Saturday, December 29, 2007

NetBeans 6 rocks!

I have not been doing Java for a long time. So when my work required a client to interface through TCP/IP to an ARM board running embedded Linux, I decided to use Java to build it. Since NetBeans was releasing RC versions towards version 6, I decided to give it a try.

I have always harbored some hope that NetBeans would become a viable contender to Eclipse in the free IDE/Rich Client Platform battle. In the past, the various NetBeans releases could not sustain my interest for too long. NetBeans 6, however, manages to do that for more than a month and I am still at it. I guess that is a good thing.

I am not doing full time Java programming these days. In my previous employment, I did web-based application development. I have always managed to avoid doing GUI development. GUI development tends to scare me. NetBeans 6, with its superb GUI builder (Matisse), however, helps tremendously. Of course, there are some rough edges. For example, alignment of my controls could get seriously messed up. But after learning on my own to liberally enclose controls in panels (select controls, right click to open context menu, select Enclose In > Panel), things become under control.

One small caveat. I have not tried building any GUI application on Eclipse IDE or IntelliJ IDEA although I am actively using Eclipse for embedded C development and I have used evaluation version of IDEA on and off for web development. But with such a solid package in NetBeans 6, should I even try them?

Kudos NetBeans. You've got my attention.