BlueJ To NetBeans — The Next Step

Some of you have heard that the BlueJ team is working with the NetBeans folks on the “NetBeans IDE / BlueJ Edition”. Some clarification may be in order: what is it, and – as importantly – what is it not?


One of the larger projects we have been working on over the last few months is a cooperation with the NetBeans development team in Prague. The goal of this work is to create an IDE that makes it easier to migrate from BlueJ (an educational IDE) into NetBeans (an full, professional IDE).

And here is already one of the crucial points: the goal is to make migration easier. The goal is not to replicate BlueJ’s functionality in NetBeans.

Thus, the NetBeans / BlueJ edition will not have all the features BlueJ has. On the other hand, of course, it has a lot more features.

The NetBeans / BlueJ Edition is a modified version of NetBeans that looks simpler when you first open it, and it uses BlueJ-ish icons in some of its interface (a screenshot is here). The goal is this: When a BlueJ users first opens this version of NetBeans, there should be nothing on the screen that you cannot make sense of. Everything you see should be reasonable clear. And: you should be able to find anything you need to edit/compile/execute a small application.

Some more features:

  • This NetBeans version can open and create BlueJ projects.
  • BlueJ projects can be converted to standard NetBeans projects.
  • NetBeans will find and use the libraries that have been configured in BlueJ.
  • NetBeans and BlueJ will produce Javadoc documentation in the same place and format, so that they will be able to display each other’s documentation.
  • A project can be opened and edited in NetBeans and BlueJ simultaneously.

Let me just say that again: A project can be opened and edited in NetBeans and BlueJ simultaneously !!

That is really quite nice. If you move to NetBeans, you won’t have the object bench anymore. Most of the time, since you now probably work on larger applications, this is okay. But what if you do want to quickly try something out and miss the object bench? No worries, just open BlueJ on the same project, and fire away. BlueJ and NetBeans both will notice if you edit files in the other environment and keep their files updated appropriately.

And then all the fun can start: Once you are in NetBeans, you can now gradually switch on all the good stuff: auto-completion, refactoring support, CVS support, and all the other countless goodies that NetBeans provides.

I like it.

So, I can hear you ask: where can I get it? A beta release is currently available here. And a full release should not be far away anymore – watch this space!

5 thoughts on “BlueJ To NetBeans — The Next Step

  1. I use NetBeans for projects and BlueJ for teaching, so I first thought of one IDE with the best of the 2 worlds. But it’s nevertheless a great thing.
    As a special NetBeans 5.0 version – what’s about future releases, for example NetBeans 5.5?

  2. NetBeans BlueJ Edition is a great idea! However, I am missing an UML editor in the current 5.0 version. Since UML features will be included in the Netbeans 5.5 Enterprise version, it might be possible to include so functionality in the next NetBeans BlueJ release.

  3. Pingback: Michael’s Random Thoughts » NetBeans IDE / BlueJ Edition — it’s here

  4. Ulrich: Regarding the newer NetBeans versions: I expect that the BlueJ Edition will be updated along with the main NetBeans editions. I.e., some time after the release of NetBeans 5.5, there will also be a BlueJ edition based on 5.5.

  5. Pingback: migrate to Netbeans - Java Forums

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