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Apache NetBeans Is Now a Top-Level Project

It took two and a half years, but the NetBeans Java-based IDE has finally graduated to Top-Level Project (TLP) status at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). The popular open source development environment, tooling platform and application framework now comprises the largest codebases at the ASF. (It's 20 years old, after all.)

As a first-class-citizen in the ASF, the NetBeans project will now be able to receive more contributions from the open source community. Its previous status as an Incubator Project provided more limited access. That's the official entry path for projects and code bases whose supporters want them to become part of the ASF. It's where 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.

The stewardship of the IDE shifted from Oracle to the ASF in late 2016. NetBeans 8.2 was the last release by Oracle. It's worth noting that 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 said in a statement.

NetBeans is literally the first Java IDE. It was originally demoed back in 1998, about two years after Sun Microsystems created the Java language. Sun acquired the IDE in 1999 with the goal of evolving the tooling along with the Java platform.

NetBeans 11.0 was released in April 2019. It's the project's third major release since the IDE entered the Apache Incubator.

"Being part of the ASF means that NetBeans is now, not only free and Open Source software, it is also uniquely, and for the first time, part of a foundation specifically focused on enabling open governance," said Geertjan Wielenga, vice president of Apache NetBeans, in a statement. "Every contributor to the project now has equal say over the roadmap and direction of NetBeans. That is a new and historic step and the community has been ready for this for a very long time. Thanks to the strong stewardship of NetBeans in Sun Microsystems and Oracle, Apache NetBeans is now ready for the next phase in its development and we welcome everyone to participate as equals as we move forward."

Wielenga was an Oracle product manager and developer advocate for open source projects. He reportedly did a lot of the heavy lifting when Oracle donated the NetBeans code to the ASF.

NetBeans continues to be a popular Java IDE (1.5 million active users, according to the community). The project won the 2018 Duke's Choice Award, a well-established industry award in the Java ecosystem. But the development environment has grown beyond its Java roots to support C/C++, Groovy, PHP, JavaScript and the HTML5 and CSS Web development standards.

Posted by John K. Waters on May 8, 2019