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Top 5!

Marius Filip: My five favourite NetBeans features

Marius Filip

Continuing a series of articles focusing on NetBeans users and their five favorite NetBeans IDE features, here’s the next part, by Marius Filip.

I’m Marius and I am a software engineer with a long experience in a wide variety of technologies and programming languages. I program in Java for work and fun while preferring NetBeans for both. I am a Technical Architect with a trading company in London, UK.

What are your 5 favorite NetBeans features?

1. Backed by Oracle. It may seem strange to put “backed by a corporation” at the top of the list. However, Oracle is not any corporation, it is the Java corporation so this makes NetBeans the de-facto standard Java IDE.

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In Java, we have no shortage of choices—libraries, editors, application servers, build systems and so on.

When it comes to standardisation and ensuring consistency in what the developer experience is concerned, NetBeans is the ideal choice with its adherence to standards, with its synchronized releases (more about that below), with its “batteries included” feel, and its ease of use.

2. In Line with the Latest Java. When I started working with Java 8, I looked around for an IDE to develop, test and debug my projects with ease and without compromising the experience.

At the time NetBeans was the only IDE that stood up to the task. Why? Because the NetBeans team actually synchronises its releases with those of Java, thus making NetBeans the most up-to-date IDE on the market upon each Java release.

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True, for organizations still planning to upgrade from Java 5 to Java 6, this argument may not weigh much. But if keeping up with the latest Java developments is important, then NetBeans makes, once more, the IDE of choice.

3. Maven Support. About 5 years ago, I was so frustrated with the POM files in our organisation that I was seriously considering writing an IDE just for Maven files to help developers, build masters, and release managers to manage projects better.

Thank goodness I didn’t do it because there is already a Maven IDE and that is called NetBeans.

The NetBeans support for Maven is equal to none, period.

As of today, Maven is the de-facto standard for IDE-independent build in Java. Having an IDE that speaks Maven well, that does not force you into proprietary formats, that makes you almost forget that POM files exist is a big productivity boost when working with Maven.

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Such friendliness extends to Maven plug-ins as well. Code coverage with the JaCoCo plug-in takes just a few lines in the POM file and NetBeans automagically knows how to provide the correct menu entries and the coverage window with colored code area.

4. Productivity Tools. NetBeans comes out of the box with very good productivity tools like a capable editor and code refactoring, debugger, test unit integration and, last but not least, a good Profiler.

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Making applications fast is hard. This is eased somewhat by NetBeans as its Profiler not only delivers decent statistics but it also integrates nicely with the rest of the IDE – the developer does not feel that the Profiler comes from a different product.

5. Easy to Use, Gets the Job Done. In line with the “less is more” philosophy, NetBeans is deceptively easy to use—toolbars at the top, utility windows on the left and bottom sides, and the main editor area at the centre.

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The most-often used features are a right-click away and the seldom-used features can still be accessed via top menus.

The IDE is hugely configurable, NetBeans is not a toy editor, yet its configurability doesn’t get in the way.

There are no perspectives, no run-debug configurations and no head-scratching “where am I and where have my windows gone” moments.

Conclusion

Finally, and this may be a no-no for anti-Microsoft orientations, a good portion of developers have to deal with both Java and Microsoft technologies, such as a Java back-end and a .NET front-end. I believe that NetBeans is the best choice for dual Java/Microsoft developers as NetBeans and Visual Studio have a similar look and feel, making the migration from .NET to Java easy.

This article is part of a series of articles focusing on NetBeans users and their five favorite NetBeans IDE features.

Author

Marius Filip

Marius Filip is a Technical Architect with a trading company in London, UK.