Open-source IDE NetBeans hits v13 – tweaks for Gradle, Maven

Prepare the IDE of March: Apache emits fragrant burst of beany Java goodness


Updated The Apache Software Foundation has released version 13 of its NetBeans open-source IDE for Java, PHP, Javascript and other languages.

The new version also upgrades support for two of the main build-automation tools out there: Apache's own Maven, and the Gradle tool used for Android development.

Additionally, the updated IDE builds in the nb-javac compiler, its fork of the standard Java Development Kit's javac compiler. The release notes claim that this will make the "startup experience simpler and smoother".

It also defaults to the new FlatLaf theme's Light mode by default. (Yes, there's a Dark mode, too.) FlatLaf is a fashionably Flat Look and feel for Swing apps, inspired by the look of the rival IntelliJ IDEA IDE – and also able to import third-party IDEA themes. FlatLaf can also scale to support HiDPI displays.

NetBeans is written in Java and directly supports both Java SE and Jakarta EE, as we're now to call Java EE, on top of the GlassFish app server. It also supports other languages – although not including Ruby any more. Version 13 adds to its long-standing PHP support the new PHP version 8.1 (as covered on our sister site DevClass), JavaScript, HTML5 and to some extent C, C++ and Apache's own Groovy.

At 26 years since its first release under the name "Xelfi", NetBeans is a grizzled veteran among development tools. Sun bought the Prague-based company in 1999. Oracle wasn't so keen on NetBeans, favouring its own freeware-but-not-FOSS JDeveloper.

Nonetheless, it took seven years after acquiring Sun to decide to donate NetBeans to Apache.

NetBeans is still hanging on in the StackOverflow Top 20. At one point, we commented that it faced competition from Eclipse.

More recently, though, all the FOSS IDEs are looking nervously at Microsoft's VSCode. The Eclipse Foundation has its own FOSS take on VSCode… although what bothers you about VSCode is that it's not FOSS, or concerns about Microsoft monitoring you, there is the de-Microsoftified VSCodium.

Another rival is coincidentally also originally a Prague outfit: IntelliJ, or JetBrains as it's called now. JetBrains too is rising to the VSCode challenge… Although given that JetBrains has significant offices in Moscow, Novosibirsk and St Petersburg, current events may cause the company other, entirely separate issues. ®

Updated to add on March 14, 2022: Jetbrains, which historically did a lot of development in Russia, has stopped and withdrawn according to a statement on Friday, calling it "the most difficult" decision JetBrains has ever made.

The team said: "We condemn the attacks of the Russian government, and we stand with the Ukrainian people, including our own colleagues and their families.

"Today we are announcing that we will be suspending sales and R&D activities in Russia indefinitely. Sales in Belarus are also suspended indefinitely.

"JetBrains was founded in Prague, Czech Republic, 22 years ago. Over the years we have continued to expand our offices to other countries, setting up R&D centers in St. Petersburg, Boston, Munich, Amsterdam, and other locations. The decision to suspend our operations in Russia has been the most difficult one JetBrains has ever made.

"It affects us as a company, and more importantly, affects our people. However, we cannot ignore what is happening. It goes against the values that this company has always stood for.

"Many of our colleagues from Russia have already moved elsewhere, and we will support them, as we will all our employees."

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