What To Expect in NetBeans 6.1 Beta

NetBeans 6.1 Beta version 1, released this month, provides a lot of new features for developers. The solution is a free, open source integrated development environment (IDE) for building Java desktop applications.

This beta release includes enhancements to Ruby/JRuby support, which was first added in NetBeans 6.0. Ruby Editor enhancements have been made that enable JRuby fast debugging. The IDE also includes JavaScript technology improvements for AJAX-based Web applications, plus tighter integration with the open source MySQL database.

To use NetBeans 6.1 Beta, developers need to have JDK 5 Update 14, or later, installed. The beta supports Spring Framework 2.5 and has improved support for Mac OS X. New Java Platform Enterprise Edition features include added support for WebSphere application server 6.0 and 6.1, including EJB/JAR, WAR, and EAR development and deployment.

Performance Enhancements
The first thing to notice about NetBeans 6.1 Beta is that it starts up faster. With an opened project, NetBeans 6.1 starts 40 percent faster. The IDE consumes less memory and has an improved startup sequence. Optimizations to reduce I/O and file access have been applied for faster response on filesystems such as the network.

The Java editor uses incremental parsing, which provides faster code completion and improves responsiveness of the editor. Caching and memory management have also been used in the JSP editor parsing for faster code completion and editor responsiveness. The Visual Web Designer also has better responsiveness and lower memory usage.

JavaScript Enhancements
NetBeans 6.1 Beta provides new JavaScript features such as semantic highlighting, code folding of methods, file structure display in the navigator, formatting of JavaScript code, quick fixes and semantic checks. Users can find the usages of a JavaScript variable or method by using Find Usages. A background parser displays detailed error messages in a JavaScript file and all of the associated JavaScript files. Bracket matching adds and removes matching brackets.

The Mark occurrences feature highlights all of the occurrences of a variable or method call when a caret is placed on the variable or method call. When the caret is placed on a function, all of the returns from the function get highlighted.

The IDE enables the renaming of variables, as well as refactoring across multiple files. It supports code completion and type analysis for built-in JavaScript core classes. The Go To Declaration may be used to navigate to the declaration for a variable or a function.

MySQL Support
The new beta lets users register MySQL servers (Figure 1). Databases may be viewed, created or deleted. Connections to databases may be established and users can launch the MySQL administration tool.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Running an SQL query in MySQL Server. (Click image to view larger version.)

Ruby on Rails Support
NetBeans 6.1 Beta provides integrated support for Ruby, Rails 2.02 and JRuby. Target server integration is provided, which implies that the Web server to which a Rails application is deployed may be specified in NetBeans. By default, the WEBrick server is configured, but other servers may also be configured. Users can see the different servers installed by means of the Services tab. Each server node has nodes for the different Rails applications running in the server (Figure 2).

Figure 2
Figure 2. Server nodes. (Click image to view larger version.)

To modify the server configuration for a Rails project, right-click on the project and select Properties. Server configuration may be modified in the Project Properties window. The Rails environment (development, test, production) can also be selected when configuring the server.

By default, the MySQL Rails database adapter is used in NetBeans 6.1 Beta. Users can configure a Rails project either with or without Java database connectivity (JDBC). The IDE connection parameters are converted to database.yml adapter parameters by default. If the Access Database using JDBC checkbox is selected, the database.yml gets configured to use JDBC parameters, such as the JDBC driver class and JDBC connection URL. A screen showing the database configuration interface in a Rails project is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Database configuration. (Click image to view larger version.)

Other New Features
Some of the other new features in NetBeans 6.1 Beta include usability improvements, such as an improved drag feature that will display a small semi-transparent window when the user drags a window.

XML features in the IDE include the ability to create sample XML document from XML Schema. The beta uses an improved XML instance wizard and external schema/WSDL wizard.

The IDE has sharable project capabilities, in which libraries from one project may be exchanged with another project. The projects themselves may be shared with other developers.

The beta has a Plugin Manager that runs in background to download and install plug-ins. A plug-in for Mercurial, which is a source control management system, is included with NetBeans 6.1. The IDE also includes a plug-in for RESTful Web Services based on the Jersey implementation.

Other notable features are:

  • Accordion, Bubble help and Popup Menu components, which have been added to the JSF palette;
  • Javadoc and sources associations, which are enabled for any JAR file, not just Java libraries; and
  • JSF CRUD (Create-Read-Update-Delete) application generation, which can be done from Java persistence API entity classes.
Developers interested in trying out NetBeans 6.1 Beta 1 can download it here.

About the Author

Deepak Vohra, a Sun-certified Java programmer and Sun-certified Web component developer, has published numerous articles in industry publications and journals. Contact Deepak at [email protected].