My first introduction to a heavy weight java IDE was JBuilder. I have to admit, I do not remember those days with an fondness.
The application was in a nutshell, a data maintenance gui. I can remember rolling up my sleeves and fighting with the clumsy and just plain irritating gui designer.
Nowadays I have an intense disliking for the concept of automated gui design. I feel that coding it manually is a far more efficient and liberating approach to gui design. As an aside, I did experiment a little with gui design on the SWT API and saw an awful lot of potential there for a gui designer that I might be persuaded to use.
I think my eschewing of gui designers is both because of the lack of control and because I disliked the code that gui designers produced. Which is why a salute Charles Petzold and his article Does Visual Studio Rot the Mind?
He fully endorse everything he says on the subject and highly recommend that you read his words on automated gui design.
I'm also sure all the java programmers out there, will have a quite chuckle to themselves when they read about Microsoft plans with Avalon about how they're going to introduce layout managers (sic).