NetBeans: Beta, once again…

Oh yeah, time passes quickly… Seems it was only yesterday to deal with the prerelease builds of NetBeans 6.0, by now things are already “beta” once again, steadily heading for the 6.1 release supposed to be released in late April 2008. One might wonder whether, just less than five months after releasing a stable 6.0 version, time’s right for a new “stable release” already, but, looking at the current pre-release builds, I’d say it’s definitely worth dealing with, as quite a lot of work obviously has been put into what’s likely to be 6.1 rather soon:

  • Issue 44035 is likely to be fixed, making it easier to share NetBeans projects around, including libraries and additional code they possibly use. So far, getting, say, started with a NetBeans project on a different machine and/or a different version of NetBeans on the same machine prove to be difficult once in a while if the project used libraries not known to the IDE library manager. Maybe the changes introduced in 6.1 even make one give up on maven2 for doing dependency management – let’s see…
  • Support for Java Bean Patterns is back in 6.1. Though being a feature available in earlier releases, this seemingly got lost somewhere on the way to 6.0 and has caused quite some discussion ever since. Overally, it’s good to see this feature is back to the IDE…
  • The tooling for working with the Spring framework has seen some massive improvements. Initially built as a third-party module, it seems the code of spring-netbeans is now part of the official distribution (or at least an official add-on) and comes with a set of useful features, classpath and code-completion for Spring’s XML configuration files being the most notable one in my opinion. Though Eclipse’s SpringIDE still does better in terms of features and performance (code completion in a decently sized applicationContext.xml is ranging somewhere between “somewhat slow” and “unusable”), this is an important first step to ease NetBeans adoption by those used to doing their work based on Spring. And it seems there’s a growing amount of people who do so…
  • It seems that tweaking performance has been a major field of work on the way to 6.1… Though I experienced the IDE “hangin'” just in very few situations (like dealing with large JSP files), I couldn’t help noticing that 6.1 prereleases (a) start up faster and (b) seem to get everyday things just done faster than stable 6.0. Surely a good thing. 🙂
  • NetBeans 6.1 is likely to offer somwhat tight integration of MySQL database, which comes as no surprise given that Sun acquired MySQL AB just a while ago. I am torn about that: Given that the NetBeans services / database manager is amazingly good at dealing with generic RDBMS using JDBC and a homogenous interface not introducing any db-specific dependencies, this seems to be definitely a step back. Then again, it’s a good way helping the IDE being adopted by users heavily relying upon the MySQL database, possibly using some sort of LAMP software stack, who by now are provided with a well-integrated, comfortable working environment.

So, after all: I switched to 6.1 prerelease builds for doing productive work in early January, and while watching the IDE grow better and better, I am sure that 6.1, once released, is likely to push forth a movement tendency already seen with earlier stable NetBeans releases. Not much more than that to say: Have a look at the release notes, get it, get work done. Now if I only figured out how to disable that “transparency” effect while moving NetBeans windows around… 🙂