Why I Switched from Eclipse PDT to NetBeans IDE

I had started a post highlighting the recent Eclipse PDT 2.0 release but now find myself dropping the post and the Eclipse IDE altogether. Instead, I'll share why I've switched from Eclipse PDT to NetBeans.

First, it should be said that Eclipse 3.4 and PDT 2.0 are huge improvements over previous versions. They're smaller with fewer dependencies. Eclipse 3.4 launches and closes much faster than previous versions thanks to greater use of application and project data caching. PDT 2.0 sports new object-oriented programming features that make navigating and viewing class method relationships really easy. So, with all of these improvements, why change?

Regardless of the server-side languages an IDE supports, it must also provide robust support for writing JavaScript. It must also provide support for today's popular JavaScript frameworks, including dojo, jQuery, and YUI. Currently, Eclipse's JSDT plugin does not support these libraries. I've been writing a lot of jQuery lately and JSDT riddled my scripts with error highlights. There is a JSDT patch available to add jQuery and YUI code assist support to JSDT but I was only able to apply it to Eclipse 3.3 and PDT 1.3.

I'd read good things about the NetBeans 6.5 release which added PHP editor support. My frustration with JSDT's lack of jQuery support pushed me to download NetBeans and give it a try. I must say that I'm impressed, particularly since this is the first NetBeans release to support PHP editing.

I didn't need a tutorial to install and configure NetBeans to match my Eclipse environment. NetBeans came with everything I needed out of the box. Here are the hightlights.

  • The Basics: Project support, code navigation, syntax highlighting, code folding, refactoring, code templates, etc.
  • CVS and Subversion support.
  • PHP function completion, documentation popups, and phpDoc autocomplete.
  • Debugging with xDebug.
  • Basic project deployment tools.
  • Complete JavaScript code assist and completion.
  • Support for jQuery and YUI code completion.
  • HTML/CSS code completion and validaiton. The CSS preview pane is very cool.

Nice! No need to install plugins to get version control and debugging support. The NetBeans site provides good documentation and a number of getting started tutorials.

I did have a few issues that are worth mentioning.

  • Watch out during commits as, unlike Subclipse, NetBeans will automatically svn add new files to your repository for you. I committed a few files before they were ready during my first commits from NetBeans. You can easily add files to an ignore list or deselect files when performing commits.
  • It took me a while to become accustomed to NetBeans UI. There's more flexibility in how navigation panes can be dislayed in the workspace. I didn't like this at first, but it's grown on me.

I've used Komodo IDE and Zend Studio and am amazed at how close NetBean's feature set is to these commercially licensed packages. If you're looking for a new IDE, give NetBeans a try.

Comments

Codelobster PHP Edition

I use free PHP IDE - Codelobster PHP Edition

Few things that put me off with Netbeans

1. There doesn't seem to be a way to recall files easily? In Eclipse you can Ctrl+R then type the first few characters of the file name

2. Netbeans SVN doesn't support few nice things like 'overide and update', 'overide and commit'

I was using Netbeans 6.7.1 by the way

Apart from that I really like Netbeans

I committed a few files

I committed a few files before they were ready during my first commits from NetBeans. You can easily add files to an ignore list or deselect files when performing commits.

KomodoEdit

I moved away from Eclipse about 3 months ago or so because:

- I was tired of all the resources it was hogging to support features I didn't use
- It was a _very_ high maintenance application for me. I was constantly plugging things in, unplugging them, updating them, etc. And doing all of that on multiple computers. Pulse (http://poweredbypulse.com) helped, but not enough and it has its own problems.

I tried NetBeans, but I just couldn't get it to feel right in my hands so I stepped all the way back to using text editors: gEdit on my Linux box and TextMate on the Mac. Eventually I settled on Komodo Edit (free). It's cross platform, like me, and I find it to be a nice blend of IDE features and text editor overhead (the snippets are outstanding).

KomodoEdit is very nice

I had given KomodoEdit a quick try. It's responsive and has a clean UI, but it's in a gap I don't really care about. For quick edits, TextMate's light and quick. For longer coding sessions, I want integrated access to version control and phpDoc-based code completion that full IDE provides.

Ultimately, folks should really take a week to evaluate editors to find out which best fits their work habits.

I should add that I absolutely love NetBeans code formatting option. Works great!

BBEdit > Textmate

BBEdit > Textmate

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