Apache NetBeans Update Adds JDK 14 Support, Java EE Features, New Dark Looks

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) announced the availability of NetBeans 11.3, the third update of the popular Java-based IDE in its recently implemented quarterly release cycle.

This release comes with several enhancements for Java developers, including additional support for JDK 14, first-time support for JavaServer Faces 2.3, and two new "dark looks" (Dark Metal and Dark Nimbus), among others. Apache NetBeans 11.3 runs on the JDK LTS releases 8 and 11, as well as on JDK 14.

This release also marks the completion of Oracle's donation of C and C++ features to the ASF, although the code has not yet been integrated into Apache NetBeans GitHub, the maintainers said in a statement. "This is anticipated to be a large task and may take some time," they said, "involving not only license changes and IP clearance in Apache, [but] also potentially code changes, since not everything that was part of these features in Oracle was able to be donated by Oracle to Apache."

Until that code integration is complete, they advise, users should go to the Plugin Manager, enable the NetBeans IDE 8.2 Update Center, which lets you install the NetBeans IDE 8.2 modules providing C and C++ features.

The NetBeans 11.3 enhancements for Java developers were focused on supporting JDK 14. That list includes:

  • Records (JEP 359): A new kind of type declaration in Java, records provide a compact syntax for declaring classes that are transparent holders for shallowly immutable data. This is a preview language feature in JDK 14.
  • Pattern Matching for the instanceof operator (JEP 305): Another preview feature for JDK 14, pattern matching allows common logic in a program (the conditional extraction of components from objects) to be expressed more concisely and safely.
  • The description of JEP 12 calls it a preview language or VM feature that is "a new feature of the Java SE Platform that is fully specified, fully implemented, and yet impermanent. It is available in a JDK feature release to provoke developer feedback based on real world use; this may lead to it becoming permanent in a future Java SE Platform."
  • Launch Single-File Source-Code Programs (JEP 330), which enhances the Java launcher to a program supplied as a single file of Java source code, including usage from within a script by means of shebang files and related techniques.
  • JSF 2.3 support, added for the first time to the initial integration of Java EE features into NetBeans. The IDE does not currently support Jakarta EE, the enterprise Java platform hosted by the Eclipse Foundation. The Jakarta EE APIs are identical to Java EE 8, the NetBeans maintainers said, though new JARs are now packaged under the Eclipse Foundation and all APIs have been slightly renamed. Apache NetBeans 12.0 is targeted for the integration of Jakarta EE 8 support.

This release also comes with fixes for HiDPI (High Dots Per Inch, a measurement of screen density) on Windows, an upgraded Gradle Tooling API, and Maven enhancements.

The stewardship of NetBeans shifted from Oracle to the ASF in late 2016. The popular IDE graduated to Top-Level Project (TLP) status at the ASF just about a year ago. NetBeans 8.2 was the last release by Oracle, though individual contributors from Oracle continue to work on the project "as part of the worldwide community of individual contributors, both self-employed as well as from other organizations," the ASF has stated. NetBeans 11.0 was the first Long-term Support (LTS) release of IDE as an Apache project.

Apache NetBeans 12.0, which will mainly constitute a consolidation of the 11.1, 11.2, and 11.3 updates. An effort will be made to keep that release to "as little innovation as possible, and as much "qualitative solidifying of existing features and functionality" as possible. The plan is to use the networking utility Netcat for the consolidation. AKA "nc" or "Swiss Army knife," Netcat is used for reading or writing from TCP and UDP sockets using an easy interface.

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].