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NetBeans To Support Python/Jython

The Sun Microsystems-sponsored open-source NetBeans IDE will soon be supporting both Python and Sun's Jython dynamic scripting languages, the company has announced.

The support is expected in an unspecified future release. The current version, NetBeans 6.1, supports Java, C/C++, JavaScript, Ruby, and JRuby. And the most recent milestone build, NetBeans 6.5 M1, supports PHP.

Sun has been reaching out to developers using dynamic, object-oriented programming languages (such as JavaScript, PHP, Python, and Perl) since the Ajax development technique (which employs JavaScript) began to gain mindshare among Web developers in 2005. Tim Bray, Sun's director of Web Technologies, has called the rise of dynamic scripters "an explosion of new languages" that has brought the developer community to "a very exciting inflection point where any new language with a good design basis has a chance of becoming a major player in the software development scene."

Sun is certainly putting its money where its Web director's mouth is. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based systems company hired Charles Nutter and Thomas Enebo, the chief maintainers of JRuby, as full-time employees last September. JRuby is a 100 percent pure Java implementation of Ruby for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

The company also recently hired longtime Python developer and dynamic languages and tools architect Ted Leung, and lead implementer on the Jython project, Frank Wierzbicki. Jython is an implementation of Python on the JVM.

Writing about the news in his blog, Leung, now principal engineer in the Dynamic Languages and Tools group at Sun, pointed out that NetBeans support of Python and Jython is an obvious next step in the evolution of the IDE. "NetBeans has really nice support for Ruby and JavaScript," he wrote, "so why should Python be left out?"

Why no date certain for the support? Leung said Sun is taking "an unconventional (at least for NetBeans) path towards providing that support."

Before Sun hired Leung and Wierzbicki, Allan Davis, a member of the NetBeans community, was already working on support for Python in NetBeans in a project called NBPython. "What we've decided to do is to work together with Allan and the rest of the NBPython community to produce a high quality Python plug-in for NetBeans," Leung commented.

In his blog entry on the news, Sun's developer tools marketing manager, Kuldip Oberoi, disclosed that Sun will be featuring Python/Jython technologies in future Sun Tech Days events in 15 cities around the world.

Developers interested in contributing to the project may sign up for the development mailing list here.

Sun has also launched a new Python Developer Center under the auspices of the Sun Developer Network (SDN). The site provides developers with downloads, community contacts, libraries, documents and frameworks for developing Web applications with Python and Jython. The company already maintains a Ruby Development Center.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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