Earlier today the release of NetBeans IDE 6.9 was announced. After several beta builds and release candidates the final version of NetBeans 6.9 was released around 10:30 AM CEST. In this blog we'll look at several new options present in NetBeans 6.9. The focus will be on PHP or web development related options since those are the ones we use most ourselves. Some of the great new options include the following, which will be explained in more detail later:
About half a year ago a remarkable event took place. All three developers of ThemePartner switched their IDE to NetBeans within two days. Each of us three was using a different IDE at that time, and like most developers, we were defending it pretty fiercely as being the best out there. What caused us to switch from our beloved IDE to NetBeans in less than 48 hours? To explain that properly, we should have a look at the IDEs and text editors we were using before NetBeans:
Zend Studio 5 (commercial): Zend Studio 5 was a great product in terms of PHP development related options, and general usability. Options such as code completion, projects and syntax checking took our PHP development capacities to a whole new level.
Zend Studio for Eclipse (commercial): in our opinion these were inferior releases compared to Zend Studio 5. Despite having several new options and being built on the Eclipse engine, it took an enormous hit in performance. For example: completing a single PHP function name could take up to several seconds, which made code completion a virtually useless option in these releases.
Crimson Editor (open source): my personal favorite a couple years ago. It was (and still is) a superlight editor that actually fits on a floppy disk! Despite missing several interesting features, it generally took care of the job. Considering there was only one minor release in the past six years, and the system requirements speak about Windows 95, I do not see a bright future for this editor.
Dreamweaver (commercial): the former favorite code editor of our designer and front-end developer. Mainly the completion of HTML and CSS tags created a strong liking for this product. However, its commercial nature and bloated application style eventually were two of the main reasons to step away from this product.
Notepad++ (open source): despite not having 'the looks' for 'the big name', this is one of the best text editors out there. It is extremely lightweight, fast, stable and available in over 10 different foreign languages. What we personally love most about this product is how it handles character encodings. Even when there is no explicit notion of character encoding in the document, Notepad++ correctly identifies which character encodings is used. In a world that is becoming more international every day, this is an important feature that many other text editors out there lack.
With this new release NetBeans means proves once again that it is a superior IDE for editing PHP files and coding in other web languages. Aside from all the major improvements listed above I already noticed that NetBeans has fixed two relatively small issues that have been bothering me in version 6.8.
The first fixed issue is that now it's possible to click away the initial sub window in the version output. The second is that is now finally possible to click next to line numbers and drag your mouse up or down to select specific lines. This was a feature present in Crimson Editor and Notepad++ for years and I really loved, but was not present in NetBeans until now. Considering I have been using NetBeans 6.9 for less than a day now, I am sure I will find many more improved features along the way!
Please tell me what your thoughts are about the latest release of NetBeans