pmuellr is Patrick Mueller, Senior Node Engineer at NodeSource.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NetBeans 6.0 Beta 1

Shiver me timbers, yes, I'm blogging a bit about NetBeans. After hearing such gushing reviews of it, I figured I'd take a look. It's been at least a year, and probably more, since I last looked at it. And I should note, I'm just looking at the Ruby bits.

Thought I'd provide some quick notes on NetBeans 6.0 Beta 1 as a confirmed Eclipse user. I'd give the history of my usage of Eclipse, but then Smalltalk enters the picture around pre-Eclipse VisualAge Java time-frame, and you don't want me to go there, do ya matey? That would just make me sad anyway, remembering the good old days.

I've also used the RDT functionality available in Aptana, and will make comparisons as appropriate.


  • On the mac, uses a package installer, instead of just a droppable .app file.

  • Mysterious 150% cpu usage after setting my Ruby VM to be my MacPorts installed ruby. I didn't see any mention in the IDE of what it was doing, but I figured it was probably indexing the ruby files in my newly-pointed-to runtime. Only lasted a minute or so. If it had lasted much longer, I might have killed it, and then uninstalled it.

  • Can only have a single Ruby VM installed; Eclipse language support usually allows multiple runtimes to be configured, one as default, but overrideable on a per-project, or per-launch basis. What do JRuby folks do, who want to run on JRuby or MRI alternatively?

  • Plenty of "uncanny valley" effects going on, because Swing is in use. Of course, Eclipse also has a lot of custom ui elements; I'm becoming immune to the uncanny valley; and FireFox on the mac doesn't help there either.


  • I see the Mac .app icon changed from the sharp-cornered version to a kinder, gentler version (see the image at the top), but I think I can still validly compare Eclipse and NetBeans to two of my favorite sci-fi franchises, given their logo choices. But it's certainly less Borg-ish than older versions.

  • Install now ships as a .dmg for the Mac (disk image file) instead of an embedded zip file in a shell script.

  • Debugging works great. Same as Eclipse with the RDT.

  • I can set Eclipse key-bindings.

  • F3 works most of the time ("find the definition") like in Eclipse. In fact, this is cool: F3 on a 'builtin' like Time, and NetBeans generates a 'dummy' source file showing you what the source would look like, sans method bodies, but with comments, and the method navigator populated. Nice!

  • A Mercurial plugin is available for easy installation through the menus, and CVS and SVN support is built-in. I played a bit with the Mercurial plugin in a previous milestone build, and it was easy enough to use, but I never could figure out how to 'push' back to my repo. Why Eclipse doesn't ship SVN support, built-in, in this day and age, is a mystery to me.

  • Don't need to add the "Ruby project nature" to a project just to edit a ruby file in the project. How I despise Eclipse's project natures.

  • Provides great competition for Eclipse.

Quite usable, overall. Hat's off to the NetBeans folks! I'll probably start using it for one-off-ish Ruby work I do.

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