The free software age is all about giving the freedom to choose: flexibility to choose the best out of a variety of almost-the-best software is one of the hallmarks of this era. On the flip side, a newbie to this world often faces a choice overload. Should she go for Fedora or Ubuntu or Debian, GNOME or KDE, NetBeans or Eclipse, Open MPI or Open MP or PVM? We have loyalists on every side swearing by their product--and they are not wrong. It is tough to make a choice. However, with time, based on usage preferences, a choice is made and she finds her favourite distro, development tools and the like.
At the moment, two IDEs are dominant in the free software world: Eclipse and NetBeans. Being a NetBeans fan (and part of the NetBeans community), I will explain why in my opinion it's NetBeans is a fantastic choice.
Eclipse is a project focused on building a free (as in freedom), extensible development platform, runtimes and application frameworks for building, deploying and managing software across the entire software life cycle. Many people know it as a Java IDE, but Eclipse is much more than that. The best place for more about Eclipse is of course http://www.eclipse.org
Many people know it as a Java IDE, but Eclipse is much more than that
The NetBeans IDE is a free (as in freedom) IDE for software developers. The IDE runs on many platforms including Windows, Linux, Solaris, and the MacOS. The NetBeans IDE provides developers with all the tools they need to create professional cross-platform desktop, enterprise, web and mobile applications. More on the NetBeans IDE is available at http://www.netbeans.org/products/ide/
Both Eclipse and NetBeans were primarily targeted at Java developers with C/C++ support as well. With time, however, more and more languages were supported by each.
Eclipse "Europa" now officially supports C/C++, Java, PHP; there is some external support in the form of plugins for Python and Ruby.
On the other hand NetBeans, which was released recently, supports C/C++, Java, Ruby officially among a host of other languages such as Groovy. PHP support is being worked on and Python support is on the cards as well.
Whether you are a Java or a Ruby developer, there are enough reasons to switch to NetBeans. Here are the most important ones (http://www.netbeans.org/switch/why.html):
A NetBeans plugin is available which allows you to import your existing Eclipse projects into NetBeans and continue working from there. There is also a relatively new development, the NetBeans Community Docs sub-project EclipseToNetBeans, which is going to be the entry point to hands-on style documents showing you how to import Eclipse projects of different types,size and complexity into NetBeans.
If you are not convinced, hear some real stories of real "switches" here.
If you are convinced, join the NetBeans Community. Find out more at http://www.netbeans.org/community/index.html
With this short entry, I have surely joined the great Eclipse-vs-NetBeans debate. It's a free world, and I am talking about free software: I am definitely not ashamed of my views. Bouquets and Brickbats are welcome!