NetBeans IDE beta released, tackles Java specs

NetBeans.org, which oversees the NetBeans open source Java tools environment, has released a beta version of the NetBeans 4.0 IDE, featuring support for the latest Java specifications and Apache Ant-based projects.

Available for download at www.netbeans.org/downloads/index.html as of last Friday, the IDE provides a Java development environment for Windows, Linux, Solaris, and Mac OS X, according to NetBeans.org.

Version 4.0 of the IDE, due for general availability in December, enables developers to work with Java 2 Platform Standard Edition 5 (J2SE), which features support for metadata, generics, enumerated types, and autoboxing of primitive types, according to NetBeans.org. These features are supported in editor, debugger, and refactoring functions in the IDE.

Support for the Ant build system enables third-party modules to be plugged into the IDE.

"The key message here is that users can now import their Ant script into NetBeans," said Larry Baron, senior product manager at NetBeans.org and a Sun Microsystems employee.

The IDE also supports Java 2 Platform Micro Edition (J2ME) for developing applications for mobile devices. Included is support for the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) and the Connected, Limited Device Configuration (CLDC) 1.1 standard as well as integration with third-party phone and device emulators.

Support for Java refactoring in the IDE allows developers to make sweeping code changes without affecting functionality, according to NetBeans.org. Additionally, refactoring offers functionality such as renames, move class, rename package, change method parameters, encapsulate field, and find references.

A second beta of the IDE in October will expand add support for Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE). "The really significant message is with previous versions of NetBeans, we've had J2EE in the Web tier. Now, functionality is provided in the EJB layer and Web services layer," Baron said. EJB development can now be done in NetBeans, he said.

Some 360,000 lines of code from the Java Studio development tool have been put into NetBeans, Baron said.

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