As for the IDE itself, I've been working with version 5.5 as well as the version 6 milestones. NetBeans continues to advance at a steady, rapid clip, both in terms of features and overall quality. It has become a formidable competitor to Eclipse 3.2.1 and should continue to be for quite some time to come.
I'm sure that it required at this point to make an obligatory poke in the eye at Eclipse, but I won't. As I've said before, the developer community needs a strong and vital NetBeans and Eclipse. NetBeans was inferior for quite some time in comparison to Eclipse until NetBeans 4 was released. From that release up to 5.5, NetBeans has reached parity with Eclipse, and that's with Eclipse continuing to advance in its own lane.
For me, the best solution is currently Java 6 (build 103) with NetBeans 5.5. I like what it does for me as a developer. And I can't wait for NetBeans 6 to finally hit final release. Unless something goes horribly wrong, there's only one way for NetBeans to go, and that's up.
Based on some comments with a fellow employee.
- I use both Eclipse (3.2.1) and NetBeans. I use Eclipse strictly for its Java editor. The Eclipse editor is, hands down, the superior editor of the two.
- I use NetBeans pretty heavily for its Profiler and Matisse visual builder. Again, when comparing NetBeans with Eclipse, NetBeans wins hands down.
- I like NetBeans because it's complete out-of-the-box (or out of the installer). I also find NetBeans update and module management superior to Eclipse.
- Which leads to Eclipse configuration capabilities. Eclipse is incredibly configurable, and yet it's very well organized, especially to NetBeans. NetBeans configuration, in a word, is weak.
- If it wasn't for SWT and Eclipse, there's little chance that Java (specifically JFC) and NetBeans would have improved. Their competition should not be a zero-sum game. Frankly, competition is healthy for both.