Java, NetBeans 5.0 and MacOSX

It’s been a long time since I last coded anything in Java or used NetBeans, a year and a half in fact. It’s was like riding a bicycle for the first time in years… I fell over a few times, didn’t have much direction and was a bit wobbly, but eventually it all started coming back to me. (Cue Celine Dion It’s All Coming Back To Me Now…)
I’ve been longing to get back to coding on a system that doesn’t take 15 minutes to start, crash for no apparent reason, eat my code or require a reboot of the machine it’s running on at least 3 times a day to keep things responsive. (responsive being a relative term, on my development machine I consider it responsive when I only type about 4 words ahead of what is being displayed.)

So I downloaded NetBeans 5.0 for Mac OSX (was the first one to finish, Linux and Windows versions are busy downloading…) Installed it and started messing around. What I love about Java is that I can code on Windows, Linux, Mac OSX, Solaris or any number of other operating systems and that my code will run on any of them without any changes. NetBeans brings all the niceties to the development like drag & drop UI design, syntax highlighting, interactive debugging and auto completion.

My first impressions of the new NetBeans 5.0 IDE is WOW!!! I last used NetBeans 3.something and the changes are extremely impressive. The new interface builder is really nice to use and in general the IDE is very nice easy to use and all the bits and pieces fit nicely together. The addition of things like built in ant support is really nice too. It also looks very nice on Mac OSX and doesn’t look out of place on it. The new version of Java (1.5.something) is also alot faster then the old 1.4 I was coding for about a year and half ago.

I’m also very impressed with how well my Mac Mini has coped with running NetBeans. It’s only got 512mb Ram and is a core solo processor so I didn’t expect alot from it. But right now it’s running Netbeans, Camino, Safari, iTunes (Playing Katie Melua) and iChat and it’s not even breaking a sweat… very impressive. My poor Windows laptop comes to a grinding halt the minute I open Visual Studio 2005 so this is really impressive.

At the moment I’m making alot of use of the web as I try remember how exactly to code in Java. I use web (google mostly) to help shake 1.5years of cobwebs and dust out and kick start my memory as to how things are done in java. Thankfully C# (the language I use most of the time.) is very close to Java so it’s not all lost. My biggest problem is trying to remember where in the java class libraries things are kept, I’m so used to .NET’s that I keep doing silly things like System.IO. or Windows.Forms. but I’m getting there…
So what made me decide to get back into Java coding? Well, while I was in the shower yesterday I came up with an idea for a piece of software that I would really like to have after a rather exhaustive search of the web I was unable to find what I was looking for, so I decided to write it. One of the biggest requirements for the software though is that it run on Mac OSX, Linux and Windows would be nice if I could port it to my cell phone. This is doable using languages other than Java but I know Java and have used it before so I thought I would give it a try again.

So whats this marvelous idea that came to me in the shower? Thats between me and the dust bunnies and they’ve promised to keep it a secret for the moment…