Netbeans is an excellent IDE from Sun Microsystems. It is written in Java and runs on all major platforms. With the latest 6.1 release, Netbeans has really stepped up its game and can now compete with some of the market leaders for integrated development environments. For more information about Netbeans, visit http://www.netbeans.org
Below is a list of 10 really helpful (...and cool) features in Netbeans 6.1. My examples are illustrated using a C++ project, but almost all of them apply across the board to the other languages that Netbeans 6.1 supports: http://www.netbeans.org/features/index.html
1. Code Bookmarks - This feature allows you to bookmark individual lines of code for easy browsing later.
2. Build Platform - When working with a C/C++ project, you can select which platform you'd like to build the executable for.
3. Code Completion - If you've used Visual Studio, then you've seen this type of thing before. While coding, you can pause (or use Ctrl+Space) and a code completion dialog will pop-up. This works for standard library items as well as items specific to user-created classes.
4. Code Formatting - Netbeans 6.1 gives you the ability to customize every possible code formatting option you can think of. Each case is separated into a group, and then each item in that group is a check-box. Changes are reflected in real-time via a preview pane to the right which is populated with example code. Once you make changes to these settings, Netbeans automatically accounts for them while you're coding. Very cool.
5. Single File Compile - Tired of building your entire project when all you want to do is make sure that the file you've just changed compiles cleanly? Netbeans 6.1 offers the "Compile File" option to do just that.
6. Diff - Diff is a very powerful tool for tracking changes between 2 different versions of a file. It isn't source control, it's simply a tool to contrast 2 versions of the same file, and it's commonly used when writing software patches. Netbeans 6.1 gives you the ability to run a Diff on a file right inside of the IDE.
7. Favorites - Netbeans 6.1 allows you to add files from your project to a list of Favorites. This is extremely helpful in large code bases.
8. Symbol Tracking - While viewing a source file, simply right-click on a symbol and you have the option to track various things such as the definition/declaration of the symbol, its source/header file, all occurrences of the symbol in the current file/entire project, and more. Again, very helpful in large code bases.
9. Include Directories - When developing a C/C++ project, Netbeans 6.1 makes it easy to add additional include directories to it's search path.
10. Local History - This is one of the coolest features I've seen in a while. Just think source control, except it's stored internally and it's graphical.
Hopefully this list has gotten you excited about Netbeans 6.1. If not, read it again! :)
This review was submitted for the Sun Microsystems Student Reviews Contest. You can get more information about this contest here: http://www.sun.com/products-n-solutions/reviews/studentzone/contest.jsp