JAX London 2014: A retrospective
Best of NetBeans

The top 10 NetBeans features according to its users

Geertjan Wielenga

From Maven to the Profiler, NetBeans community members tell us their all-time top ten reasons they’re glad they work with this IDE.

Over many years now, NetBeans users around the world have been sharing their favourite NetBeans features via a wide range of articles and blogs. From London, England, to Kenya, Nairobi, developers in enterprises and large organizations, as well as universities and schools, are actively using NetBeans IDE to be productive in their daily development tasks, while also as a tool for learning new technologies and languages.

Time to take stock. From all the feedback received, from the many articles written, and from the blogs that have appeared around the world, what are the key features that are appreciated by NetBeans users around the world? Below is the list of most frequently mentioned favourite features of NetBeans IDE.

1. Maven

Around the world, a key term that comes up repeatedly in the context of NetBeans is “Maven”. The fact that no plugins need to be installed to use Maven and that Maven projects do not need to be imported, but can simply be opened, is a key feature appreciated by NetBeans users. Just go to File | Open Project and NetBeans will recognize any folder containing a POM file as a Maven project and then use the POM file as the NetBeans project definition.

“If you are using Maven for version control, you should give NetBeans a go. It. Just. Works. Other IDE’s support for Maven ranges from the annoying to the incredibly frustrating. With NetBeans, it just ceases to be an issue.”
Ben Evans, UK

“Maven is provided out of the box and doesn’t need any additional configuration. NetBeans is able to natively open Maven projects without having to import them first.”
David Salter, US

2. Out of the box

Following on from the above, a key feature of NetBeans is the short time difference between installing it and beginning to create meaningful applications in it. Despite its significant plugin ecosystem, not much is needed to be installed or configured, since everything is available “out of the box” as soon as you start it up.

“The prime NetBeans feature is that it works out of the box. If you want to start learning Java, just download and start exploring. An enterprise customer project based on JSF – the same. Maven integration is top notch, and it is the real Maven thing.”
Thomas Kruse, Germany

“In past experiences, working as a team was a difficult thing because we did not know if files had changed or what was the final version. NetBeans IDE has helped to easily use powerful tools like Mercurial and Git by including integration with them out of the box in the IDE.”
Jesus Garcia Quiñones, Mexico

“NetBeans IDE has reached a level of integration that is barely touched by the other IDEs that I’ve tried, namely the all-in-one integration of external application servers and database engines. I think this is of great value because it keeps the focus of the developer on the current task at hand.”
Emil Stoyanov, Bulgaria

3. Java Editor

The language-aware NetBeans editor detects errors while you type and assists you with documentation popups and smart code completion – all with the speed and simplicity of your favourite lightweight text editor. Of course, the Java editor in NetBeans is much more than a text editor – it indents lines, matches words and brackets, and highlights source code syntactically and semantically.

“Java Editor hints in NetBeans IDE catch potential problems, suggest better ways of coding, and help migrate to more compact/modern code styles. Batch processing of changes across multiple projects, packages, and classes simultaneously is also supported and fast.”
Scott Palmer, US

“While writing unit tests or editing some numerical table, it happened to me several times to have to modify multiple lines at once. In NetBeans there is a tool for that and it is located in the editor toolbar. When the button is pressed, the user can select a rectangular section of the document.”
Enrico Scantamburlo, Italy

4. Java EE

NetBeans tools for the Java EE platform are developed in close cooperation with the Java EE, GlassFish, and WebLogic teams to provide the tightest integration and easiest possible use of the Java EE specification.

Consequently, if you are new to the Java EE specification and framework, as well as if you’re experienced in need to be productive and focused on your domain logic, using NetBeans IDE is the best way to quickly learn and become productive in Java EE programming.

“I work as a consultant for different customers, and not all of them have adopted NetBeans IDE as their standard IDE. However, I’ve converted more than a few to NetBeans IDE by showing them the JPA code generation feature alone.”
David Heffelfinger, US

“NetBeans is the number one IDE in terms of having the latest and greatest in Java EE specification support. It is the only IDE moving close enough to individual specifications and delivering relevant releases and tools that are synchronized with the reference implementation GlassFish.”
Markus Eisele, Germany

“I am constantly creating new entity classes to work with databases.  Using the NetBeans ‘Entity Classes from Database’ wizard allows me to select one or more database tables and the entity classes for those tables are then automatically generated.  NetBeans also provides the option to generate named query annotations for persistent fields. This feature alone is a significant time saver.”
Josh Juneau, US

5. HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3

NetBeans is available in a scaled-down distribution that contains tools focused on web-frontend development only, that is, only for HTML5 and PHP, without any Java tooling. The speed and simplicity of working with the web-frontend distribution of NetBeans IDE lets you significantly accelerate HTML5 web application development, from creating HTML5 projects, to developing them in editors for HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, to integration with SASS, LESS, Karma, Grunt, and the Chrome browser.

The integration with Apache Cordova enables deployment of native packages to iOS and Android, while HTML5 applications can be deployed to the Chrome browser on iOS and Android, from where applications can be debugged and profiled live on the device.

“NetBeans IDE provides a direct connection from its editors via the Chrome Developer Tools plugin to the Chrome browser. This enables direct editing and interaction between source files in NetBeans editors and the Chrome browser, mirroring all changes directly back into NetBeans IDE. This speeds up web development enormously.”
Joachim Arrasz, Germany

“HTML5 development is common for me. I love to use AngularJS as my framework. NetBeans makes creating a new project a breeze. You can get a new AngularJS Seed Template app in less than 1 minute.”
Paul Garcia, US

“I consider NetBeans IDE to be the best tool to do HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript development, with the best documentation/completion, hints, assistants, and frameworks support, such as for JQuery and AngularJS, in addition to integration with the Chrome developer tools. Using all these things together with Apache Cordova out of the box makes NetBeans IDE the best tool for hybrid mobile application development.”
Djamel Torche, Tunisia

6. Internet of Things

Directly from NetBeans, you can create, test, debug, deploy, and profile applications that will run on the Raspberry Pi, mobile phones, PDAs, set-top boxes, and other mobile and embedded systems.

“When it comes to creating applications for embedded devices like the Raspberry Pi, we leverage the NetBeans Remote Platform feature for compiling Java apps and deploying them to embedded devices, which saves a lot of time.”
Pablo Rodriguez & Anahata Development Team, Australia

“You can write code in NetBeans on your preferred local machine and you can compile and run it remotely on your Pi! You get full debugging as if you are working on your local machine.”
Conrad Vassallo, Malta

7. Profiler

Built into NetBeans and available for free, the NetBeans Profiler provides expert assistance for optimizing your application’s speed and memory usage, while making it easier to build reliable and scalable Java SE, JavaFX and Java EE applications.

“For me, a favourite feature is the Profiler that comes with NetBeans. It allows me to inspect CPU and memory usage, by methods and classes, in great detail, and it is very easy and handy to use.”
Zoran Sevarac, Serbia

“My favourite NetBeans feature is generational counts in the memory Profiler. Generational counts allow you to identify objects that are surviving all attempts to collect them. This information can be used to find long lived and leaking objects. It makes finding memory leaks trivial!”
Kirk Pepperdine, Hungary

“NetBeans offers a free Profiler. The Profiler has a user-friendly and easy to use interface. This can provide the user with important information of the runtime behavior of their application.”
Sophia Matarazzo, UK

8. Git and Mercurial

Without requiring you to install any plugins, NetBeans automatically lets you work easily and intuitively with a wide range of popular versioning systems, specifically Git, Mercurial, and Subversion.

“Ah, how convenient is it to just right-click a file or indeed a whole project and commit it without firing up XTerm! Pushing changes to upstream and pulling from what other team members have done is also so much easier now.”
Arthur Buliva, Kenya

“The support for Mercurial is first-rate. I have added the commands as shortcuts on my toolbar so I can easily review and submit changes. It will even spot if I copy a class and show me the changes with the copied file on first commit. That is pretty neat!”
Mark Stephens, UK

9. Configurability

The NetBeans workspace can easily be modified. Customize the buttons in the toolbar or drag and reposition tabs in the application frame to suit your individual workflow. Undock tabs and drag them outside the application frame, even onto a different monitor and change keyboard shortcuts to match your own preferences.

“It is without doubt that the graphical user interface of a system affects the productivity of the users interacting with it. NetBeans IDE is built on the idea of giving more power to users to determine the IDE’s look and feel. For example, NetBeans IDE has a feature for building custom themes.”
Moses Khazalwa, Kenya

“Being the control freak I am, I always tend to configure my tools to adapt to my workflows and not the other way around. In NetBeans IDE, I can change anything from the UI up to my keyboard shortcuts with no hassle and according to my mood.”
Edwin Lopez, Mexico

10. Community

Join the network of users and developers, writers and designers, bloggers and translators, who are shaping the future of NetBeans. A lot of documentation and tutorials, as well as mailing lists and discussion forums, are available for free.

“Being an open source project has its own merits. There is a huge community backing NetBeans IDE users. Any user can ask any question on the community mailing lists and many community members readily help them. I have got all my answers for NetBeans IDE from the community.”
Tushar Joshi, India

“Since I started using NetBeans, I’ve been amazed at how friendly and responsive the community is. Basically every problem I’ve had has been dealt with by someone from the community reaching out amazingly quickly.”
Ben Evans, UK

Geertjan Wielenga

Geertjan Wielenga

All Posts by Geertjan Wielenga

Geertjan Wielenga is a principal product manager in Oracle for NetBeans and has been a member of the NetBeans Team since 2004
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