In preparation for its upcoming Java 7 language release, Oracle unveiled NetBeans 7, its third release of the platform since purchasing Sun. Designed to support Java 7, NetBeans 7 gives the development community plenty of options in their programming environment.
Duncan Mills, senior director of product management at Oracle, notes that the company wants to encourage the adoption of Java. Though other open source communities, such as OpenOffice, seem to have received short shrift from Oracle, Java is something of a crown jewel. Indeed, with up to 900,000 active users of NetBeans, Oracle has a very healthy community on its hands.
While NetBeans 7.0 offers Java SE 7.0 support, developers can use the IDE with any version of Java. Even so, many programmers will likely appreciate the changes that are coming with the next version of Java, as a lot of the work has gone into making the language more concise. NetBeans 7.0 will let developers use Java 7 syntax and the new language constructs.
Users of NetBeans 7.0 will appreciate its additional support for Swing and HTML5. If you build Swing interfaces, you'll want to check out GridBagLayout, NetBeans 7.0's new layout tool. If you're developing web pages with HTML5, you'll be pleased to hear that you can use this latest version of NetBeans to optimize your web page to look its best in a specific browser, or build an HTML5 page that works well in as many browsers as possible (lowest common denominator).
With all of the focus these days on building web-based and mobile applications, it sometimes seems as if no one cares about helping developers continue to build applications for the desktop. The programmers behind NetBeans 7.0 haven't forgotten the desktop. Mills notes that "As an IDE, developers can use the NetBeans platform as a GUI toolkit, providing all the window management, storage, and preference that you need for a desktop application."
This latest release of NetBeans lets developers choose between two application servers, Oracle's GlassFish or Apache Tomcat. It also offers improved integration with WebLogic, even though that application server is not part of NetBean's bundled download.
If you use PHP with NetBeans, you're not alone; roughly a quarter of all NetBeans projects are PHP-based. Oracle is not blind to this; in fact, in response to developers, NetBeans 6.8 and 6.9 added core PHP features. That support continues in NetBeans 7.0.
Unfortunately, one thing developers won't get if they download NetBeans 7.0 is the Java 7 SDK. For that, you will have to go to Java.com to get the latest preview build.