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Review: 10 JavaScript editors and IDEs put to the test

Martin Heller | Feb. 7, 2014
WebStorm and Sublime Text lead a field of diverse and capable tools for JavaScript programming

The defining feature of NetBeans 7.4 is support for mobile Web development with the Apache Cordova framework. Cordova, formerly known as PhoneGap, allows you to write code in JavaScript that is later compiled to native code for iOS or Android. NetBeans 7.4 also supports the Android and iOS browsers.

NetBeans ships with drivers for Java DB, MySQL, Oracle, and PostgreSQL database servers. You can also register any other JDBC driver with the IDE. The NetBeans IDE lets you connect to a database, view current database connections, select or add a driver for your database, enter SQL statements and see the results, run SQL scripts on a connected database, migrate table schemas across databases from different vendors, and create, browse, and edit database structures by running SQL statements or using a graphic view. You can also save a local copy of a database schema for offline use.

The NetBeans IDE supports JavaScript, as well as Java, C/C++, XML, HTML5, PHP, Groovy, Javadoc, and JSP. Version 7.4 adds support for mobile Web development using the Cordova/PhoneGap framework. The JavaScript support includes syntax highlighting, autocompletion, code folding, code analysis, debugging, and unit testing. (Click the image for the complete view.)

I tested the NetBeans database explorer on a MySQL database and found that it worked well, within its specifications. It doesn't have the convenient query-building features you get in Alpha Anywhere or SQL Server Management Studio, but it does the job if you know your SQL.

As far as I can determine, NetBeans lacks any JavaScript profiling, although it can profile Java applications and EJB modules. NetBeans doesn't currently seem to support Node.js, and I don't see that coming in the NetBeans 8.0 release, which is planned for April. While NetBeans can refactor Java and PHP, it can't refactor JavaScript.

Overall, NetBeans is a strong contender for JavaScript/HTML5/CSS3 development, especially if you're also doing Java, PHP, or C++ development. If you don't have the budget for WebStorm or Sublime Text, you'll find that NetBeans does the job.

  • Free open source
  • Integrates well with JSP
  • Many plug-ins are available for Eclipse
  • Good JavaScript editing, navigation, and debugging
  • Supports editing multiple selections simultaneously
  • Autocompletion and calltips for JavaScript and other languages, and for libraries such as jQuery
  • Auto-insertion of braces and highlighting of matching braces
  • Integrated support for Subversion, Mercurial, Git, CVS, Perforce, and Bazaar
  • Free open source
  • Supports syntax highlighting, autocompletion, code folding, and code analysis
  • Does debugging and unit testing
  • Integrates source code control, issue tracking, and team servers
  • Supports mobile Web development using the Cordova/PhoneGap framework
  • Code diagnostics return false positives
  • No code folding
  • Slow startup and tepid performance
  • Lacks JavaScript code checking
  • Slower than Sublime Text but faster than Eclipse or NetBeans
  • Relatively slow, especially at startup, compared to Sublime Text or WebStorm
  • Limited selection of plug-ins compared to Eclipse


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