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October 7, 2021

NetBeans IDE Updates and Improvements

Java Application Development
Open Source

If you're developing in Java, having a productivity-improving IDE is a must. While IntelliJ IDEA dominates market share, there are other options like the free and open source NetBeans IDE that can help developers improve their development output without the price tag.

But how do NetBeans IDE features keep pace with their paid counterparts? And does the new NetBeans release cadence make them better poised for success within the Java IDE landscape? In this blog, we dive in on the NetBeans IDE features and functionalities introduced from 12.0 to 12.5, and what the next LTS version, NetBeans 13.0, might look like.

What Is NetBeans?

The Apache NetBeans IDE represents a free and open-source development environment, tooling platform, and application framework. NetBeans is typically used by Java developers, but it can also accommodate JavaScript, PHP, HTML5, CSS, and other languages.

Market Share

According to our 2021 Java Developer Productivity Report, JRebel enjoys a 13% of Java IDE market share. For comparison, our 2020 Java Developer Productivity Report had 4% of Java IDE market share.

survey results showing java ide usage among developers
Source: 2021 Java Developer Productivity Report

This increase indicates not only a marked improvement to the IDE, but also a conscious effort to keep the IDE updated alongside other new Java tool versions.

NetBeans Release Cadence

According to the public NetBeans confluence page, the NetBeans release cadence typically follows a quarterly cadence, with one LTS release every year. Non-LTS releases are considered "Feature Releases", with those features then being folded into the yearly LTS release.

For 2021, NetBeans decided to forego an LTS release. The next LTS release will be 13.0, and be released sometime in 2022. As a consequence, there will be additional "Feature Releases" incorporated into the 13.0 release, unless additional adjustments are made to the release roadmap.

When to Use NetBeans

NetBeans is a good choice for developers on a budget, or those who need a lightweight IDE. Because it's a free and open source Java IDE, it can be cheaper to operate than paid versions of IDEs like IntelliJ IDEA.

For developers that need a more robust IDE, and have the budget to pay for them, IntelliJ IDEA will likely be the more favored option. If you want more information on how to choose between Java IDEs, be sure to read our blog here.

New Features and Improvements in NetBeans 12.0

Released on June 4th, 2020, NetBeans 12.0 marked the second LTS release under the new release cadence. It incorporated the "Feature Releases" 11.1, 11.2, and 11.3.

It introduced support for a number of Java language features found in Java 11, 12, 13, and 14, new code donated by Oracle, and improved tooling with Maven and Gradle. It also included built-in features for Wildfly and Payara.

A full description of the features in 12.0 can be found here.

New Features and Improvements in NetBeans 12.1

NetBeans 12.1 was the first release following the LTS 12.0, and marked the first release that will be incorporated into version 13.0. Released in September, 2020, NetBeans 12.1 introduced functionality supporting Jakarta EE 8, supporting features for Java Records, and more.

A full list of features for 12.1 can be found here.

New Features and Improvements in NetBeans 12.2

NetBeans 12.2, released in November 2020, was the second release of the NetBeans 12 release cycle.

For the Java IDE, new features focused on support for Java 14 and 15 language features, including additional features supporting Java Records, and the addition of supporting features for "sealed" type.

A full list of features for 12.2 can be found here.

New Features and Improvements in NetBeans 12.3

NetBeans 12.3, the third release within the NetBeans 12 release cycle, was released in March, 2021. 

Java-specific features in NetBeans 12.3 were largely centered around LSP/VS Code integration, but also included updates to nb-javac, and improvements to the Gradle integration. 

A full list of features for NetBeans 12.3 can be found here.

New Features and Improvements in NetBeans 12.4

Released on May 29, 2021, NetBeans 12.4 introduced a number of new features, improvements, and updated integrations. Chief among Java IDE features, NetBeans 12.4 introduced support for Java 16, and Jakarta EE 9..

It marks the fourth release since the LTS NetBeans 12.0 was released in June, 2020. A full list of features in 12.4 can be found here.

Micronaut

One of the big new support additions in NetBeans 12.4 is the addition of support for Micronaut. This update allows users to easily start Micronaut development via the new Micronaut project wizard. The support also includes code completion for Micronaut YAML files, HyperlinkProvider for Micronaut YAML config files, and WhereUsed RefactoringPlugin for Micronaut YAML config files.

Maven, Gradle, and Ant

With updates to Maven, Gradle, and Ant, build tools were another focus area in the NetBeans 12.4 release. The update to Maven adds support for VM/app argument injection to run and debug project actions.

As for the Gradle, the Gradle Tooling was updated to version 7.0.

Ant also received updated support, with support for Ant Freeform projects with source Level 9+, updates to the nbbuild freeform project, and an improvements to working with Ant-based Java/Jakarta EE projects.

New Features and Improvements in NetBeans 12.5

Released on September 14, 2021, NetBeans 12.5 added additional functionality and improvements around the Java language. The main improvement was the addition of a regular expression window and hint, making it easier to work with regular expressions.

Among other improvements, NetBeans 12.5 added additional improvements with Maven and Micronaut, including support for Micronaut's automatic restarts (mn:run).

A full list of features in 12.5 can be found here.

Looking Ahead to NetBeans 13.0

At a minimum, users can expect the features and improvements found in NetBeans 12.1, 12.2, 12.3, 12.4, and 12.5 to be incorporated into NetBeans 13.0. Because the NetBeans team put a LTS release pause place for 2021, it's also possible that versions 12.6 and 12.7 may be released before 13.0 is released in 2022.

Using NetBeans With JRebel

The JRebel has integration with all major Java IDEs, including NetBeans. You can get the plugin using the Plugin repository within the IDE or you can install it manually. Both options bring you the full, productivity-enhancing JRebel experience. To start using JRebel with NetBeans, please visit our NetBeans quick start guide.

animated gif showing jrebel for netbeans installation
Installing the JRebel NetBeans Plugin

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