What Is NetBeans?

NetBeans is Part of an Extensive Open Source Community

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NetBeans is a popular software development platform, mostly for Java, that provides wizards and templates to help developers build applications quickly and easily. It includes modular components across a wide range of tools and features an IDE (integrated development environment) that allows developers to create applications using a GUI.

While NetBeans is primarily a tool for Java developers, it also supports PHP, C and C++ and HTML5.

NetBeans History

NetBeans' origins stem from a university project at the Charles University of Prague in the Czech Republic in 1996. Charmingly called Zelfi IDE for Java (a takeoff on the programming language Delphi), NetBeans was the first Java IDE ever. The students were enthused about it and worked to turn it into a commercial product. It In the late 90's, it was acquired by Sun Microsystems which integrated it into its set of Java tools and then turned it over to open source. By June 2000, the original netbeans site was launched.

Oracle purchased Sun in 2010 and thus also acquired NetBeans, which continues as an open source project sponsored by Oracle. It now resides at ​www.netbeans.org.

What Can Netbeans Do?

The philosophy behind NetBeans is to provide an extensibleIDE that provides all the tools necessary to develop desktop, enterprise, web and mobile applications. The ability to install plug-ins allows developers to tailor the IDE to their individual development tastes.

In addition to the IDE, NetBeans includes the NetBeans Platform, a framework for building applications with Swing and JavaFX, the Java GUI toolkits. This means that NetBeans provides pluggable menu and toolbar items, helps manage windows and perform other tasks when developing a GUI.

Various bundles can be downloaded, depending on the primary programming language you use (e.g, Java SE, Java SE and JavaFX, Java EE).

Although it doesn't really matter, as you can pick and choose which languages to program with through the plug-in manager.

Primary Features

  • Swing GUI Builder: Drag and drop Swing components to build an application's GUI.
  • JavaFX UI toolkit: Work with JavaFX in the same way as Swing, easily incorporating its components.
  • Developer Collaboration: Work with other developers on using NetBeans through the Netbeans Community which includes forums, tutorials, training materials and the "NetBeans Dream Team", a group of committed enthusiasts.
  • Netbeans Platform: The modular NetBeans Platform provides APIs to help make desktop applications easier by handling some of the more common tasks involved in developing Swing applications.

Netbeans Releases and Requirements

NetBeans is cross-platform, meaning that it runs on any platform that supports the Java Virtual Machine including Windows, Mac OS X, Linus, and Solaris. 

Although open source — meaning that it is run by the community — NetBeans adheres to a regular, rigorous release schedule. The most recent release was 8.2 in October 2016.

NetBeans runs on the Java SE Development Kit (JDK) which includes the Java Runtime Environment as well as a set of tools for testing and debugging Java applications.

The version of the JDK required depends on the NetBeans version you are using.  All these tools are free.

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Leahy, Paul. "What Is NetBeans?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2017, thoughtco.com/what-is-netbeans-2034251. Leahy, Paul. (2017, August 25). What Is NetBeans? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-netbeans-2034251 Leahy, Paul. "What Is NetBeans?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-netbeans-2034251 (accessed December 12, 2017).