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June 14, 2005

Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4566 days ago on June 14, 2005

Some of you may know an excellent Java IDE called BlueJ. Its focus is on teaching and it is highly regarded. A while back I wrote a feature on BlueJ for PCW; I can't now find it online, but I was delighted to receive an email from BlueJ developer Michael Kölling saying I did an OK job.

BlueJ has a feature called the Object Bench which gives you a simple, visual, UML-like class designer, along with the ability to instantiate and test the object. Now Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 has turned up with the very same feature, called the Object Test Bench. As Kölling observes, the two features are strikingly similar. According to Microsoft's Dan Fernandez, Object Test Bench was developed in response to research in the academic world. Teachers who liked the Object Bench in BlueJ said it would be great to have it in Visual Studio.

Read Kölling's post. Observe that he is not asking for money, claiming patent, or threatening to sue. He simply wants to be acknowledged. Not unreasonable. And easy to do.

Microsoft, do the right thing.

Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4566 days ago by Dan Fernandez • • wwwReply

To be fair, I'm not the voice of Microsoft (read my disclaimer), but I felt the team definitely did give Kölling credit and explicitly said that this wasn't some Microsoft innovation but rather a customer demand for BlueJ-like based on the success of BlueJ.


Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4566 days ago by Michael Kölling • • • Reply

Dear Dan Fernandez,

I read with interest your statement just here that your team gave credit and explicitly said that this is based on demand for BlueJ-like features. Can you point me to where your team gave this credit and made these statements? A search on your blog site (where you discuss this feature in detail) has not turned up anything for me.

Thanks, Michael

Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4566 days ago by Dan Fernandez • • wwwReply

Hi Michael,

I was referring to these two lines specifically talking about demand for BlueJ-like features:

"Object Test Bench, which evolved as a visualization of this functionality, was influenced by feedback from teachers who were used to working with BlueJ. The Class Designer was also a planned feature of the new “Whitehorse” functionality. We did tweak both of these features based on teacher feedback, which borrows from several teaching concepts these teachers already enjoy with BlueJ."

"...our academic customers wanted this because of the success of this BlueJ feature. "

My apologies if you don't think your getting credit, I'm just trying to relay a response and frankly give you your due credit. I don't own the feature and I'm not a "spokesperson" for it. You created an IDE with the Object Bench feature that teachers loved and that made BlueJ successful in academia which caused our (academic) customers to say that this was a must-have feature. From what I hear from the academic team, object visualization is a must-have feature for entry-level academia, and that's solely because of you. I honestly don't know what else to say.


Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4566 days ago by Cristina Belderrain • • • Reply

Hi Dan,

I've just searched for these two lines on your related blog posting. The only references I found on BlueJ are those provided by your readers and they point to Michael's article on bluej.org. Should I understand the above mentioned two lines are elsewhere? If this is the case, I would really like to know where they can be found.



Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4566 days ago by Dan Fernandez • • wwwReply

Hi Cristina,
Maybe this explains the misunderstanding, I posted about this early today at: http://blogs.msdn.com/danielfe/archive/2005/06/14/428973.aspx. Tim responded to my second post and the trackback comments is how I found this link. The quotes I mentioned in the comments above are from the second response.


Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4566 days ago by Tim Anderson • • • Reply

Dan,Maybe there is some misunderstanding as to what constitutes "credit". To me, this is more than a blog entry referencing an internal conversation. Consider the academic model, where you might have an acknowledgment in the preface, a note in the text, a bibliographic entry in the appendix. How does this translate to software? I'd have thought it must include an entry in the documentation, along with mention of BlueJ in any publicity that features the Object Test Bench. I also feel that BlueJ's developers should have received some sort of official communication, if only out of courtesy - Tim

Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4564 days ago by Roxy • • • Reply

Good grief, VS 2005 hasn't even been released yet, and some are complaining that credit hasn't been given quickly enough or loudly enough? There's plenty of time for the loud credit that you guys are demanding by the time VS 2005 is officially released.

Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4564 days ago by Tim Anderson • • • Reply

I agree to some extent. There's still time. On the other hand, Microsoft is making a lot of noise about VS 2005 *now*. Including this feature. Which appears to be a copy of someone else's work. Shouldn't that be acknowledged?

Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4559 days ago by Daniel • • • Reply

You will probably not get any official credit vom MS, beacuse that would open a really great can of worms.

Imagine they would give credit to every source of their "innovations", starting with CP/M. The MSDN would easily double in size from that :-)

But seriously, the IT-world, basically even the whole world, is based on taking good ideas from various sources and putting them together.

In this case I feel that Dan Fernandez could have pointed to the origin of the Test Bench a bit harder, but an "official" acknowledgement is very probably out of the question.

Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4551 days ago by Henk Schotel • • wwwReply

Microsoft means Microethics!



Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 4547 days ago by Lawrence • • • Reply

Not that Microsoft would ever make it public that they have copied that feature from BlueJ or would they ever care about how the World is asking them to. The point is 5 to 10 yrs down the line would Microsoft sue BlueJ for "copying" them? The World deserve to know the truth here and Microsfot should tell the truth...not something they think is the "truth".


Posted 4489 days ago by dog • • • Reply

This is BS.
Software products often "borrow" good ideas from others. There's nothing wrong with that. You guys sound like the SCO people complaining about Linux copying its ideas.

Re: BS

Posted 4489 days ago by Anonymous • • • Reply

Or do you support software patents?

Re: Microsoft copies BlueJ

Posted 3229 days ago by Warren • • • Reply

Microsoft is now trying to patent the BlueJ innovations as its own. So who's full of BS now, BS?


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