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Sun Releases NetBeans 6.7 IDE for Java, PHP

For most developers, the IDE is where many start their coding efforts. Yet an IDE itself is just a development tool, and developers still require a place to host their source code. It's a gap that Sun is hoping to bridge with the release of its new NetBeans 6.7 IDE, which includes integrated support for Sun's Project Kenai.

Kenai is Sun's collaborative hosting site for free and open source projects. In addition to Kenai support, NetBeans 6.7 includes improved support for PHP and Apache Maven, enabling both Java and PHP developers to utilize the new IDE.

Sun's latest IDE release comes barely a week after rival Eclipse put out its major release and as Oracle's acquisition of Sun looms near.

"NetBeans and Kenai are a natural fit," Tori Wieldt, NetBeans's marketing manager, told InternetNews.com. "With more than 23 million NetBeans IDE downloads and a vibrant NetBeans user community, we expect that more and more developers will take advantage of the hosting and collaboration features at Kenai.com. We've already seen a growth on Project Kenai -- they have over 13,000 members from 132 countries."

Wieldt added that there is no fee today for using any of the services at Project Kenai. Currently, Kenai is in beta, and Wieldt said that Sun isn't ready to announce any move out of beta at this time.

While NetBeans was originally created by Sun to be a Java IDE, it has supported PHP development since the 6.5 release in 2008. With the 6.7 release, Sun is adding new features to support PHP users.

"NetBeans IDE 6.7 has PHPUnit support so a developer can easily test PHP sources," Wieldt said. "It also has a Selenium plugin to create Selenium tests using PHP. It also has SQL code completion in the PHP editor."

Selenium is a testing framework for web applications while PHPUnit is a unit testing framework for PHP.

According to Wieldt, PHP developers are embracing NetBeans.

"We've had over 75,000 downloads of the NetBeans PHP bundle in the last 3 months," Wieldt said.

One thing that the NetBeans 6.7 release does not have for PHP developers is support for the upcoming PHP 5.3 release, which the Eclipse Foundation supported with last week's shipping of PDT (PHP Developer Tools) version 2.1.

Wieldt said that Sun is looking to provide full PHP 5.3 support in a follow-up release of NetBeans.

Sun is also expanding support for the Apache Maven software project management application with the NetBeans 6.7 release.

"While support has been available via NetBeans IDE 6.1, this is the first release where support is built in," Wieldt said. "NetBeans support of Maven is for native Maven -- there are no wrappers or slowdowns using Maven through NetBeans. We offer a POM (project object model) editor, Java EE support, support for web services creation and consumption and improved code completion for Maven parameters."

Eclipse vs. NetBeans?

Though Eclipse is a competitive IDE effort to NetBeans, Wieldt does not see NetBeans as being in a "head to head" competition with Eclipse.

"We know developers use a variety of tools, and many developers use more than one IDE," Wieldt said. "We want to provide them with another tool, one that supports Java technology first and best. The NetBeans IDE just works after one download, and developers have responded positively to that."