Apache NetBeans 9.0 RC1 Now Available

Apache NetBeans Community approved the first release candidate of NetBeans 9.0 at the end of May, and the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has provided a near-complete list of features for this version of the popular Java SE IDE. NetBeans 9.0 RC1 comprises all the modules in the Apache NetBeans Git repository, which together constitute the NetBeans Platform, along with all the modules that provide the Java SE-related features of Apache NetBeans.

This incubating release, which is the first release of NetBeans under Apache, supports the Java Platform Module System (JPMS), better known as Jigsaw, and includes Java Shell, a new tool included in JDK9 (defined in JEP 222), which introduces REPL (read-eval-print-loop) capabilities to Java.

The ASF Incubator is the official entry path for projects and code bases whose supporters want them to become part of the ASF. This is the process through which those projects are vetted to make sure they comply with the ASF legal standards and their support communities adhere to the ASF's guiding principles.

"While incubation status is not necessarily a reflection of the completeness or stability of the code," the ASF Web site explains, "it does indicate that the project has yet to be fully endorsed by the ASF."

The primary focus of this release is IP clearance of the code Oracle donated to the ASF, and testing its functionality via the NetBeans Community Acceptance Testing (NetCAT) process. The community will vote on the final release at the end of that process.

But this release is also about supporting Java 9 and 10. It comes with a brand new Java Modular Application project type, which allows for the development of several JDK9 modules in one Ant-based NetBeans project. As the ASF explained it, "The advantage of this project type over several Java SE projects, each containing one module, is that dependencies are simply managed by declaring appropriate exports and requires in, and all modules in the project will be compiled at once."

Oracle handed off the popular open-source application development environment, tooling platform, and application framework to the ASF in 2016, following the October release of NetBeans 8.2, the last version under its stewardship.

NetBeans continues to be a popular Java IDE (1.5 million active users, according to the community), but it has grown beyond Java to support C/C++, Groovy, PHP, JavaScript, and the HTML5 and CSS Web development standards. The NetBeans Incubator Wiki explained the argument for moving the IDE to the ASF:

Although NetBeans is already open source, moving it to a neutral place like Apache, with its strong governance model, is expected to help get more contributions from various organizations. For example, large companies are using NetBeans as an application framework to build internal or commercial applications and are much more likely to contribute to it once it moves to neutral Apache ground. At the same time, though Oracle will relinquish its control over NetBeans, individual contributors from Oracle are expected to continue contributing to NetBeans after it has been contributed to Apache, together with individual contributors from other organizations, as well as self-employed individual contributors.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].