Who knows how many more chances I’ll have to talk about Sun tech that I like? In the five years I’ve been here I’ve been pleased by OpenSolaris and Fishworks and HotSpot and GlassFish and others, but NetBeans is #1 in my heart. I just downloaded 6.7 RC3 a couple of days ago to try to fix a problem (it didn’t, but the problem was amusing) and it’s really good stuff. Generally nice, and with one absolutely life-changing new feature.

NetBeans 6.7 working on some Ruby code

Obviously I’ve squashed the screengrab vertically so it plays better in the blog. When you see the NetBeans guys pitching, they always have the IDE set up festooned with lotsa little windows. It seems to me that it’s the code that matters, so I simplify and run things as you see above. Except for, when I’m working without a big outboard screen I move the test-results panes at the bottom to beside the code not below it.

I use the “Projects” and “Navigator” windows all the time, but they pop into view when you wave the mouse at those little tabs in the left margin.

What I Like · In general I like all the little UI tweaks, especially the soft-grey chrome that puts the focus squarely where it should be, on the code. Aside from that, there isn’t much else that’s dramatically different. It feels insanely fast, but I bet that’s related to having swapped in a new MacBook and Java 6 since my last coding binge. Given that my basic MacBook is kind of entry-level these days, I can safely say that for most people, NetBeans is really very damn fast.

Ahem. As I have been specifically requesting since 2004, and as you can see in the lower left window, NetBeans has a green your-tests-pass bar!!! Oh frabjous day! Be still my beating heart! I shall have to send a bottle of nice champagne to someone in Prague.

Issues · Just a couple of little ones. First, there’s a bug where some things don’t work properly if you’re not running Java 6. So run Java 6 already.

Second, a feature that entered NetBeans’ Ruby support some releases back just bit me. As in any IDE, there’s a keystroke that says “Run all my tests”. Except for it suddenly mysteriously stopped working. Sure, it changed to the root directory and ran a weird-looking Ruby command, but completely ignored my vanilla Test::Unit setup in ../test.

The best part of a day’s yak shaving later, I discovered that if NetBeans finds a Rakefile in your project root, it concludes that when you say “Test the project” you mean rake test. Which would be a sound conclusion except when one of your co-workers has quietly dropped in a Rakefile that does some hoe magic to craft a gem just so, but doesn’t have a test task.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Dave (Jun 18 2009, at 15:54)

I'm not a Netbeans user, but IDEA has had that for ages. Damn useful.

Unfortunately IDEA is an I/O monster and so kinda sucks on laptops.


From: John S (Jun 18 2009, at 16:03)

I'd love to use Java 6 on my Mac, but Java 6 doesn't accept any keyboard entry if you are using a non Apple keymapping. So it doesn't work with my British English Keyboard. Thanks Apple!


From: James Abley (Jun 19 2009, at 00:27)

The Ruby support is great. Shame Ruby -> Java debugging isn't quite there yet, for JRuby projects that are a mix of Ruby and Java libs.



From: Tathagata (Jun 19 2009, at 02:45)

Have been trying out NetBeans on and off for many years. Never really stuck with it for long. Will try the 6.7 RC again. Let's see.


From: SteveL (Jun 19 2009, at 03:17)

@John -Steve Jobs doesn't use a UK keyboard, so you shouldn't either. Just get a US keyboard and learn to do without the pound sign, its easier that way.


From: Erno Mononen (Jun 22 2009, at 05:25)

Hi Tim,

I'll need to play with Hoe a bit to see how the "test all" problem could be fixed in the IDE. You can also attach the UI test runner to other tasks than "test" [1], but currently the shorcut will always try to run the test task if it is present.

[1]: http://wiki.netbeans.org/RubyTesting#section-RubyTesting-RakeIntegration


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June 18, 2009
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