New Version of Free, Open Source NetBeans IDE Features Java 8 Support

On Tuesday Oracle announced the release of a new version of its NetBeans IDE that takes advantage of the latest enhancements in the newest release of the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE 8).

NetBeans 8.0, now generally available, has been upgraded with new code analyzers and editor enhancements for identifying and converting code to new Java language constructs, such as Lambda Expressions, Compact Profiles, Streams and Method References, according to the company.

The new NetBeans release also expands on the IDE's support for HTML5, which began in earnest in version 7.3. It also supports enhanced code completion for such JavaScript frameworks as AngularJS and Knockout; provides integration of the Karma test runner for JavaScript and the Grunt task runner; new Web preview and Chrome Developer Tools integration; and support for developing on-device hybrid HTML5 applications for the iOS and Android platforms. It also introduces a new set of tools for such Java EE frameworks as PrimeFaces.

NetBeans 8.0 also adds support for embedded Java development, specifically Java SE Embedded 8. Developers can now deploy, run, debug and profile Java SE apps on an embedded device, such as Raspberry Pi, directly from within the IDE.

NetBeans continues thrive despite early concerns that Oracle might shelve it after the database giant acquired Sun Microsystems. But the venerable development environment has grown under Oracle beyond Java, and now supports the C/C++ and Groovy languages, as well as PHP, JavaScript, and the HTML5 and CSS Web development standards. Version 7.2 of the IDE added integration with the JavaFX Scene Builder design tool, support for multiple PHP frameworks, and an update of its support for the Groovy language. Support for HTML5, CSS, and a new JavaScript editor and debugger based on the Nashorn project were added in version 7.3. Last year Oracle released version 7.4, which extended its HTML5 support to Java EE and PHP applications. And that release became the first IDE to provide support for JDK 8 developer preview builds.

"For a while now, we've been seeing an environment in which Java developers are being challenged, not only with understanding server-side Java, but with putting together these responsive designs in the client-side environments of JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS," John Brock, principal product manager at Oracle, told ADTmag in an earlier interview. "Java developers aren't just writing Java code anymore."

James Gosling, the Father of Java and a longtime fan of NetBeans, calls version 8 "a landmark release."

"It has always been the tool with the best support for the latest technologies," Gosling, who now serves as chief software architect at Liquid Robotics, said in a statement. "There is a long list of useful features [in this release], but the two that have made the biggest difference to me have been the support for Lambda Expressions for embedded development. It's absolutely magical how the "Use Lambda Expression" refactoring makes my code so much clearer."

Gosling was also smitten by NetBeans 8's support for embedded development. "After having spoken about 'Internet of Things' for decades, I'm thrilled by the extent to which, for ordinary developers, this has been exploding beyond cell phones," he said. "NetBeans embedded support makes this development painless, fluid, and fast-paced. Being able to debug a running robot, at sea -- or wherever your robot goes -- from a thousand miles away, is truly life-altering."

Liquid Robotics makes autonomous, ocean going platforms, including the Wave Glider, which is used for research.

NetBeans is a free, open source IDE. It's available for Windows, Mac, Solaris, and Linux. NetBeans 8.0 can be downloaded now here.

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].