Friday, May 23, 2008

Evans Data Study: RAD scores the highest user satisfaction

It was with great pleasure that I read the Evans Data Study that was released this week; the study was a survey of over 1200 IDE users, and the bottom line was that RAD had the highest user satisfaction scores among the IDEs rated (including Oracle JDeveloper, Microsoft Visual Studio, MyEclipse and NetBeans). A survey is a survey; I have no doubt that you could find users of all of the above IDEs who are passionate supporters of their product of choice – but this survey revealed that compared to the other IDEs (and I’m quoting here) “RAD is just head and shoulders above them when it comes to user satisfaction.”

Cool; that’s what we’ve been trying to deliver, and it’s gratifying to see that our users are pleased with what we deliver.

What was most heartening to me, though, was what the survey didn’t measure; namely RAD 7.5. I think RAD 7.0 (which is the latest GA version of RAD that’s available) is a pretty darn good product, and the survey seems to agree with me – but I am even more pumped about what we have coming down the road, in the form of RAD 7.5. As I’ve discussed in this blog, we’ve had RAD 7.5 available in open beta since late last year – that code was refreshed at the beginning of May, and we’re still working on it. The fact that we were able to deliver public beta code so early in the schedule is a testament to the state and the quality of the release; we’re still adding features and function, we’re still fixing defects and improving the quality even more, and we’ve also got the benefit of lots of additional user feedback, with enough time (for a change) to do something about it. Put it all together, and I’m convinced that RAD 7.5 will be the best RAD we’ve ever delivered.

Back to the survey; results were provided giving an overall satisfaction of the different IDEs, and the various capabilities within the IDEs were also rated (how does your debugger rate, how do your web design tools rate, etc). Although we were first place in the overall rating, the RAD results in the individual areas were mixed; we did great in some places (application modeling tools, tech support, profiler, web design tools), and less well in other aspects. There was not a lot of variability in the rating for editors, all the products scored well - but in that category, RAD was in last place, for example.

That actually doesn’t surprise me, as the editors were one of the areas I was most concerned about as well – and for that reason, the editors, and the editing experience were one of the areas we’ve spent the most time and energy on, in RAD 7.5. I was presenting at the IBM Impact conference in April, and showed off some of the new features in RAD 7.5 – let me share a couple of highlights with you:

  • The various deployment descriptor editors in RAD 7.0 were attempting to abstract away the details of the actual changes being made to the underlying files – but we’ve heard from numerous customers that it’s more important to assist the developers… but still “leave them in touch” with the underlying files being updated. We have a great new editor framework (the source of several patents) that we’re using across RAD 7.5, that means developers who make a change in the editor, will have no problem know what (and where) they have changed in the actual file – but at the same time, we still provide lots of help and validation in editing the actual contents. These new editors are getting great feedback from our beta customers.

  • We’ve had a big focus on refactoring operations and quick fixes, both of which surface via editors of all shapes and sizes. Eclipse has a great history when it comes to providing refactoring operations, and RAD 7.5 really takes and extends that model; we participate in many existing eclipse refactoring operations now (for example, a rename will do the right thing across the many J2EE artifacts, as well the just the Java code), and we have added several of our own, J2EE specific refactoring operations. These refactoring operations allow us to provide significant help to developers who are updating their code, while leaving the editors to do just that – provide a good, focused, editing experience. Again, the feedback from beta users to date has been very positive on the changes we’ve made.

  • JavaScript is increasingly important in a web 2.0 world, and so we’re introducing significant new support for JavaScript in RAD 7.5 – we have a comprehensive new JavaScript editor, which we’ve integrated into all the right places; you’ll now get support like code assist, syntax validation, and colour highlighting whether you are editing a standalone .js file, or a JavaScript snippet embedded in the middle of an HTML file, while you’re using the RAD page design tools.

These are just a few examples of the changes, improvements, and new features we’ve been developing for quite a while in RAD 7.5 – and the Evans survey has simply validated many of the decisions we’ve made; if we can be number one in user satisfaction with all our old editors, I’m super confident that we’ll be able to make developers even happier, and even more productive, with RAD 7.5.

Next up for me is the RSDC conference, in Orlando – we’ll be presenting and demoing RAD 7.5 there, so come by and say hi if you’ll be there.

Tim

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who on earth did you ask? I have to use RAD on some sites and I have never encountered anyone who thinks it adds anything. I see developers opening files in notepad while using RAD.

Anonymous said...

I have never used a more frustrating piece of software. Rad 7.5 is a resource hog, please just let me use eclipse for free.

jus_another_blogger said...

RAD is definitely a resource hog, but so are all *IDEs*. You need at least 3GB RAM to use RAD comfortably. And if you just want an editor, use Notepad or Textpad/Notepad++ etc. RAD is much more than that. It is an IDE, not just an editor. I hate and love RAD at the same time.

For small things RAD is an overkill, but for complex projects, especially when you need to debug or to edit the deployment descriptors and deploy the application etc from RAD itself, it is an angel which saves lots of time and provides high efficiency and productivity. So don't crib about RAD if all you do is a Hello world! Oh and RAD guys, try to make it faster and optimized. Don't load unnecessary things and clean up after use!

If you are happy with *what* free eclipse gives you, continue using it! RAD is not for you. Eclipse is like a kids bicycle and RAD is like a Harley Davidson :P

Anonymous said...

I have used RAD 6.0 for years. I am now trying to use 7.5.0 and it is a nightmare. It hangs just trying to open a JSP. I have had to reboot numerous times and reinstall the whole thing as it simply stopped running after I attempted to update with the latest releases. Who wrote this article? Our java developers here are in a bind because the managers want to stick with IBM. NetBeans worked smoothly. IBM needs to clean this thing up.

Anonymous said...

I've used the RAD forum a few times and had my questions answered.
http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/forums/forum.jspa?forumID=430
I'd suggest you air your frustrations there (better place than on a WebSphere blog).

Completely agree that RAD's a Harley...it's the way to go if you're developing a large JEE app, or PoCs where you could use some help with code-assists on new standards. I use the code analyzers and app.server performance analysis sometimes, but yeah, too heavy for simple apps.