NetBeans 5.5 Aimed at the Enterprise

Last month Sun Microsystems and the NetBeans open-source community trumpeted the general availability of the NetBeans 5.5 IDE. Why does Sun continue to invest its resources in this free toolset in the face of Eclipse's market dominance?

This is a major upgrade of the only Java IDE offering a significant alternative to the Eclipse tooling framework, says Dan Roberts, Sun's director of developer tools marketing. He describes this version a "milestone release," because it takes the IDE deeper into enterprise territory, calling it a "renaissance" over the 4.0 version.

"When 4.0 came out, we started rebuilding our developer community," Roberts told reporters at a recent Sun chalk talk. "We knew that we had to compete with Eclipse to win developers back. So we started on a path to create a different shade of value proposition that focused on things like the out-of-the box experience, support for the latest Java standards, and a complete toolset that encompasses everything from devices to desktops to the enterprise and backend systems -- all within the NetBeans environment."

The new release provides full support for Java Enterprise Edition 5. It comes with the Java Persistence API, and supports EJB 3.0, JAX-WS 2.0, and JSF 1.2. It also supports the Subversion open-source version control system and Java BluePrints code patterns; and it includes enhancements to the NetBeans GUI Builder (formerly known as Project "Matisse").

Enterprise Tooling
Sun is promoting NetBeans 5.5 as an easy tool for developing Java applications and rich-client apps on the NetBeans Platform, a reusable framework for simplifying the development of other desktop applications. In conjunction with the 5.5 release, Sun unveiled five add-on enterprise service packs:

  • Enterprise Pack, which comprises tools for building, testing, and debugging SOA apps using XML, BPEL, and Java Web services
  • Mobility Pack, which provides support for Scalable Vector Graphics in Java ME applications
  • Profiler, which supports several new runtime environments, and is designed to make it easier to profile the properties of EJBs
  • C/C++ Pack (beta), which allows C/C++ developers to use the NetBeans IDE
  • Visual Web Pack (technology preview), which adds tools for building Web apps, with an emphasis on AJAX-enabled JavaServer Faces components

Sun also doubled the reach of its partner program to include 120 partners. The company is working with Sony Ericsson to adapt the mobile device maker's emulator tool kits to work directly with the NetBeans Mobility Pack. And JBoss plans to create a branded version of NetBeans for JBoss application developers, Roberts says.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].


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