What's New in NetBeans 3.6?

Thanks to several members of the NetBeans community who contributed this page.

Window Navigation

  • Arrange windows with drag and drop. Drag any window to anywhere in the IDE except the Source Editor and release. A red preview box shows you the window's target destination.
screenshot of a window being moved by drag and drop
  • Easy window navigation. Press Ctrl-` to toggle through the open IDE windows and documents. This feature is like using Alt-Tab on most operating system window managers.
  • Integrated task-related windows. Workspaces from NetBeans IDE 3.5 have been replaced with task-related windows that display automatically when you perform certain tasks. For example, the Debugger windows appear automatically when you start a debugging session and hide when you finish the session.
screenshot of debugger windows with the Local Variables window fronted

Appearance and LookAndFeel

  • IDE uses the native LookAndFeel for Windows and MacOS. The IDE uses Aqua on MacOS, Classic on Windows 2000, and the desktop theme on Windows XP. On all other platforms, the IDE uses the Java (Metal) LookAndFeel. You can set a different LookAndFeel by starting the IDE with the --laf LaF_class_name switch.
screenshot of the redesigned property sheet
  • Redesigned property sheet. The new property sheet is more compact, runs faster, and allows one-click editing of all properties. There's also a description area that displays information about the selected property.

Editor Improvements

  • Code folding. You can hide method bodies, comments, import statements, and other blocks of code by folding them in the Source Editor.
screenshot of an expanded block of code and a collapsed block of code in the Source Editor
  • Overriding methods. The Source Editor marks all inherited methods in the the left margin. Hold your mouse over the icon to see which class or interface the method is inherited from.
  • To Do window. You can easily track your tasks and TODO comments using the To Do window. You can view all tasks in a single file or in a selected directory.
screenshot of the TODO window listing all of the TODO comments in an open file
  • Automatic insertion of closing bracket/quotes/parentheses. The Source Editor now automatically closes all open parentheses, brackets, and quotes. For example, type System.out.println( and the IDE automatically enters the closing ).
  • Form Editor integration. The Form Editor has been integrated as a tab in the Source Editor. The GUI Editing workspace has been replaced with with Palette, Inspector, and Properties windows that appear automatically whenever a Form Editor tab is selected.
screenshot of the newly designed form editor windows
  • Print as HTML. You can take any Java file and output it to formatted HTML for publishing on the web.
  • Tooltip error description. Hold the mouse over any text containing compilation errors to view the error in a tooltip.
  • Easy splitting of the Source Editor. Drag and drop any open document tab to the bottom or left margin of the Source Editor to view multiple documents at once.

Web/J2EE Development

  • Servlet 2.4 & JSP 2.0. The parser database has been upgraded to support Servlet 2.4 and JSP 2.0 specifications.
screenshot of case-sensitive code completion
  • Tomcat 5. You can deploy and debug two-tier J2EE 1.4 and 1.3 applications to Tomcat 5 in the IDE.
  • Case-sensitive HTML code completion. HTML code completion now enters the tags in uppercase or lowercase instead of in uppercase only.
  • Opening/closing tag matching. Put your text caret in any tag to highlight its closing tag.
screenshot an HTML file in the source editor. The cursor is on a closing tag and the source editor is highlighting the matching opening tag
  • Validate JSP. The IDE provides a Validate action for JSPs instead of a Compile action. The Validate action detects all syntax problems except for syntax errors that occur at translation time. These types of errors are usually limited to files that contain embedded scriptlets.

Ant Support

  • Ant 1.6.1 integration. The IDE now comes bundled with Ant 1.6.1.
screenshot of the new Ant Properties in the Options window with properties for managing the classpath and Ant versions
  • Easy management of the Ant classpath. Go to Ant Settings in the Options window and add any additional directories or libraries to Ant's classpath using the Additional Classpath property.
  • Easy management of Ant versions. Go to Ant Settings in the Options window and choose any Ant installation in the Ant Home property.

JUnit Support

  • JUnit 3.8.1 support. JUnit 3.8.1 comes bundled with NetBeans IDE. You can automatically generate tests and test suites in both text and GUI mode.

Version Control Integration

  • Streamlined CVS design. Both the built-in CVS client and command-line CVS support have been harmonized to use the same wizards, property editors, and command dialog boxes.
screenshot of the new VCS Output window displaying the output from a CVS Update command
  • Improved display of VCS command output. The output for all VCS commands are now displayed as tabs in the VCS Output window. You can view the command's progress and stop any running command.

Help System Improvements

  • Unified Help system. NetBeans IDE merges the help for all modules into a single table of contents and index for easier navigation.

Other Changes

  • The IDE is no longer runs on v. 1.3.1 of the JavaTM 2 SDK, Standard Edition and is no longer tested on v. 1.4.0 and 1.4.1. The recommended JDK version is 1.4.2.
  • File Size and Modification Time added to the property sheets for some nodes.
  • There is no longer a filter toolbar in the Debugger window. You can access all debugger windows in the Windows > Debugger menu.
  • The Startup folder was removed from the Options window, so there is no longer a way in the user interface to specify classes that are run in the IDE at IDE startup.
  • Apache's regular expression library is no longer included in the IDE. The IDE now uses the java.util.regex package for regular expression support. Non-standard POSIX-like character classes ([:javastart:] and [:javapart:]) are no longer supported.
  • It is no longer possible to have more than one instance of the IDE run simultaneously on the same user directory.
  • IDE command-line switches can now be entered in GNU style, meaning they are preceeded with two dashes (for example, --jdkhome) rather than one. Single letter switches like -h and JVM flags are still entered with one dash.
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