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The top ten coolest features in NetBeans IDE 7.4

Geertjan Wielenga

Geertjan Wielenga talks us through the latest NetBeans release, which now comes complete with enhanced HTML5 and JavaScript development features.

NetBeans IDE 7.4 is all about letting you work with JDK 8 previews, enabling you to integrate HTML5 into Java EE applications, providing tools for developing mobile applications via Apache Cordova, and deploying applications to mobile devices.

Lots of documents and screencasts have been published around this release of NetBeans IDE, but let’s wade through all the new features and quickly focus only on the ten that are most impressive.

1. JDK 8 Preview. Previews are available of the upcoming JDK 8, so you’re able to register JDK 8 previews in the IDE, check for JDK 8 profile compliance, and refactor your code to change from anonymous inner classes to lambdas. 

2. HTML5 Integration with Java EE 7. Java EE developers wanting to benefit from the rich and flexible UIs made possible by HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, can now integrate these very easily via tools and wizards directly into their Maven or Ant based Java EE applications. Live web preview of web pages is available in the embedded WebKit browser, the Chrome browser with NetBeans plugin, as well as on mobile devices, i.e., Chrome on Android and Mobile Safari on iOS.

3. Apache Cordova. Creating applications for iOS and Android doesn’t mean needing to know any native languages. Develop your applications in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS and then use the Cordova tools built into NetBeans IDE 7.4 to convert them to native packages, then deploy them directly to the native emulator or to the native device. When deployed to the native device, you can debug JavaScript and style CSS directly on the device.

4. Android and iOS. Once an application, whether it is created via Cordova or not, is ready to be tried out on a mobile device, deploy it quickly and easily from the IDE. New tools are included for deployment to Android and iOS emulators and native devices.

5. Knockout, AngularJS, and ExtJS. JavaScript support in the IDE has been overhauled. Support includes JavaScript framework-specific syntax coloring, code completion, as well as other editing and refactoring tools for the following JavaScript frameworks: jQuery, JSON, Knockout, Ext Js, AngularJS, JsDoc, ExtDoc, and ScriptDoc. Knockout, AngularJS, and ExtJS are supported for the first time.  

6. SASS and LESS. Editing support for Sassy CSS and LESS CSS preprocessors is provided, including syntactic and semantic coloring for language constructs, indentation, reformatting, code folding, and file templates. Code completion and refactoring tools are available for variables and mixins.

7. Maven. NetBeans IDE is famous for its natural and intuitive Maven support. The previous release introduced the effective POM view, and some of the many enhancements in NetBeans IDE 7.4 include reworked compile on save, as well as a brand new Build Execution Overview dialog to easily track the goals that have been executed.

8. Java Editor. The Java Editor, always the centerpiece of NetBeans IDE, is significantly more responsive than before. It sports a range of completely new and creative features, such as enhanced code completion, Java code metrics, and many new hints and refactorings.

9. Versioning. Out of the box, NetBeans IDE supports Mercurial, Subversion, and Git. Significant enhancements have been made in the support for all three tools, including fine-tuned diffing and reintegration between branches.

10. Task Manager. JIRA and Bugzilla issues can now be tracked within the new Task Management window. Create new issues within the IDE, work with them directly as you code, and simplify the development flow by having your code and your issues available to you within the same IDE.

More details can be found here:

Geertjan Wielenga
Geertjan is product manager of NetBeans IDE and lives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He blogs at

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