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Eric Bruno

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

NetBeans 6.5 - The Untold Story

December 10, 2008

Although I already blogged about the recent release of NetBeans 6.5, I wanted to take some time to write about some of its less-covered areas of enhancement. Also, I wanted to cover some of the future goals that Sun has for NetBeans. Recently, I spoke with Sun's Kuldip Oberoi, Group Manager of Developer Marketing, about these two topics.


According to Kuldip, PHP coverage is the big story for NetBeans 6.5. But also, a lot of time and effort went into refining the editor support for HTML and CSS files. Combined with NetBeans' complete support for JavaScript as a first-class citizen, this release has become a full-featured web application development environment. Although there's no built-in browser to preview HTML, the interlinking with GlassFish v3 features such as "deploy on save," which maintains the user's session even between deployments, completely surpasses that omission in my opinion.


Also, Sun has enhanced its support for C/C++ developers, allowing them to develop locally on any supported platform, and then perform distributed builds on other computers/servers, and even remotely debug in, say, a remote production-like environment. Keep in mind that this requires shared access to your application's source files between the client developer machine and the server(s).


Another area of interest is NetBeans 6.5's enhancements around database-related development. This release includes an enhanced database connection interface to get you up and working your database as quickly as possible, and built-in support for database operations. This includes SQL command-based operations, as well as manual database edits. With this built-in tool, you can browse schemas, create tables, add columns to tables, and make updates inline all without leaving the NetBeans IDE. 


NetBeans even maintains a SQL command history per table. Overall, it's not meant to be a replacement for a complete suite of database tools, but a lot of effort was put into allowing developers to stay within the IDE for the operations that they perform the most.


Future NetBeans Enhancements


One database-related feature being considered for a future release of NetBeans is the addition of entity relationship (ER) diagraming. Sun is thinking about the problem holistically; it would most likely to be implemented to solve mainly schema reporting use-cases, not necessarily database design-time requirements. The goal would not be to replace enterprise database development tools, but to help Java developers with their common database application development needs.


Also, with a future release, Python support will be finalized - currently it's an early access feature. Sun has noticed the growing population of Python developers, and the increasing attendance at PyCon this past year, and they plan to embrace the language more in the future.


Sun is continuing efforts to improve existing Java tools and their integration within NetBeans. Expect to see new code profiling tools for Java and other languages, which take new approaches to helping you analyze your application's code. As for language support within NetBeans, expect to see Scala--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scala_(programming_language)-- supported in the future. 


Regarding the grand vision for NetBeans, Kuldip told me that Sun is looking to make it the development environment for cloud computing. This is both in terms of  developer tools and services, as well as the deployment and maintenance of applications.


Happy coding!



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