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NetBeans IDE 6.1 Beta

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NetBeans IDE 6.1 Beta was released, a day or two ago. I'm surprised at the number of features that made it in. More than any other, I'm happy with these statements in the release notes: "Up to 40% faster startup. Smarter parsing so that code completion is faster. Less memory consumption." That's music to any IDE user's ears. Let's look through the rest of what the beta release offers.
  • Firstly, looking through the NetBeans IDE 6.1 Beta Information, one notices some prominent features and enhancements to features that would be hard to imagine Sun providing tooling for even a few months ago—Spring, Apache AXIS, (further, even more enhanced) Ruby/JRubyand MySQL. How things have changed. Right now, there is as much support in NetBeans IDE 6.1 Beta for Spring as there is for JSF! AXIS, offering an alternative web stack, is available via the Plugin Manager, while the other three are a standard part of the IDE.
  • Secondly, the community's voice has not only been heard, but has been listened to—in 6.0, mainly because of time constraints, three features were dropped which have now resurfaced—JavaBean editing support, the JSF CRUD generator, and Javadoc code completion. I well remember all the e-mails that were received when it became clear that 6.0 would not be supporting these. And I personally missed them too. The JSF CRUD generator was always great in demos, but not only demos—users have used it for everything from prototyping to laying the foundation of their production-focused web applications. And now it's back! I half expected all three of these to return to the IDE, sooner or later, but had not expected it to be as soon as 6.1 Beta.
  • Thirdly, there are a number of high profile enhancements, two of which should be mentioned in any overview such as this one. The first is the feature that enables you to share libraries between projects, which you can define in the wizards that you use to set up projects. Relative library paths can be set enabling seamless sharing and versioning of Java, Web, and Java EE projects. Adam Myatt, author of the recently released Pro NetBeans IDE 6: Rich Client Platform Edition, has a very good write up on this feature here. Next, a revamped JavaScript Editor has found its way into NetBeans IDE 6.1 Beta. Semantic highlighting, code completion, type analysis, quick fixes, semantic checks, refactoring. Does this place the JavaScript Editor on the same level as the NetBeans Java Editor? That is something I intend to find out for myself soon.
  • Finally, there is a set of features that you can find listed in the NetBeans 6.1 New and Noteworthy that never made it into the information document referenced earlier in this article. ClearCase support is available from the Plugin Manager and Mercurial is now baked inside the IDE, instead of requiring you to get it from the Plugin Manager. The update process itself is improved in that it is more unobtrusive than before. The server API need not be used to integrate servers into the IDE (something I want to explore myself as well), the windowing system lets windows be transparent, while SailFin v1, WebSphere 6.0, and WebSphere 6.1 are all supported out of the box. Also on the web front, the Visual Web integration with the IDE now supports new Woodstock components, while Jersey 0.5 and WADL are supported by the RESTful Web Service plugin.

That's a pretty impressive set of features and enhancements for a dot release! Despite all that, these are still the words that impress me more than any other: "Up to 40% faster startup. Smarter parsing so that code completion is faster. Less memory consumption." Are you a user of NetBeans IDE? If so [and even if not!] what do you think about these latest enhancements?

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Published at DZone with permission of its author, Geertjan Wielenga.


Umberto Zappia replied on Sat, 2008/03/08 - 6:08am

Great review, faster startup, smarter parsing and less memory consumption makes this IDE rock.

Thomas Mueller replied on Sat, 2008/03/08 - 8:09am

I wonder, is there a Java IDE that is browser based? Webclipse, WebBeans? Not XUL or Flash or Java applet, just regular HTML / Javascript.

Richard Bremner replied on Sat, 2008/03/08 - 11:39am

I hope not.

Jesse Sightler replied on Sat, 2008/03/08 - 12:03pm

That is good news... I also hope that the memory reductions are dramatic.  I really like the new features and integration of NB6, but the constsant use of ~500MB for even modest size projects does make it hard to use.

Fabian Vogler replied on Sat, 2008/03/08 - 7:19pm

@Thomas: Take a look at the Rich Ajax Platform. It enables to run Eclipse-Applications over the web.

Purnendu Das replied on Sun, 2008/03/09 - 3:17am

I have been on Netbeans from 5.0

I have to admit this is the fastest i have seen for th IDE to get loaded and other stuff. Speed is 35 - 50 % faster. If it is loaded once the next time it just takes few seconds to get loaded up

I have been a real fan of Netbeans of late. They might want to come up with Standard configuration for common stacks like Stuts - Spring - Hib / JSF - Spring - JPA with all Libraries preloaded. That way Web development will become easier than never before. 

Paul Rivers replied on Sun, 2008/03/09 - 3:38am

I really, really, really hope performance is improved. I was using Netbeans 5.5 before for my personal projects.  My favorite thing about it was how snappy it was. My old hard drive started failing, so I replaced it and just installed Netbeans 6.0.1 (along with the latest jdk).

 I'm very dissapointed - this latest version is lethargic about everything, even opening menus.

 I guess I'll have to try going back to 5.5, or using another IDE. Or maybe I should just try out the's a major bummer though.

Geertjan Wielenga replied on Sun, 2008/03/09 - 4:37am

Paul, what you describe shouldn't be happening. Yes, you should certainly try 6.1 Beta. But if the problem persists, then there's something wrong with your set up that we need to look at. I'd be very happy to help you. Maybe you're using an old user directory, for example. I'd recommend using a completely new user directory (just copy the old one somewhere) when encountering performance problem while trying out a new version.

JeffS replied on Sun, 2008/03/09 - 11:06pm

What geertjan said.  The setup is probably not right.

 In my experience, Netbeans starts up much, much faster (one of things very much on my wish list), and it's all around snappier.

Code completion is much improved as well. 

 Really, it's quite exciting to be following the progress of Netbeans these days.  It became pretty good with 4.1, and as of 5.0 it keeps making ridiculous improvements.  Now the 6.x series is really setting the bar.  That includes Java SE, ME, Swing, GUI design, JavaFX, Web, POJOs/JPA/EJB, RoR, C++, RCP, and the list goes on.

James Selvakumar replied on Mon, 2008/03/10 - 9:49am in response to: JeffS

Hi Geertjan, Yes, I tried the NetBeans 6.1 Beta and it's quite amazing. Though NetBeans 6.0 proclaimed that, it has faster code completion, I felt that it was nowhere near eclipse. But with 6.1, netbeans is inching closer. I've narrated more about my experience here.

- James 


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