Friday, 19 August 2011

Another way to be portable - part II

So, NetBeans stack (with servers) portable through DropBox - sounds quite possible. After all PortableApps can be used this way. But what's to consider first? Here's the list (it's not long at all):
  • Will the free account's box size suffice? Yes, it will, even for a full install (with the two app servers). And I guess there'll be a little bit more space for some small projects, etc.
  • What if utilize multiple platforms (Windows at work, Linux at home, and Mac on the move)? Well fortunately the IDE still has the "OS independent Zip" on the download page, but as you can see there, this option comes without the servers. The servers are completely different story, for another post.
  • And should I put the JDK also in the DropBox? If so, should it also be platform independent? Hm, friend, this is Java you know! And I think, we've already been through this :)
Maybe these are all of the preliminary considerations, so I dive in ....

Downloaded the OS independent ZIP for the latest (currently 7.0.1) version (242 MB archived, and around 470 MB extracted to a DropBox sub-folder). With my connection, it uploaded to the central server for around half an hour.
For further examinations lets name the path to the DropBox folder as DB. So if the IDE is extracted to DB/netbeans, the adventure starts from the DB/netbeans/bin folder (I believe you can easily figure out the corresponding Windows paths). In this folder there are only two files - the executables for the two major platforms. Since the IDE is configured by default to search for the java installation existing on the system, if such exists, the IDE will run. If only JRE is installed, it might run, but it surely won't compile your projects and it will complain about it. Of course, the access to a java installation can be configured, but I don't think there is a point in repeating myself. Everything said in that post still applies.
I would only add that if you use a portable JDK, you might tweak it, to make it slimmer. This means that bin, jre and lib folders will suffice. Another detail is that you might have to gather the executable files from different platforms in their corresponding sub-folders in order to be fully portable. Actually it is all a matter of taste and context. All environments that I have DropBox on are Linux, so I don't need portable JDK. In that case I only have to take care that on every environment I use compatible JDKs. For example if on Env1 I have installed JDK 1.7, the Env2 which has by default (from repositories) JDK 1.6 the projects might become in conflicted state. This might not happen for different updates of the same version of the JDK, but for a different versions of used application servers the conflict is certain. So the journey continues.

I don't know how close, but this installment looks to me similar to an IDE on the cloud. I accept every suggestion that might reduce the distance between the reality and the idea.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Another way to be portable

Few months ago I found DropBox. I almost immediately started using it as holder of some sample NetBeans projects. Its seamless integration with the host OS and immediate synchronising of the project files amazed me. These guys have done a wonderful job. I know they are being criticised about security and privacy matters, but if you get to become paranoid about your sensitive data why use Internet at all?

At first I didn't think of it as a variant of portability - actually portable are only your projects, and not the IDE. This in fact is more similar to a very simplified one-user-version-control. And for small projects I guess I would be happy with it. I would call it cloud portability, but it still would be about the projects.

And there's the idea - what if I installed the IDE in my DropBox folder? There are few drawbacks that come into my mind:
  • It would take up most of my original 2 GB quota. This is not the greatest concern - I could invite some friends or at some point I even can go for a paid account.
  • Performance. May be this is the biggest (as usual) concern. But since the IDE is copied on every HDD I installed DropBox on, it will be ran form a hard drive and not from a flash drive. This leads me to the next concern.
  • Synchronised environments. In order for the IDE to work at all I'll have to use the same classpaths for the JVM and the libraries. And may be at some point even for any servers. I know your next question - why not install everything in the DropBox folder? It seems tempting. Something bothers me here. I'm not very sure what exactly it is, but I'll figure it soon. May be the best way to find out is to just do the thing and watch it how it moves.
One thing is certain - installing the IDE will be as slow as your bandwidth. I mean, not installing it on the local hard drive, but sending it to your other PCs. Well this is not a real worry - DropBox does the transfer, not you. And if your remote PC is online, once you get there you'll might already have the IDE on it.

I'm kind of tempted to do it, but may be after some more considerations.

Significant events

I am an occasional blogger. So here is the occasion. A big one. Actually there are three interconnected events:
  1. Oracle finally released the latest (7th) version of the standard edition variant of the prominent Java programming language's SDK. The tech related part of the web is all boiling with the fuss. Use it! Don't use it! There are severe bugs in the JVM. There's nothing scary about the bugs - they'll be fixed before the JVM is adopted in production. The new syntax enhancements are great. There's not enough new features to the language. Etc., etc., etc. It's always been and will always be a work in progress - there'll always be hideous bugs lurking in the code invisible, until the rarest never-met-before conditions bring them to the light. It's OK. Bugs, features, fallacies - its' all part of producing software. Any kind of software. Even great meta-software like Java. Since the engine is here, where's the new chassis so we can utilize it for a nice smooth software development drive? Here it comes.
  2. Oracle released the 7th version of the NetBeans IDE some time before the official release of the Java SE 7 SDK, so after the first event on the list, they had to release the NetBeans 7.0.1 with the required official support. Game on! The IDE is ready for download you very well know where from. I wish it was available in the Ubuntu repositories also, but I don't think this will be an option soon.
  3. A book. You didn't expect this, right? In fact it is a very nice book about how the IDE eases the development of Java 6 Enterprise applications. I won't tell more about it right now, because I'm in process of going through it, in order to make a full review. So, with no more distractions, I'm diving back to Mr. Heffelfinger's thoughtfully organized and narrated set of screen-shots. Here's the cover to just whet your appetite:

All the three events are pretty significant for the NetBeans users. The tool of the trade was upgraded and on the other hand there is a concise source of some background information for the developers.
A review to come. See ya ;)