Netbeans 6.5 - From "Zero" To A Better Alternative

At least in Germany Netbeans wasn't really popular. Even 2-3 years ago, developers just didn't cared about Netbeans - some even didn't heard about it. Frankly speaking, until version 5.0 Netbeans wasn't actually competetive, comparing it to the alternatives. Netbeans versions 5.0 and 5.5 changed the game: the Matisse GUI builder and superb Java EE 5 / JSF support drew some attention - however there were still some rough edges like relatively slow performance, and not that good editor. Both were significantly improved in the 6.0 version, performance was further improved in 6.1. The editor became really good - similar to Eclipse, but with some nice enhancements (try e.g. strg+enter).

What really impresses Netbeans-newbies is the profiler and the UML support (this one has to be downloaded separately). It is very easy to visualize existing code as class diagramms with only few clicks (about 5). Visual JSF support with databinding, intuitive Glassfish integration and some bleeding edge stuff like support for RESTFul services (JSR-311), Wicket, IceFaces, Python, PHP, JavaFX, JavaScript, BeansBinding (JSR-295), Swing Application Framework (JSR-296), Grails, JRuby On Rails, Mercurial support and many others, makes it really interesting for the "hardcore geeks".

What I observe, however, is the (actually huge) adoption of Netbeans behind the scenes. It remembers me at the old Eclipse 1.0 days. In meetings, lunches someone mentions the "coolness" of Netbeans and his private experiences with it. Whats new here: sometimes such a chat turns into introduction of Netbeans into the company. In the first step as complemention, then as "the only IDE you need".

Netbeans seems to ignite some passion as well. Developers without biaz just love it, the others not so. IDEs, however, were always religious topics - since the advent of Java.

Another phenomenon is the growing adoption of ...the Netbeans Platform. There are several (German) books available already. Tutorials and sample applications help to start. Netbeans Platform could become even more interesting, Java FX is based on Java 2D and Swing. The same technology as Netbeans RCP. The Matisse GUI Builder, Data Binding, build-in WebStart and packaging/deployment support makes it interesting for production as well.

The "esoterical" folks love Netbeans too - it comes with really good SOA and ESB support.

...and I like Netbeans because of it "out-of-the-box" experience. You can just download it and start. Netbeans is perfectly suitable for trainings as well. It is absolutely possible to setup the IDE with Java EE 5 environment in less than 5 minutes. And I like to switch between Eclipse and Netbeans back and forth - it's fun experience. It's good to be in the Java land :-).

 [This entry was originally posted here]


Hi Adam!

I see another increasing place: the German NetBeans forum ( gets daily new users and ever more articles about the use of NetBeans.

regards, josh.

Posted by Aljoscha Rittner on January 30, 2009 at 02:39 PM CET #

This year, i used NetBeans and GlassFish for my university class on Java EE.
I made this choice because of the one-click installation-configuration. I wanted my students to be able to get working environment without fighting for hours to get the IDE knowing the application server.

Posted by Christophe Jollivet on January 30, 2009 at 05:40 PM CET #

Hi Christophe,

its exactly the same reason, why I'm using Netbeans in my classes as well. It is the easiest and fastest way to installat the whole environment (Netbeans, Glassfish and Derby),



Posted by Adam Bien on January 30, 2009 at 06:11 PM CET #

I just hope that NetBeans will start to receive more commercial plugin support from 3rd party vendors.

My biggest obstacle to adoption is that my corporate version control system (Serena PVCS) only supports Eclipse and Visual Studio. It would be great if companies like Serena would finally start taking a serious look at supporting NetBeans.

Posted by BryanY on January 31, 2009 at 12:52 AM CET #

If I were I just bit sarcastic I'd argue:

Eclipse has still a better java editor. Quicker and more effective - netbeans is still behind (I can't tell what exactly it is - eclipse feels way better. Maybe it's things like ctrl+1 that work better in eclipse), but Netbeans is catching up.

But eclipse's plugins are a crying shame. Despite the cool OSGi platform usage most of them simply don't work nearly as perfect as the basic java editor (including eclipse projects like WTP, CDT or JBoss Tools - they work, but each has its own quirks). In contrast most netbeans plugins work very nicely (like the UML module, the OpenESB plugins etc.)

Posted by Stefan on January 31, 2009 at 09:19 PM CET #

Despite the fact that im using it, netbeans still feels way slower than eclipse, however the html and javascript support cant even be compared to eclipse.

And i think that the eclipse java editor is better.

Posted by Oziel on January 31, 2009 at 10:23 PM CET #

What I miss in Netbeans (compared to Eclipse) is binding of file edited with navigator. I have file opened and in navigator I cannot see which one it is. Another thing is that if I have exception in JUnit tests, there is stacktrace. In Eclipse I can click on stacktrace element and it opens the file and places itself on appropriate line. In netbeans I have to open file and scroll to the line by hand.

Posted by Paweł Stawicki on February 01, 2009 at 12:24 AM CET #

Being a NetBeans newbie, I notice that some things with NetBeans still feel a bit awkward. This is mainly about project handling, e.g.: why isn't there an option to create an empty project that does not have any particular layout; last I tried, one also could not check out a project from version control that did not have NB project data. As NB increasingly becomes a universal editing environment, these things should be fixed. Apart from that, I like how integrated NB feels.

Posted by Axel Rauschmayer on February 01, 2009 at 01:05 AM CET #


I had the same experience. But netbeans comes with even greater solution:

There is no "resource" project needed at all :-),



Posted by Adam Bien on February 01, 2009 at 11:14 AM CET #

I agree with Axel. The Favourites view is a workaround but not an alternative to a resource project or e.g a source folder in your project. Favourites are local configurations not shareable for other devs. NB is a context aware IDE this means you wont get things like local history in Favourites etc... to much to type into this small textbox ;)

I've written a module which provides a generic project type but it only solves a part of the issue. (temporary link)

Posted by mbien on February 01, 2009 at 04:29 PM CET #

Great tip Adam, thanks. Opening single files, helps, too. I like the idea of having pseudo-projects that point to an external directory and leave no traces there. But it probably should be available under "new project", because that's where I would expect people to look for such functionality.

Posted by Axel Rauschmayer on February 08, 2009 at 01:31 PM CET #

@mbien: I've downloaded the module, thanks. Do you have a more permanent URL? I'd like to blog about what I've found out.

Posted by Axel Rauschmayer on February 08, 2009 at 01:38 PM CET #

@axel, i'll keep it where it is, feel free to link it directly in your blog entry.
(But the module is not part of the NB OpenGL Pack)

Posted by mbien on February 09, 2009 at 09:19 AM CET #

For Ukrainian developers, short overview of Netbeans 6.5 in Ukrainian -

Posted by blaster on June 04, 2009 at 03:39 PM CEST #

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