Netbeans Advanced Editor Spring 2024 Review

Netbeans Editor Features Review

Netbeans is a Java-based integrated programming environment (IDE). Netbeans is free, open source and cross-platform (Mac, Windows and Linux).

This review is an update of a previous 2013 article and is based on features I require of an advanced text editor. A list of required features was created after using different editors. Some features require extensions or plug-ins.

Apache Netbeans is a free IDE for Java from https://netbeans.apache.org. There are downloadable packages for Linux, Mac and Windows systems. Netbeans can easily be extended by plug-ins to develop applications in other programming languages.

Test Tools

Test system:

  • CPU: Intel(R) i7 2600 @ 3.40GHz.
  • Memory: 16GB DDR3.
  • Operating System: Fedora Linux 40 64bit.
  • Desktop: Gnome 46 On Wayland.
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950.
  • Hard Disk: OCZ Intrepid 3800 SSD.

Test suite:

  • Large file: 1GB human-readable text.
  • Regex file: text with word “Netbeans” repeated.
  • Syntax file: PHP file containing HTML, CSS & JavaScript.
  • Media file: Smiley face JPEG file.
  • Java: OpenJDK21
  • Netbeans: Version 21 64bit

Test Score:

  1. Each feature has two parts
  2. Score of zero indicates missing feature
  3. A part of a feature is worth a score of 0.5

Three bias elimination steps were utilized. The editor was used for at least three years on different platforms. Attempts were made to get stable plug-ins for missing features. The same editor was compared between the one in the repository, the developers website, and the compiled version if applicable.

Selecting Editor Version

Netbeans was downloaded from the developer’s website for portability. Netbeans and its plug-ins are less bloated than in the last review. I enjoyed using Netbeans from version 8.2 that it is now my preferred PHP IDE. I even put up with the reinstall every time as it does not come with an auto-update feature..

Netbeans was installed in my home folder as I no longer distro-hop. All plug-ins such as PHP and Git were pre-installed once and never require re-installation. I even submitted a bug requesting the JSCH Library update in 2022.

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Netbeans Multiple Editor View

Features

The theme can be native for the editor in terms of the background, but the dark theme needs some minor tweaks. Netbeans comes with dark and light themes and others can be created or downloaded. The score for the theme was 0.7.

Dragging and dropping a text file into the editor opens a new tab. It is still not possible to specify the tab location during the drag and drop operation. The score for drag and drop into editor was 0.5.

Opening a very large text file did not crash Netbeans. An out of memory window was shown and it was not possible to edit the large file. The score for opening a large file was 0.5.

Multiple documents can opened in multiple tabs. Tear-off tabs work by opening a new Netbeans editor instances which is handy for multiple monitors. The score for multiple documents was a perfect 1.0.

Multiple editors can be opened as new tabs with drag options. Every new editor tab can be split vertically or horizontally. The score for multiple editor view was a perfect 1.0.

Creating non-project files is impossible. Non-project files can be opened by the drag and drop operation. The score for creating non-project files was 0.5.

Soft word wrap can be enabled in the editor settings. Automatic soft wrap for documents is available for Netbeans. The score for word wrap was a perfect 1.0.

Spell check works as words are typed. Spelling errors are shown in opened documents. The score for spell check was a perfect 1.0.

Word count is not available for Netbeans. Selection word count is not available. The score for word count was 0.0.

Go to line can jump to a specified line. It is possible to jump to either the first or last line. The score for go to line was a perfect 1.0.

Indentation can default to user-defined tab stops. Children are automatically indented. The score for indentation was a perfect 1.0

Fonts can be dynamically scaled. The system font can be bypassed and a new editor font and size can be set. The score for fonts was a perfect 1.0.

Find and replace using regular expressions can be utilized for all open documents in the current session. Find and replace will work for the current document or a selection in the current document. The score for find and replacing using regular expressions was 1.0.

Multiple language syntax highlighting in one file is enabled if the language plug-ins are installed. Each language has code-sensitive syntax colours which can be modified. The score for multiple language syntax highlighting was a perfect 1.0.

Code folding works for markup languages such as HTML. Code folding also works for programming languages such as Java and PHP. The score for code folding was 1.0.

Selecting rectangular block per column works via a toggle or CTRL-SHIFT-R on Linux. Rectangular block selections work with word wrap enabled. The score for selecting rectangular block was a perfect 1.0.

Multiple selection works using the shortcut CTRL-SHIFT-LMB or CMD-SHIFT-LMB on Macs. Search multiple selection is not available. The score for multiple selection was 0.5.

Distraction-free mode to hide panes works. Line numbers can be toggled to improve distraction-free mode. The score for distraction-free was a perfect 1.0.

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Netbeans Distraction-free

The file manager can create and delete folders. Media files can be dragged and dropped into the file manager pane. The score for file manager was a perfect 1.0.

Terminal is integrated into Netbeans. The terminal can follow folder. Terminal can execute system commands. The score for terminal was 1.0.

Results

Netbeans is a very powerful IDE. By default, the Netbeans editor is no longer missing required features which can be installed by using extensions. For my required features, the Netbeans editor scored 81.7% or 8.17 out of 10.

Conclusion

Netbeans is a very powerful integrated programming environment. Basic editor features are not longer missing in Netbeans. Important editor features no longer require installing Netbeans plug-ins. Overall Netbeans only scored 8.17 out of 10 for essential text editor features.

Netbeans now uses and attempts to render native theme and fonts. Netbeans has one of the best multiple language spell checkers available for any editor but it is slow to invoke for 2024. The dynamic font zoom is one of the easiest to use of any editor.

Recommendations:

  1. Search the built-in features and plugins portal for any required features before deciding to try Netbeans.
  2. Download Netbeans from the developer’s website.
  3. Install Netbeans in a permanent location.

References:

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