In recent years most of my work has been back-end. When I used to do desktop development, I was impressed with the ease of development when using tools such as Eclipse Windowbuilder and Netbeans Matisse. I have tried, to no avail, to find similar tools to develop web applications. My dream toolset would have the following characteristics:
- Free and open source.
- Visual design with layout management, drag and drop of components from a palette and WYSIWIG.
- Agnostic as to the back end. In other words, I do not want a "full stack" approach. My backend stack is already set (Spring) and I cannot port it to another technology.
- UI customization accomplished largely through themes, similar to Swing's pluggable look and feel.
- My background is Java, Unix, Linux, open source etc. I don't live in the .NET world, so I am not particularly interested in .NET solutions. I might reconsider if that is truly the only way to get what I want.
- As I said, my primary interest is web applications, but extra points if the toolset can develop mobile and desktop apps from the same code base.
My decidedly non-expert observation that the current state of web app development seems to fall into the following general categories:
There is a mind boggling number of choices available, but I still have not found anything that makes development as easy and fun as desktop development. I would be interested to hear what others think.