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Oracle Releases NetBeans 7.4 with JDK 8 and Mobile Web Application Support

by Charles Humble on Oct 23, 2013 |

After previewing it at JavaOne, Oracle has now officially released NetBeans 7.4. The new release allows developers to work with the JDK 8 previews, adds support for integrating HTML5 into Java EE applications, and provides tools for developing mobile applications with Apache Cordova.

Perhaps the most significant new feature of JDK 8 is the addition of lambda expressions as an alternative to writing anonymous inner classes. NetBeans provides tools to search for anonymous inner classes, and additional tools that can convert them to lambda expressions and back again.

Lambda Search

JDK 8 also sees the introduction of three compact profiles, a pre-defined subset of functionality designed such that applications that do not require the entire platform can be deployed and run on small devices. The NetBeans IDE lets you specify the profile to which your application should comply. Hints, analysers and refactoring tools are provided to help you ensure compliance with a given profile. You can also instantly switch between different profiles using the properties window.

With IntelliJ IDEA 12 already offering support for JDK 8, and Eclipse offering early access builds with support, it's clear that JDK 8 should be well supported from the IDE perspective straight out of the gate.

NetBeans' excellent HTML5 support continues to improve. In this release, a wizard has been added that generates a Backbone.js front-end that connects to a specified RESTful end-point in a Java EE application for the first time.

NetBeans' JavaScript editor has been updated to recognize the AngularJS, Knockout and Ext JS JavaScript frameworks. JavaScript code completion has been improved, with the code editor now aware of all your DOM ids, as well as model names in your JavaScript. As we previously reported, NetBeans also gains a "live edit" feature. Similar to IntelliJ IDEA's LiveEdit plugin, developers can tweak properties in NetBeans and have those instantly reflected in the browser.

Web developers can also use Sass CSS and LESS preprocessor files in NetBeans, to save time building complex CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for applications.

On the mobile front, support for Apache Cordova allows developers to generate native iOS and Android applications using JavaScript, HTML and CSS. The IDE also provides emulators that can show developers what their HTML5 applications would look like and how they would operate in iOS and Android-based browsers, and the live edit features work on the mobile emulators as well as desktop browsers.

There are a number of other smaller enhancements including integration of JIRA and Bugzilla issues into the new Task Management window. You can create issues in the IDE and work with them directly as you code.

Finally, NetBeans' out of the box support for Mercurial, Subversion, and Git has been improved with fine tuning diffing and reintegration between branches.

The NetBeans IDE is a free, open source IDE available for Windows, OS X, Oracle Solaris, Oracle Linux, and other Linux distributions. You can download it here. OS X users should be aware that the text rendering in 7.4 appears to be less clear than in 7.3. A bug report has been raised for this.

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