NetBeans IDE 3.6 touts windowing, J2EE 1.4

NetBeans IDE 3.6, a major revision to the open source platform, is now available, adding improved windowing, debugging, and backing for J2EE 1.4.

The platform is intended to enable applications development on systems ranging from mobile devices to multitier enterprise systems. Upgraded earlier this month by and Sun Microsystems Inc., the update to the Java-based development platform features a windowing system to provide a native look and feel on Windows and Mac OS. Also featured are enhanced navigation and workflow and improved JSP debugging through support of Java Specification Request 45, and Sun said.

“Primarily, the leading feature is an overhaul of the look and feel and workflow in the IDE,” which will more closely resemble what Windows and Mac OS platforms offer natively, said Steve Wilson, director of NetBeans technology. The same functionality will be extended to the Linux Gnome Toolkit in Version 4.0 of NetBeans IDE due this fall.

Although J2EE 1.4 has been touted as the Web services-enabled version of J2EE, Web services functionality is added to NetBeans through the Java Web services developer pack, which is a separate download available from Sun.

Sun and IBM Corp. had been in discussions about Sun joining the Eclipse open source initiative and Sun folding NetBeans into Eclipse. But Sun decided against the NetBeans/Eclipse combination because of the large investment in NetBeans, Wilson said. Sun has not joined Eclipse.

The NetBeans platform serves as the foundation of the upcoming Java Studio Creator tool, intended to provide ease of use in Java development. The tool is due in late June. NetBeans 3.6 is available for download.

Uttam Narsu, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said that if there is not enough feature evolution and competition to make Java IDEs rival Microsoft Corp.’s Visual Studio .Net, then NetBeans and Eclipse should be merged.

“The danger if both Eclipse and NetBeans continue is that the Java world ‘seems’ split, without one standardized tool framework and IDE. This split would be dangerous because the major competitor, Microsoft, is de-facto standardized,” Narsu said.

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