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NetBeans dropping ruby support – Press Pass

When it rains, I keep dry under a toadstool.

I talk with the press frequently. They thankfully whack down my ramblings into concise quotes. For those who prefer to see more, I try to dump publish slightly polished up conversations I have with press into this new category of posts: Press Pass.

Last week, John K. Waters asked me for input on NetBeans dropping support for Ruby. You can read his story from yesterday at Application Development Trends. Here’s the full response I sent to him:

I suspect that for Oracle, there simply wasn’t ample revenue or associated income from supporting ruby in NetBeans. Competition for ruby IDEs (or just editors) is tough, there’s a lot of them and many are free. Arguably, growing the ruby community helps Oracle grow the sales pie for MySQL (which they also now own), but I’m not sure that’d be big enough or a direct enough correlation for the money-minded Oracle decision makers. As the official note mentions, it’s a question of engineering resources (read: people either left, Oracle doesn’t want to provide budget, or both). And while Oracle says they’re happy for the community to carry on the torch, I doubt that will happen. IDE work is difficult, and requires much time and money, even if the final result is free.

Overall, this doesn’t mean much for the ruby and rails world. NetBeans was a nice tool, but it wasn’t the lynch-pin of success for that community. There’s a wide array of free and commercial tools out there that developers love using.

When this project started, long ago, it seemed to be part of Sun’s overall hopes that dynamic languages (ruby, python, and others) would help bring new developers and retain existing ones in the Java world. They wanted to motivate users of dynamic languages to use the Java virtual machine (VM) as a platform for their applications. Once Oracle took over, many of the developers and others on the “Dynamic Languages Dream Team” left the company, for whatever reasons.

RedMonk tends to see continues interest in rails, as well as ruby (see Stephen’s recent analysis of Hacker News language mentions for some stats drawn from one developer community). Still, languages like Java dominate the mainstream. Hosters like Heroku (now owned by Salesforce) and EngineYard (where the JRuby folks from Sun ended up at, if I recall) are finding much use for ruby and, thus, rails. There’s also much interest in running languages like Scala and other languages on-top of the Java VM.

Again, I suspect that for Oracle, the revenue from dynamic language support is less of a concern than from traditional, enterprise languages, like Java, and applications. Oracle hasn’t really been one to chase trends until they’re big money makers – see their CEO’s ongoing commentary on how “cloud is everything.” That seems to be working out very well for them.

Disclosure: is a client.

Categories: Java, Press Pass, Programming.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by cote, Evident Software. Evident Software said: RT @cote: NetBeans dropping ruby support: what's the man exactly? Check out my response in the latest Press Pass: […]