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Apache NetBeans 13 Delivers Improved Developer Experience

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The Apache Software Foundation has released Apache NetBeans 13, their integrated development environment (IDE), claiming a simpler and smoother startup experience along with the partial upgrade of Maven, Gradle, and PHP. Written in Java and originally designed for the Java community, NetBeans is a cross-platform, polyglot IDE that includes language support for HTML5, PHP, and C/C++.

This release also ships with the FlatLaf Light theme look and feel as default. FlatLaf, an open-source cross-platform look and feel built for Java Swing desktop applications, has no gradient or shadow, and supports HiDPI displays. However, the other look-and-feel themes, such as Metal, Nimbus, and FlatLaf Dark, are still available to use.

NetBeans 13 comes with nb-javac, a forked Java compiler tuned for Netbeans, in the bundle. The NetBeans project relies on nb-javac for various reasons such as parsing and lexing, for features such as syntax coloring, code completion, refactoring, etc. Although, it remains possible to use the compiler of your preferred JDK builds in NetBeans. Prior to this release, on startup, while creating a Java project for the first time, a dialog box would appear, and users had to install and activate it. With this release, this is no longer a requirement, which claims to provide a smoother startup experience for a user. In addition, this release fixes a huge number of bugs for Java projects.

This release provides a dependency upgrade to Maven 3.8.4 and minimal support for the Maven Daemon, allowing users to use the mvnd command. Many users will find it convenient to embed mvnd within projects to make it portable, as they no longer need to install Maven on their machine to use it.

This release also offers increased support for Gradle. It fixed a few major bugs, such as project loading in template operations and added minimal support for the java-platform Gradle plugin.

Besides Java, NetBeans supports a few other prominent programming languages, such as Groovy, PHP, JavaScript, and C/C++. This release fixes a few ongoing issues with Groovy, such as code completion for the class fields and an infinite loop that may occur while parsing sources. NetBeans 13 now can run an independent Groovy Script that is not a part of a project with the shortcut Shift +F6.

NetBeans 13 provides enhanced support for PHP 8.1 and support for PHPStan, a static analysis tool for PHP. Ondřej Mirtes, founder and developer of PHPStan, in describing this utility, wrote:

If you're not familiar with PHPStan, it's a static analyser for PHP focused on finding bugs in your code. It catches whole classes of bugs even before you run your app at all.

Originally known as Xelfi for Java IDE, NetBeans was created by a group of math and physics students at Charles University in the Czech Republic in 1996. NetBeans ultimately became the flagship IDE for Sun Microsystems and open-sourced in June 2000.

One year after Oracle initially proposed donating NetBeans to Apache, the first of multiple code donations was made in September 2017 into Apache's incubation process.

Enthusiastic over this new release, James Gosling, father of Java, distinguished engineer at Amazon Web Services, and prominent NetBeans user, tweeted:

NetBeans 13 is out! I've been using the early releases for a while. It's lovely. Take it out for a spin. Better yet, it's all open-source, so you can help make it even better!

NetBeans 13 offers many more fixes besides these. Developers looking to use NetBeans can download NetBeans 13 right now. New users can consult a number of tutorials within the NetBeans Getting Help pages.

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