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Letter to the Editor

September 30, 2003

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To: Daniel H. Steinberg
From: Andy Freeman




Editor's note: We get plenty of email with suggestions or feedback about java.net. With this thoughtful letter from Andy Freeman, we begin publishing some of these letters to the editor. Andy's thoughtful note brings up a number of important points, and his suggestions should spark a nice discussion in the Talkback section below. I thanked Andy for his letter and asked for permission to print it. Many of his suggestions are already in the queue, which (as I explained to Andy) doesn't always move as quickly as we would like. Here is Andy's unedited original letter and a follow-up response to a question I asked him. Send your letters to me at .

I am writing this email to thank you and your team for your efforts on that Java.net website. It has been interesting to watch the incremental improvements in the site since its initial launch. Overall, I think the changes have been good. I especially like the changes that have been made to the site navigation and the blogs. As for the bad, I have to say that I am somewhat disappointed by the lack of follow-up marketing that has occurred since JavaOne. Basically, I would like to see the java.net website truly become the portal for Java.

For the future, I would like to see reviews of all things Java. What I mean by this is I want a central place to get the answers to Joshua Marinacci's post Too Many Ways (http://weblogs.java.net/pub/wlg/477). I would like to see teams evaluate the various web frameworks in existence and rate them. It would be interesting to see some full blown example applications with these applications that demonstrate the best practices of the week. Heck, why not even review the various libraries of the various Java specs? Open the JCP to java.net users.

I would also like to have reviews of the JDKs themselves. Post the good, bad, and the ugly of the various vendors JDKs. Again, it would be nice to have a central place to evaluate performance, compliance, ease of use, monitoring, etc. Make it easier for developers to choose the right tool.

It would also be nice to have a review of the various tools available. If ant is the de facto build tool that people should be using, why is it that so many people still don't know about it? What do people like about IDEA versus Eclipse? Which one has the better web development features? Etc...

I would like to see more of an integration between the java.sun.com website and this site. Bring the forums from forum.java.sun.com to java.net.

I would also like to see content like what is out on the
http://javaalmanac.com/ website integrated with this site. Again, central place to go.

It is nice that Sun has provided blueprint applications for the J2EE world but what about the J2SE world? I am yet to see a good, full blown example of how to build a J2SE application. Could it be that AWT and Swing are too hard for even Sun developers to build a good application? Joshua Marinacci's closing comment was along these lines.

As I commented on the Swing Forum, http://forum.java.sun.com/thread.jsp?forum=57&thread=447450, why aren't there contemporary controls included with Swing/AWT? What is the GUI direction of 1.5? I know there are plenty of bugs with the existing controls, but why shouldn't I be able to easily create an application that looks as good as CleverCatus (http://java.sun.com/products/jfc/tsc/sightings/S17.html) in Java without having to code everything from scratch? I would like to see the day that developers WANT to develop a GUI in Java over .NET. Right now, outside of a tool like http://www.swt-designer.com/, I haven't seen any really good tools for building Java GUIs. The bottom line is not everyone can build a GUI unless they have a tool.

Anyway, just my .02 on "All Things Java." :)

Andy

Editor's note: In my follow-up note to Andy, I asked him how he might accomplish some of his goals. Here is a piece of his answer.

For one, start with something simple like a series of surveys. Make it obvious you WANT the communities support and guidance. The javadesktop site says: "Tell Us What to Do!" Requests like that need to be made more visible and higher up in the site nav. People need to see that the site is legit and the motivation behind it is real. The mood that I have gotten from blog posts since go-live has been "Yeah right!" The vision statement is okay, but why not have a roadmap that shows goals and the completion of those goals? I am thinking something
simple like the roadmap on the registered side of MyEclipse (http://www.myeclipseide.com/index.php?module=ContentExpress&func=display&ceid=6).

Let people see that progress actually is being made to get things done... news articles detailing the changes are fine but they disappear.

A simple change... Make the breadcrumbs on the community pages so that it is more obvious how you get back to java.net.

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