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NetBeans Promoted to Top-Level Apache Project

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NetBeans, an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), was recently promoted to a top-level Apache project, approximate two and a half years after Oracle donated its source code to the Apache Software Foundation.

The migration from Oracle to Apache was coordinated with Geertjan Wielenga, a long-time advocate for the NetBeans Platform who helped donate the project from Oracle in 2016. This promotion within Apache makes NetBeans the largest codebases, as its code has evolved over the course of 20 years. The project was first demoed back in 1998, approximately two years after Sun Microsystems created the Java language and platform. At that time there were no other Java IDEs available and most coding was performed via text editors with separate systems for compilation and debugging. Sun acquired NetBeans in 1999 to evolve tooling along with the Java platform itself. Other IDEs, such as Eclipse, would be created several years later by IBM.

Within its new location at the Apache Software Foundation, NetBeans joins the Java dialect Groovy for programming, Tomcat for running web applications, and build tools like Maven.

NetBeans features many capabilities of working on software languages, whether or not those projects are coded in Java. The IDE supports other languages including C/C++, PHP, Python, and more. Native support is available to develop many projects directly from their native build systems, like Maven or Gradle. The IDE does not require a separate project setup of its own and will stay in sync with the underlying build system.

"Recently the support for Android has been rejuvenated by a user, no doubt inspired and reassured by the new direction of NetBeans," exclaims Wielenga about experience within the Apache Incubator. NetBeans facilitates the creation of Android projects. The Android development plugin is compatible with the Apache release of NetBeans on Java 10, 11, and 12. Developers can create these applications to target Android directly, or can use tooling like Gluon to create cross-platform applications that leverage the OpenJFX UI and transpile across PC, Mac, Android, and iOS.

"The most encouraging thing is that people have popped up out of nowhere to help and get involved."

Two community members who have stepped up in particular are Emilian Bold and Laszlo Kishalmi. Bold maintains a separate distribution of NetBeans called CoolBeans, that adds some native flair and more tooling support for C/C++ development. "The difference between the top 3 IDEs is not as much as polls would make it appear," Bold explains about the choices available to most developers. Bold recently published a separate interview about the promotion of NetBeans within Apache. Kishalmi contributed work to support the Gradle build system within NetBeans, which assists building and packaging many Java and Android applications.

Development teams looking to try the full features of NetBeans can directly download NetBeans 11 from Apache and see a full list of new features in this release. Developers can try the IDE at any phase of their projects, even if other IDEs are presently used.

In the same way that the NetBeans IDE uses Java to support many languages, Wielenga gave a final comment in Arabic from his location in the Netherlands, "استمتع ناتبينس" which means, "Enjoy NetBeans."

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