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By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2006-07-25 Print this article Print

Dmitriev worked at TogetherSoft (now part of Borland Software) before co-founding JetBrains in 2000. He said he began thinking a lot about how to use artificial intelligence and knowledge base engineering to "make programming more automatic" and to remove from the developer some of the routine work that is part of the development process. Early in his Java life, Dmitriev said he did a lot of work using JBuilder, Borlands Java development tool. "I found I was quite unsatisfied with that," he said. "The notion of an IDE at that time was an editor, compiler and a debugger under one roof. I found I needed much more—more intelligence" in a tool, he said.
Dmitriev said the Java development environment he envisioned would know more about the language itself and would help the developer along. And the first generation of Java development tools, including Symantecs Visual Café and JBuilder, lacked the capabilities he was after, he said.
So Dmitriev and two partners started JetBrains in February 2000 and released Version 1 of its tool in January 2001. The group spent about $70,000 to develop the tool, he said. But within weeks after releasing it, JetBrains was profitable, he said. "Our main goal was making a full-featured IDE," he said. Martin Fowler, chief scientist at ThoughtWorks and an author and speaker on software development issues, mentioned JetBrains in an article called "Crossing the Refactoring Rubicon," and the company gained a groundswell of interest, Dmitriev said. Soon other IDEs began implementing features JetBrains had introduced into its IDE. "Im quite happy that other IDEs copied us" and began to put in features such as integrated refactoring, intelligent browsing, intelligent how-to complete and fixing bugs before compiling. The ability to get ahead of the market with innovations has enabled JetBrains to hold out from joining the Eclipse juggernaut or Suns NetBeans open-source development platform. While companies such as Borland threw in the towel and decided to join Eclipse and base their Java tools on the Eclipse platform, JetBrains will remain independent and will continue to innovate ahead of the market, Dmitriev said. Dmitriev said he welcomes competition and scoffs at the notion that commoditization could trump his business strategy. "Commoditization is not a problem when youre doing something unique," he said. "In the IDE space everybody thinks that what is there now is all there is to invent—that everything is already invented. But there is a lot more to create." JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA sells for about $500, but Alex Tkachman, the companys marketing director, claims the product quickly pays for itself in productivity gains. "The price of our product is just the cost of a programmer for one or two days of work, and for most companies its not an issue." Next Page: IntelliJ versus Eclipse.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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