NetBeans experience revisited

Here I am once again writing about IDE’s and is inevitable to compare all of then. I’m a IntelliJ IDEA fan for a long time and today, while at Java EE Hands-on Lab session at JavaOne Latin America 2015, I decided to give a try to NetBeans again (last time I checked it was version 5.5)

Well, for my surprise I seated beside Geertjan Wielenga (GeertjanW), which happens to be one of the Oracle product managers on the NetBeans Team and now I was even more interested in testing the NetBeans 8.0 to see if it would survive to my expectations.

Geertjan saw that my IntelliJ was running on dracula theme and told me that I could easily use a dark theme and there were two good options, the second one being better (Dark Nimbus), to have that customized on your installation of NetBeans, you’ll need a plugin for it.

Dark Look and Feel Themes

as Geertjan mentioned the second theme is very close to the ones that we use in other editor, the name is Dark Nimbus:
Dark Nimbus choice

When Geertjan told me that NetBeans’s Maven support was great, I was expecting just a POM support and auto-dependency download. What I encountered was so better that I told him that NetBeans didn’t have Maven support, instead it was Maven centric.

From the dependency management to the build settings you see an IDE that is built around Maven support, for example, when you build a project, under the hoods, what NetBeans does is call mvn install for you, you can customized that easily by going into Project properties > Actions and choosing the appropriate Maven Goal.
Action menu

You’ve seen earlier a post about Dependency battle between Eclipse and IntelliJ, I thought that I would have the same problem with NetBeans, but as much as I tried, NetBeans kept me up with an impression that is really built for Users and not just developers. Take a look at the simple (but not simpler) interface for dealing with Maven dependencies:

Maven dependencies Tooling

The Services tab is really impressing, rather than to have to download every single connector, NetBeans bundle gives you a lot out of the box: Cloud Services Integration, WebServices like AWS, Hudson Builders, Task Repos and even though most of the other IDE’s include one or other, they’re spread and not so easy to find. Can’t stress this enough, this is like to be an User instead of a Developer, things that matter at two-clicks most of the time.
NetBeans Services Tab

The good and the not so good points:

After spending the afternoon coding a JEE7 project on it, there is a few couple things that I must note here:

  • Flat hierarchical package view is called reduced tree
  • All the customization done in the actions menu is saved in a file named nb-actions.xml so you can share or standardize over your company projects
  • Server integration within the services tab was again, very intuitive and I must say, this is by far, the best experience as a first encounter with an IDE. Things works as expected and I didn’t need to use any technical skills as I walking through the services
  • User friendly, all the things you’d expect are bundled, anything you want to add is easy as download a new plugin
  • Maven centric approach, please use this, you’ll never be the same on Eclipse or IntelliJ again.

The only problem I’d say I had was the Ubuntu plus Keyboard integration, the Unity makes it harder to control things from the keyboard and while very user friendly, NetBeans keeps the idea of using the mouse for common actions, although a cheatsheet of shortcuts is provided, I’m addicted to the Search Everywhere from IntelliJ (Accessed by pressing shift keys twice or shift+shift).


If you are using Eclipse right now, you should really consider NetBeans 8 as an better IDE on daily basis, things just works as expected. If bought IntelliJ IDEA then you should try NetBeans as I did to get the idea of what a IDE should provide atop of it’s core engine and even to propose new feature requests to the NetBeans team.

I would also like to thank Geertjan Wielenga (GeertjanW) for the patience and the guidance while I was discovering my way around the NetBeans IDE.

Now what are you waiting for? get yourself happy and download the NetBeans

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