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NetBeans IDE 8.1 worth a second look

NetBeans IDE set to include Node.js support in the latest 8.1 version.

Software developers are creatures of habit, so when it comes to getting them to change their ways, like moving away from Eclipse or IntelliJ and taking the time to download the latest NetBeans' IDE, it can be a challenge. But if it's been a while since you last test drove Oracle's popular IDE, not to be confused with Oracle's JDeveloper product, there are compelling reasons why you should give the 8.1 beta version of NetBeans a try.

Enhanced JavaScript and HTML support

HTML and JavaScript have always been the ugly cousins when it comes to software development in the Java world, so when an open source IDE provided nothing more than a text-based editor with syntax highlighting for webpage development, Java programmers simply brushed the lack of functionality off with a shrug.

We've focused increasingly on providing neat tools for the latest JavaScript technologies and solutions.

-- Geertjan Wielenga, product manager, NetBeans

But JavaScript and hypertext are no longer second-class citizens in NetBeans country. Not only has JavaScript support been greatly enhanced, but the NetBeans 8.1 beta version comes with full support for Node.js development on both the client and the server sides. In fact, Java might become the second-class citizen given the pace with which JavaScript frameworks keeps growing. "NetBeans has always been focused on Java," said NetBeans product manager Geertjan Wielenga, "but more and more work is being done in JavaScript, so we've focused increasingly on providing neat tools for the latest JavaScript technologies and solutions."

Even though the NetBeans IDE offers more functionality than it ever has before, the environment itself has become significantly more streamlined, with lazy loading and on-demand invocation of resource libraries ensuring that the memory footprint is small, and clock-cycles are reserved for executing only the tasks the developer is interested in performing.

Oracle and the open community

The NetBeans IDE has always been open source, so you might be wondering why this would appear as a reason to return to NetBeans.

When Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, there was a great deal of consternation about the future of NetBeans and the manner in which it would be licensed. That pushed many Java developers towards Eclipse and IntelliJ.

But the NetBeans community has remained strong, and Oracle continued to act as a good steward of the NetBeans project. It's time to put any bad blood that existed over Oracle's acquisition of Sun behind us, and once again take a look at what NetBeans has to offer.

The dark theme is a welcome addition

Although on the surface it may seem trivial, developers often requested a dark look and feel to the NetBeans user interface. That craving didn’t go away until the introduction of the Norway Today and City Lights themes.

"A lot of late-night programming is done," Wielenga said, "and developers don’t want a white glare in their face."

With the latest edition of NetBeans, switching to something that will be easier on your eyes in the early hours of the morning is a simple as selecting a dark theme from the options menu.

Stability and reliability draw in large customers

Boeing, The European Space Agency and NASA, just to name a few, are using the NetBeans core to drive various important applications, all stemming from the stability of NetBeans, Wielenga said

“Large organizations are creating massive products on top of the core of NetBeans, which speaks to the fact that it's stable and reliable," she said.

If it's been a while since you test drove the NetBeans IDE, or if you're tired of your current IDE, it really behooves you to take the time to download the 8.1 beta version and see for yourself what the community has done to make this a compelling and enjoyable tool for developing modern enterprise applications.

What feature would you most like to see introduced into the next version of NetBeans? Let us know.

Next steps

Download NetBeans 8.1

Jelastic 2.4 includes more deployment options with Node.js

This was last published in August 2015

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