What's New in NetBeans IDE Version 3.3

This document describes the new features implemented in the NetBeans IDE Version 3.3. The list of the features is divided into several sections. Each section collects new features for related NetBeans modules. Most of the links in this document point to documents on the www.netbeans.org website.

Feature Name: Name of the feature. You can click the name to get a full description of the feature.
Description: Short description of the feature.
Impact on users: How visible the feature is for users.
Module: The name of the module where the feature was implemented. You can click the module name to go to the module's home page.


  1. OpenIDE
  2. The Core IDE
  3. Java Development
  4. Debugger
  5. Text Editor
  6. Tools
  7. Web Development
  8. Version Control
  9. Distributed Applications Support
  10. User Interface
  11. Experimental modules
  12. Other uncategorized features


New features for OpenIDE
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
Property sheet refactoring No visible changes for user, refactoring to make future enhancements and bufixes easier.  small OpenIDE
Separate Explorer API Separate Explorer API from the rest of Open APIs into separate jar (just like other APIs are already separated - fs, util, nodes).  small OpenIDE
Data Systems API enhancements Several enhancements needed by the new implementation of projects.  small OpenIDE
Freshen Modules API The Modules API is crusty and should be replaced with a new class ModuleInfo.  small OpenIDE
Module sessions Make it possible to load a preconfigured set of modules quickly.  medium OpenIDE
Class provenance Provide a way for settings storage to query the provenance of module-contained classes.  small OpenIDE
XML layer editing Editing of XML layers.  high OpenAPI Support
Browse lookup Browse the contents of the default lookup.  medium OpenAPI Support
New Module Wizard - Template iterator New Module Wizard should be Template iterator.  medium OpenAPI Support
New Module Wizard - Jar file Better UI for creating target Jar file.  medium OpenAPI Support
New Module Wizard - Templates Defining templates for new module.  medium OpenAPI Support
The complete full lists of new features: OpenIDE, OpenAPI Support,

The Core IDE

New features for The Core IDE
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
New Output WindowReplace old Output Window with terminal emulator high Core IDE
Change WS serialization to use XML formatModify long-term storage of the window system to use XML rather than serialization. small Core IDE
Add right-click popup menu on MDI frames MDI frames will have popup menu, filled with commands for close, iconify, maximize, attach/detach from MDI.  high Core IDE
Make component showing without focus changeMake it possible to make a component visible, but not change focus. medium Core IDE
Simplify module installer Make the implementation of the module installer simpler.  small Core IDE
De-clutter core Try to break apart the mass of module-related classes in the org.netbeans.core package.  small Core IDE
Autoload modules Permit some library modules to be loaded on demand.  medium Core IDE
Split module serialization installedModules.ser should not contain all modules serialized together.  small Core IDE
Append environment variables Ability to add to environment variables when executing.  small Core IDE
Import of 3.2 Project Netbeans 3.2 Projects must be importable into Nb 3.3.  medium Projects
Switching between 3.3 projects Switching between 3.3 projects  medium Projects
XML format for persitence XML format for persitence  medium Projects
Persistent settings format presentation Persistent settings format presentation  medium Projects
Settings from filesystem compatibility Settings from filesystem compatibility  medium Projects
Updating from more AU servers at once It should be possible update modules from more than one AU server at once. Now there can be more than one AU server defined in the IDE (AutoUpdate types), but only one is active. User should set more active (enabled) AU servers to download modules from.  high Autoupdate
Restart after AU session User should have an option to refuse the restart. In this case AU only places nbm files on the filesystem, and next time when the IDE is run the launcher can detects that some NBMs need to be installed and run the updater app accordingly.  medium Autoupdate
Files tracking All files present in an IDE installation, or added to an IDE user directory, should be tracked by Auto Update.  medium Autoupdate
External binaries The major problem that we are facing with a lot of modules is that they require external binaries and we are not able to deliver them together with the module.  small Autoupdate
The complete full lists of new features: Core IDE, Autoupdate, Projects,

Java Development

New features for Java Development
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
ClassReader Clazz module should really read .class files instead of using reflection, which is both slow and insecure. In addition, it does not provide information about a class when it encounters linkage errors.   Java support
Support different encodings The IDE lacks means of specifying an encoding which should be used when opening or saving a particular .java file. We plan to introduce a default encoding used for java source files (just as there's an option for default compiler or executor) and per-file specific option for encoding. The NetBeans will then be able to handle each file separately when loading or saving. Compilation should also be performed with respect to source file's encoding, although there may be a problems with dependencies to differently encoded files.   Java support
Do not use static inicializers Do not use static inicializers  low Java Beans
Customize setting for generating R/W property from field. Customize setting for generating R/W property from field.  middle Java Beans
Regenerating bodies of method Regenerating bodies of method  middle Java Beans
Use superclass Use superclass  middle Java Beans
Allow mount Javadoc from module layer Allow mount Javadoc from module layer  medium Javadoc
Allow modify executor parameter for External Javadoc Allow modify executor parameter for External Javadoc  medium Javadoc
HTTP javadoc filesystem HTTP javadoc filesystem  medium Javadoc
Allow comment on packages Allow comment on packages  medium Javadoc
Form based on any class It should be possible to base the form on any class, including non-visual. This requires changing the form-type specification and extending ways of form creation (e.g. also without a template). Form type conversion could be implemented too (makes sense for changes like from JDialog to JPanel, etc).  high Form Editor
Windows reorganization The Component Palette will be moved out of the main IDE window, should be floating and dockable (by default in a window together with individual forms grouped in a tabbed pane). The GUI Editing workspace is then no longer needed. Form Editor should support docking of its parts into various windows, according to user's wish. So the user could e.g. dock everything (Component Palette, Component Inspector, and forms) into one Form Editor Window, or conversely let the components stand separately. This arrangement would be respected when opening new forms.  high Form Editor
Improved Component Palette Component Palette needs to be redesigned. First -- it should not be in main window toolbar, but in Form Editor's window (displayed only if some form is opened). Second -- the current JTabbedPane implementation cannot handle more palette categories (tabs) satisfactorily.  high Form Editor
The complete full lists of new features: Java support, Java Beans, Javadoc, Form Editor, Object Browser,


New features for Debugger
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
Filtering of variables hierarchy The current version of NetBeans Debugger shows all static / private / ... fields for variables in Watches & Variables tabs. It is useful when you want to find some details of implementation, but it can be uncomfortable for many other purposes. For example if I am inspecting an instance of java.util.Vector, I probably want to see its content not its serialVersionUID, capacityIncrement etc. So we plan to add some variable filtering capability to NetBeans Debugger.  high Debugger
Improvements of expression parser Currently we use JPDA experimental implementation of expression parser. But it is buggy and unsupported, so we are working on our own implementation.  high Debugger
Redesign of Debugger Window We plan to improve UI of debugger - Debugger Window. See User's view.  high Debugger
Breakpoint Grouping It is a good idea to logically organize breakpoints in the case of large projects. Grouped in a group, they can be enabled, disabled, or removed as a single unit. A group can be visually implemented by a node in the Debugger Window, tab Breakpoints. Descendant nodes should represent all breakpoints (eventually sub-groups) belonging to the group.  high Debugger
Debugger glyph  high Debugger
Add some new actions  small Debugger
Improvements of breakpoints  small Debugger
The complete full lists of new features: Debugger,

Text Editor

New features for Text Editor
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
Annotations (aka Glyphs) Annotations is a method to highlight a part of text of the document. The text is highlighted either by special background color or by putting an icon on the gutter or both.  high Text editor
The complete full lists of new features: Text editor,


New features for Tools
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
UI Improvements Make the Jar Packager UI more intuitive and easier to use. In particular, make each entry in the jar recipe an explorer node.  high JAR Packager
Quick target invocation Quick access to important script targets from UI.  medium Ant tool
Property definition wizard Make it easy to read build properties from a properties file.  medium Ant tool
Run target from popup Run targets from the popup menu.  small Ant tool
Use annotations Use editor annotations for Ant build errors.  small Ant tool
Upgrade to Ant 1.4.1 Upgrade the bundled Ant library to 1.4.1.  high Ant tool
Thumbnail property for image objects Shows thumbnail of image in the property sheet for chosen image object.  medium Image Files Support
Possibility to choose extension for new 'text-like' object Possibility to choose extension for new "text-like" object Possibility to choose from supported text extesions when creating new "text" file.  medium Text files
The complete full lists of new features: Ant tool, i18n, Image Files Support, JAR Packager, Properties files, Scripting, Text files, Utilities,

Web Development

New features for Web Development
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
The server integration framework as implemented for the Forte for Java, release 3.0 (Pilsen) will be moved to NetBeans builds The Server Registry and corresponding APIs which allow integration of multiple servers.  high JSP support
Improved support for servlets In NetBeans 3.3, it is possible to execute and debug servlets.  high JSP support
Make ICE browser an experimental module or change to a stable version If the decision is made that NetBeans should continue using ICE browser, then a more stable version than the currently used version should be used. This would mean either getting a bugfix release from WindRiver or downgrading back to ICE Browser 4.0.  medium IceBrowser
The complete full lists of new features: Applet support, External Web Browser, Internal Http server, IceBrowser, JSP support,

Version Control

New features for Version Control
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
Versioning Explorer Make a specialized file-based browser for VCS operations. This would probably be an extension of Revision Explorer.  high VCS Core
Versioning Menu Enhancements Make a customizer menu item for the current VCS filesystem and global VCS settings.  medium VCS Core
Cache Enhancement Enhance the cache architecture to provide correct status information during refresh.  high VCS Core
Grouping Grouping of files for maintainance and execution of commands.  medium VCS Core
Command Output Window Enhancements Add a Copy action to Command Output Window.  small VCS Core
Ignoring garbage files in Explorer Add a property, that define files ignored by the IDE.  medium VCS Core
Ability to Refresh Individual Files Every command should have the ability to refresh the state of processed files.  medium VCS Core
Commands Arguments History Remember the history of arguments to VCS commands.  medium VCS Core
Nb Independant javacvs Module's core independant of Netbeans  small Built-in CVS
vcscore integration Full UI integration into the vcscore  medium Built-in CVS
Global Options Global options integration under Versioning settings.  high Built-in CVS
Customizer New Customizer for the filesystem. Only one panel.  high Built-in CVS
Commands Support new cvs commands  high Built-in CVS
Error handling Improve handling of errors that come from the library (from cvs)  medium Built-in CVS
Grouping Grouping of files for execution of cvs commands.  medium Built-in CVS
Module selector Module selector UI improvement.  medium Built-in CVS
Commit safe-check Commit safe-checking improvement  medium Built-in CVS
Toolbar Toolbar for commands' actions.  high Built-in CVS
Coloring Coloring in output components depending on status  medium Built-in CVS
Customizer Enhancements Enhance the generic VCS customizer - Cut/Copy/Paste of commands, a new Environment tab.  high Generic VCS
Add support for CVS Add the CVS profiles to the standard NetBeans distribution.  high Generic VCS
Improve support for CVS Add new commands and profiles to CVS support.  high Generic VCS
Improve support for VSS Improve PVCS and VSS refresh status information.  medium Generic VCS
Off-line Mode Provide a better off-line mode with a guess of files' status.  medium Generic VCS
Password Saving Add a possibility to remember the password between IDE restarts.  small Generic VCS
The complete full lists of new features: VCS Core, Built-in CVS, Generic VCS,

Distributed Applications Support

New features for Distributed Applications Support
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
Wizard improvements The wizard should be attached to the templates to provide additional actions. It may or may not replace group files.  high RMI
Template improvements There should be only one set of templates.  high RMI
RMI Stub Compiler - Target folder RMI Stub Compiler should make it possible to specify target folder for generated stubs.  medium RMI
IIOP Stub Compiler There should be a preconfigured compiler for IIOP.  medium RMI
IIOP Templates All RMI-IIOP templates should have assigned the predefined RMI-IIOP compiler.  medium RMI
The complete full lists of new features: Jini, JNDI, RMI,

User Interface

New features for User Interface
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
The complete full lists of new features: User Interface,

Experimental modules

New features for Experimental modules
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
The complete full lists of new features: C++ Support,

Other uncategorized features

New features for Other uncategorized features
Feature NameDecriptionImpact on usersModule
The complete full lists of new features: General Online Help,
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