NetBeans Strikes Back

I am more and more impressed with NetBeans.

I remember toying a long time ago with Forte for Java when it was still a young project. Then I switched to what was at the time the Rolls of the IDEs, Visual Age for Java, whose repository was a royal pain in the arse.

Forte for Java subsequently became NetBeans, and Visual Age had a second birth with the advent of Eclipse. Ever since, I have been using Eclipse which was without contest the best: completion, debugging, nifty Tomcat integration with the Sysdeo plugin, cool profiler, etc.

Now, with more recent versions of Eclipse, getting a J2EE app to run smoothly within Eclipse, with no reloading of classes and all the bells and whistles is a nightmare, and installing TPTP to profile applications is quite a feat (I haven’t managed yet, because I had to give up at one point or another because of plugin dependencies, dodgy proxy, and instabilities in the atmospheric pressures – and I’m not patient).

Recently, I had therefore to turn back to NetBeans because its profiler doesn’t take a Ph. D and the hacking of your corporate proxy to install: it comes integrated. And that’s one of the things that actually got my attention: there is no plugin version and dependencies nightmare, it’s just there, voilà, a high quality profiler. Like the Subversion integration. It’s there.

So, in the past few months, I have used NetBeans more and more, which is quite surprising, as to me NetBeans still had this “has-been” feel to it. But it appears NetBeans has followed Eclipse trend, and rather than lagging far behind, it has become quite a sustainable alternative. And for some reason, I find code in NB more… readable.

This evening, I had to tick another box in favour of NetBeans: it appears it also have support for Google App Engine. It is located there, and all the details to install it are described in this post. I have tried it, and it’s fairly well done. Ok, the plugin is obviously not as terrific as Eclipse’s, but NB doesn’t benefit from Google’s humungus support, and yet, the plugin is pretty usable from what I can see. I cannot wait to add the Spring library (yes, natively you can add Spring and Hibernate to your project, without much effort), and see whether this is all tying together!!!

This was also few days after discovering the good support for OpenGL:

There are however still some nagging points that prevents me from entirely switching back to NetBeans: the debugger is still somewhat behind, there are some desperately precious functionalities that I cannot find for the life of me, and that are a sore point, like the automatic selection of a file or a class in the Projects or Files views (on Ubuntu, I have to right-click, and go into Select in and then Projects – The shortcut doesn’t work (Ctrl+Shift+1), the Subversion support despite being integrated is still not up to Subclipse level, etc. But it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for it.