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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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