There’s a lot of debate at the moment on the merits of GUI builders, in particular Matisse – the new GUI builder for NetBeans.
I’ve heard people suggest that GUI builders shouldn’t be used and all user interfaces should be manually coded. I don’t really subscribe to this line of thought. I can’t imagine that any serious GUI is completely manually coded nowadays – thats the sort of think I used to do in the mid-90s developing Windows 3.1 software. Surely things have moved on a lot since then?
When you’re considering GUI builders, I believe you have to think about how the “other side” (i.e. Microsoft) do things. It's impossible to deny that Visual Studio allows users to create fantastic looking GUIs in a fraction of the time that it takes to develop a similar Swing GUI. I’m not saying that you can’t develop professional looking GUIs in Swing (just take a look at IntelliJ IDEA for example), but that they take a lot longer to develop in Swing. I for one, am looking forward to Matisse. I think that Java is lacking in GUI support as compared to Visual Studio and completely welcome products like Matisse.