NetBeans is an open source project.  The two base products are NetBeans IDE and NetBeans Platform. Both products are free for commercial and noncommercial use. The source code to both is available to anyone to reuse and modify as they see fit within the terms of Sun Public License.  Since it's a pure Java/Swing app NetBeans run on any desktop systems which has a JDK implemetation.

With the release of version 4.0 at the end of 2004 NetBeans is experiencing a big increase in its user base.  Within the year 2005 the number of active users estimated based on the Update server hits has increased three times to over 200,000.  The core infrastructure went through a major redesign.  NetBeans now uses Apache Ant, the de facto standard build tool for Java, as its native project and build system.  This allows the users to run the build inside and outside of the IDE with the exact same result. There is no proprietary project metadata, no lock-in.  The windowing system was also rewritten from scratch.  A lot of efforts were invested into improving usability and performance.  In many aspects 4.0+ NetBeans can be considered as a completely new product.

There are a lot of innovations happening at NetBeans in the last two years.  The Profiler based on Sun Labs JFluid research project and the new Matisse Swing layout builder are two prime examples.  By using a special on-the-fly bytecode instrumentation technique the Profiler is able to profile really big Java apps, for example the whole J2EE application server which is impossible with the traditional Java profilers.  Matisse created a lot of buzz recently since for the first time users can design Swing GUI with the same ease as Visual Basic programmers. Other notable features are supports for developing servlets, JSP, EJB and Web Services applications and mobile phone MIDlets.

The development of NetBeans follow a few core principles

* "It just works".  Out of the box the IDE supports all Java technologies from Java ME, Java SE to Java EE.
* Usability of the product and productivity of the users are the key.
* Listen to your users.  This is a strong culture at NetBeans project.  It has vibrant user community who significantly influence the future directions.
* Innovations.  The world doesn't need yet another me-too Java IDE.  See the examples of Profiler and Matisse.
* Stick to the core value of the Java platform: write once run anywhere (where Java is available :-)

NetBeans has modular architecture.  Features are implemented as modules on top of the NetBeans Platform which manages the registration and lifecycles of plugin modules and provides core services to the modules.  The Platform is IDE agnostic and can also be used as a Rich Client Platform for building pure Java desktop Swing applications.

NetBeans was made open source by Sun Microsystems in June 2000.  Sun remains the project sponsor.

For more information about NetBeans see http://www.netbeans.org/

--TrungDucTran