Saturday, May 05, 2007

NetBeans and Eclipse release new milestones

Friday was an interesting day. NetBeans released NetBeans 6 Milestone 9 (NB6M9), and Eclipse released Eclipse 3.3 Milestone 7 (E3.3M7). It should be noted that NB6M9 is now considered a general preview release, just in time for Java One. I downloaded and installed both. The changes provided in NB6M9 are somewhat more significant than in E3.3M7. What follows are some notes and impressions from initially installing NB6M9.

There are now three packages (or bundles) for NB6; Basic, Standard, and Full. With Basic you get just the IDE (Java SE development, GUI Builder, and the Profiler). With Full you get Basic plus JavaEE, Mobility, UML, SOA, Ruby, and Sun's Application Server. This is a fundamental change (and a break) with earlier versions, where you downloaded the equivalent of Basic and then used the Update Center (Tools | Update Center) to pick up other functionality, such as UML or Ruby support, or you went to one of the supporting projects and downloaded that package (such as the Profiler or Mobility). Update Center is gone starting with this milestone, so if you want any of those other capabilities then my advice is to download Full and tailor your install.

I downloaded and installed NB6M9 under Ubuntu 7.04. I also have Java 1.6.0 Update 1 installed under Ubuntu. The 1.6.0u1 version of Java is significant in that NetBeans 6 uses the Gnome look-and-feel out of the box as its default look-and-feel, even with regards to the installer.

One of the first dialogs to be displayed by the installer (a standard shell (sh) script) is a list of all the features available with the package. You tailor this with the 'Customize' button at the lower left. When clicked, the Customize button presents a dialog that allows you to choose what features you want installed.

As you can see I've deselected a number of features because I don't need them. I have no idea what would happen if I decided to add those features in the future. Would I re-run the shell script and add them back in? It's an experiment I need to perform. One problem I ran into with the customizer was the right side feature description panel.

As you can see above, it disappears under certain circumstances. In fact, there was considerable flickering in that panel along with text that seemed to be flowing across the panel. I could not widen the dialog enough to widen the panel, so I don't know if some sort of error was being displayed in the panel. But it didn't stop the customizer from working or interrupt the installation.

After a successful installation I went looking for the Update Center, and found it replaced (along with the module manager) by the Plugin Manager (Tools | Plugins).

The Plugin Manager is a significant and very welcome change over the earlier feature and module management tools in NetBeans. Everything is now in one location and far better organized. Because major features are now part of the download bundle the number of installable modules has decreased dramatically, which is also a welcome change. And finally (finally!) there is a decent description about the modules themselves. Plugin Manager is very polished and professional looking.

Once a module is installed it's a simple matter to find it and either deactivate it or uninstall it.

I have yet to try out existing features in NB6M9. I had stopped testing the milestones, specifically with milestone 8, because I'd reached a point where updates had rendered them useless. I look forward to working with NetBeans 6 milestones again, and hope this time that updates don't render it inoperative and force me to remove it.

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