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NetBeans 6.9 Release Supports JavaFX, Java EE6 and OSGi

by Josh Long on Jul 12, 2010 |

Oracle has released version 6.9 of its popular open-source Neteans IDE. This is also the first release of the IDE to be released under Oracle's stewardship. The new release has a couple guiding themes providing an umbrella for a raft of new features, as well as many improvements.

First among the additions, and most visible to a user, is the new support for building JavaFX applications using the IDE, called JavaFX Composer. Many have waited for this support for JavaFX to round out the toolkit and the platform. The JavaFX support features a visual designer tool, as well as a code editor. Coders can write code, build them and run them with ease, as well as reformat code files. The visual tools will be the most compelling to users looking to alternatives to Adobe Flash's visual tooling options. The JavaFX composer lets people visually manipulate an application, dragging and dropping components on the screen and arranging them. The tool lets you use - and visually change properties on – all the standard JavaFX components provided with the SDK. JavaFX Composer also provides support for binding web services and databases to components using a generic, abstract idea of data sources and record sets. Accordingly, it's very easy to create these data sources in the IDE.

The tool integrates nicely with JavaFX production suite. The suite is a packaging of plug-ins that enable a better designer/developer workflow between JavaFX application developers – who provide the application logic - and more visually inclined artists and designers - who provide an applications finesse and UI - using standard design tools like Adobe's Illustrator and Photoshop products. With the plugins, an illustrator might render a vector drawing, put elements in the illustration on different “layers,” assign them names, and then export the illustration into a format JavaFX can read. This file can be placed in the JavaFX application and visually previewed in the JavaFX Composer. Additionally, the individual named layers can be referenced and manipulated visually (and, of course, programatically) in JavaFX Composer. JavaFX Composer supports the notion of JavaFX states, which describe the configuration of an object at a given time. States are often used in the same way that you might use key-frames in a video editing tool. You can, for example, animate an object between two states.

The new release also sports upgrades to the underlying NetBeans RCP platform. While “NetBeans” describes an IDE, NetBeans RCP is the framework that sits beneath the IDE. The framework facilitates building modular, consistent Swing applications. This platform, and the IDE with it, is over 13 years old. Many entities – industry and academia alike - have built tools on top of the NetBeans RCP platform. This new release provides greater ease for those looking to use the platform, and its consistant, standard Swing toolkit, with OSGi. OSGi – a specification that describes the lifecycle of Java components in a given classloader – is the modularity framework used under the Eclipse IDE. The OSGi functionality enables bridging OSGi components with the NetBeans Module system: developers may use NetBeans modules from OSGi, they may use OSGi services from within the NetBeans RCP, and they may run the entire NetBeans RCP as OSGi.

NetBeans 6.9 also offers many refinements. The generic web developers toolkit has been updated with new support for – among other things – refactoring HTML and CSS elements. The release also sees updates to the PHP and Ruby editors in the IDE. NetBeans 6.9 supports the newer Spring 3.0 platform which was released November 2009. The Java EE6 support that was released in NetBeans 6.8 coincide with the finalization of the JEE 6 platform specification late last year, as well. However, some part of the specification were finalized late in the process and so support in NetBeans lacked a little in the 6.8 release. This release introduces enhanced support for CDI (the Java EE6 dependency injection API), JSF 2.0 (including Facelets), and the Web Beans APIs.

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