swing, fine, I will.

In Eclipse.

And I will never, ever use Netbeans again and I will relate my story to as many people as possible.

I hope you all burn in hell.

Kongzi Beta-8 announced for June

Okay. Kongzi Beta-7 has been in classroom-use testing for about 6 months now and it seems pretty solid. A lot of changes have gone on under the hood. It’s using a database for the main type of save files now and you can merge (import) data from other files without destroying your user info. This will be tuned as time goes by, but as of now it is solid for general use.

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All the quizzes have gotten a swift kick up in power, they now don’t just present random items but will sometimes present items which are similar to the correct answer. To do this I have created an engine which analyzes the user’s expected knowledge level and searches for similar words .This works in any language and with sentences (shown below) as well as with words (shown above).

Another thing which I’ve done is add the list of test mistakes to the score screen for easy studying. The following example is from the dictionary I use to teach “Let’s Talk in English” to Chinese students.

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Once I give the manual a once-over and double check a few features on my to-do list, I’m going to have to start looking at how to package this beast.

For one, I plan to blow away the competition by offering a companion textbook with preloaded vocabulary. The MCI Chinese project (see the navbar up top) isn’t dead at all and has actually expanded with sister projects such as MCI Japanese and so forth. Here are some shots of the MCI Japanese book, “Welcome to Japanese”:

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As you can probably guess I’m really excited to have reached this point in the Kongzi project and I will be able to package and offer these materials to YOU (well, to anyone) very soon. Target is this summer, around June for a complete Chinese/Japanese/Korean package which will take you from step one to “fluency”.

Thank you for keeping patient all these years. The wait has been difficult for me, too! But it is almost ready now, for real!

Kongzi Beta News

So much work has gone into Kongzi Beta-3 I almost want to call it Beta-4. But I’ve decided to hold off just a little while longer until the Memory Game is done. Yeah, Memory Game. I don’t know a single program which has that capability – Kongzi might be the first. Check out the new Mix ‘n Match Quiz type i’ve designed. It’s similar to one of Stackz’ features:

Kongzi Beta-3 Quiz MenuKongzi Beta-3 Mix ‘n Match Quiz

Pretty cool huh? Yeah I thought so too. It’s drawn attention to the fact that I need to let the user configure his own fonts; especially because CERG Chinese/Bitstream Cyberbit don’t appear to support Japanese characters; that’s inexcusable for a program purporting to support any language natively. So that will be added in Beta-4, and Beta-4 will begin right after I finish the memory game (which is about 25% done).

Kongzi Beta-3 Flashcard Quiz

I’ve also done a lot of work on the new “Flashcard Quiz” system – which is very similar to how Stackz or Anki does quizzing. It starts by presenting a character, and you can select if you either know it or not. Or you can press space to reveal more information like phonetic or definition. I’ve allowed you to use the mouse or keyboard here – left click = known, right click = unknown. Middle button reveal information. It’s fun and fast for breaking in a new dictionary; props to Louise Brenner for convincing me to do this. I still have to take another look at Anki though. Although it’s rather limited in some ways and crashes a lot, it looks amazing and seems very user friendly – far more so than even Stackz, which is a commercial program. That being said once I got to learn Stackz it was just as fun and fast as Anki or any other program.

Also in Beta-4 I’m thinking of adding internationalization support. This would be important because the program can also be used to study English using the reverse quiz option:

Kongzi Beta-3 Configure Quiz 2

Reverse quiz is explained fully in the user manual (I haven’t uploaded the latest version yet, however). For the uninitiated, it means that if the quiz is, say, a definition based quiz, instead of the (hanzi or hiragana or whatever) appearing as the question, it will appear as the answer; and the definition will be used as the question. How cool is that?

This will allow me to beta test the program in some of the local cram schools. This feels like it could be very powerful for me; where I work there are some computers and the kids are encouraged to play English “learning” games on them like spelling games, whatever. Hell I might even get my first sales locally (I was imagining getting them on the internet). So yeah localization support is inevitable in Beta-4, I would think.

But when am I gonna let you guys taste the rainbow? I honestly don’t know. I don’t want to release a product with sucks because I’m going to be charging money for this, and first impressions count alot in this market. It’s definately almost ready though. It’s fun to use! And I feel much more secure releasing it now that I’ve removed all that netbeans actionmap garbage – it shrinks, obfuscates and optimizes quite nicely now.

I am considering making some UI changes too, like making the dialogs internal to a frame and maximizing the frame. The UI seems a little weird in that the main window never changes. Why is it there? To hold a jmenu? Hmm, a little redesign might go a long way in that department. Windows users aren’t used to this style; I think they would expect a full-screen application like msword or something, even if it didn’t have a lot of features. Maybe I will redesign it graphically similar to glGo or CGoban 2/3. Those kind of graphic menus are interesting and can look very professional.

Ehh well i’ll keep posting updates – and please do contact me if you want to beta test this software. These kongzi pages get a lot of hits (many times what my old tai chi blog would get) but far fewer comments (than the tai chi blog). I guess that’s the nature of this market.

Netbeans 6 Form Designer is Broken

I’ve been using Netbeans 6 (and previous versions) for several reasons but recently my loyalty suffered a massive blow. Simply put I had a run in with the netbeans form designer. You know, that gui builder tool they have. Don’t get me wrong it WORKS, kind of, but what happened after I tried to compress the code for distribution was a nightmare.

Netbeans 6 uses a horribly broken design paradigm for buttons. This is extended on to subclasses and related classes of buttons, such as menu items in a jmenu. What they do is they use some kind of weird reflection technique – for absolutely no reason. Seriously. What makes it worse is that they use inner classes to declare actionlisteners for things like valuechanged on a jtree or list. This is a real mind job because there is no real difference between this and declaring inner classes in the exact same way and NOT using actionmap.

In fact it could be argued that the reflection/actionmap/@action crap is inefficient from a profiling standpoint compared to using inner classes to call methods.

I mean heck – if you are gonna declare anonymous inner classes to call a function for something like a value change on a jtree why the hell would you jump through fifty hoops to use reflection to call a button handler or menu item handler? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s a bloody greyed out collapsed uneditable code block. Why not make it easy on people who will use the code with real world applications? You know like yGuard or ProGuard?

I’m currently in the process of breaking my code away from crappy Netbeans 6 form designer.

I was also pissed off how the form designer locked my code into using netbeans 6. Seriously that jdesktop stuff is GARBAGE. There is no reason why you need it. None. You have .form files for god’s sake, put any data you need in there and keep it out of my lib directory.

But now I don’t need .form files anymore. Oh, yes, I will use them to design and prototype, but the final product won’t use them.

And I swear I’m going to try out eclipse later on and I know my code will drop in compile (or should) because it won’t be using any IDE-specific libraries (!).

I miss kawa. I really do. Life was simpler.