Not everyone in the open source community has had a positive experience with Oracle. The NetBeans community however is thriving under Oracle, with multiple releases and nearly a million active users.
This week Oracle continued its support for NetBeans with its third release since the Sun acquisition. NetBeans 7 provides new support for the upcoming Java 7 language release, in a move that is all about fostering Java adoption.
“The high-level of goal of NetBeans is to have a strong tooling solution and one that can track the latest and greatest in Java development,” Duncan Mills, senior director of product management at Oracle told InternetNews.com. “We want to encourage the adoption of Java.”
Mills noted that the NetBeans community under Oracle’s stewardship is extremely healthy. According to Mills, there are as many as 900,000 active users of NetBeans.
The key focus of NetBeans 7.0 is Java SE 7 support. Mills explained that what Oracle has done is they’ve enabled developers to use Java 7 syntax as well as the new language contructs. He added that a lot of the work in Java 7 is around making the language more concise.
The Java 7 SDK is not included as part of the NetBeans 7.0 download. Mills said that developers will have to download the latest preview build from Java.com. That said, though NetBeans 7.0 introduces Java 7 support, developers can point the IDE at any version of Java that they want to run.
NetBeans 7.0 also boosts Swing development. Mills noted that there is a new layout tool called GridBagLayout for building Swing interfaces. NetBeans 7.0 also provides HTML5 editing support for Web development.
Mills explained that NetBeans 7.0 enables developers to target the HTML5 implementation in a specific Web browser, or for the lowest common denominator, to ensure the best cross-browser compliance.
With NetBeans 7.0, Mills added that the IDE can be used as a core GUI for building desktop as well as Web applications.
“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,” Mills said.
Oracle is also now providing improved integration for NetBeans with application servers including WebLogic, GlassFish and Apache Tomcat. Mills noted that the NetBeans 7.0 download is bundled to enable developers to choose Oracle’s GlassFish or Apache Tomcat. WebLogic is not included as a bundled download, though it is a support integration point for NetBeans 7.0.
“We can control a server as well as managing the resources on a server,” Mills said.
NetBeans 7.0 also improves PHP performance. According to Mills, approximately a quarter of all NetBeans projects are PHP. He added that the NetBeans 6.8 and 6.9 releases added all the core PHP features that developers were asking for, which is why the focus in 7.0 was on performance.
Oracle also supports the open source Eclipse framework and its Java IDE. As to why Oracle continues to support NetBeans, Mills said that it’s all about providing choice in the marketplace.
“If NetBeans wasn’t there and Eclipse was all dominating, would the Java IDE world move forward?” Mills said. “By having NetBeans continually pushing the envelope, it provides a healthy environment within the Java ecosystem and it helps to keep developers innovating.”
“It will always come down to developer choice,” Mills added.