jeudi août 05, 2004

Summer homework (NetBeans & Tiger)



NetBeans 4.0 Blogs are usually a good place for reviewing new stuff. The issue for Sun employees is that it's tough to review non-Sun products because you can be accused of biased criticism. But it's also hard to review home-grown products for the exact opposite reasons.

So I settled on things I had to do (sort of my summer homework): NetBeans 4.0 (the post-Eclipse release), Tiger (JDK 5.0) new language features, and the O'Reilly "Java 1.5 Tiger" book. So this is really meant  to be a review of this combination and this is only the first post.

I've had Tiger installed for a while but mostly played with its experimental monitoring tools (sort of the successor to
jvmstat) as well as with the new Ocean/Synth look-n-feel. After picking up the latest netBeans 4.0 Q-Build (I did try using NetBeans 3.6 and managed to do quite a bit, but 4.0 has proven to be so much better), I went on to download the book's companion source code which comes with an ANT build file to compile and build the book examples. NetBeans 4.0 smoothly created a project based on this archive and custom ANT script. The project system is now fully built on ANT which makes its targets (build, compile, clean, ...) available outside the IDE, allowing nightly builds and easier sharing with other developers.

The other good surprise was the IDE look-n-feel (tiger's new Ocean/Synth lnf certainly helps) and the window manager enhancements (some things remind me of Creator), it's really neat. See these snapshots (click to enlarge) :

nb_snapshot
nb_snapshot


Back to the project I just created. ANT being so integrated in the tool, I first had the feeling that it was the only way to go even for running a simple file, which I though was overkill. This prooved to be wrong, you can use a "Run File" or "Debug File" menu. There's also the clean notions of a platform (set of libraries) and a project properties (a compiler, an interpreter, a debugger, etc.). A platform and project settings are now first class citizens and not buried in the tool's options. For those using NetBeans today, note there's no more "mounting" to do. Those that were used to it will probably miss the feature, not everyone else ;-).

Having created this new project, I was all set and ready to develop/run/debug my Tiger examples. No extra step needed to use the appropriate compiler and options to recognize the new syntax, to provide code completion, etc. You can use NetBeans 3.6 to develop with Tiger, but this is where I found using the latest version was so helpfull.

Chapter 1 was a pretty soft introduction to Tiger new language features, I'm off the Chapter 2 (Generics!). More here as I move along.

So far so good, very good.
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