Choosing a Java Development Tool

Several different integrated development environments are available for Java programming. NetBeans includes tools you will use all the time: a text editor, compiler, graphical user interface designer, file archiving tool, and project manager. The IDE also includes tools that aren't essential now, as you're getting started with the language, but may become indispensable later, including a debugger, Java servlet and JavaServer Pages editing and testing tool, and code versioning system. NetBeans supports Java 2 version 5 and can be configured to support other versions, so you can continue using it as Sun releases new versions of Java.

Installing NetBeans

NetBeans works by using the Java Development Kit behind the scenes. For this reason, you must have both NetBeans and the JDK installed on your system. Sun makes this easy by offering them as a "bundle" that can be downloaded and installed together. To see what versions are available for download, visit the web page When you visit the page for JDK 5, you should be able to download the bundle. At the time of this writing, the product is called the JDK 5.0 Update 3 with NetBeans 4.1 Bundle.

Did you Know?

By the time you visit the page, the name of this product may be different—Sun renames products frequently. Anything that's called a NetBeans "bundle" is probably what you need.

The NetBeans bundle is currently available for the following platforms:

  • Windows 98, ME, NT, XP, 2000, and Server 2003 (though Sun only states that it has been tested with XP Professional, 2000 Professional with Service Pack 3, and NT 4.0 with Service Pack 6)
  • Solaris SPARC and Intel
  • Linux

The Windows and Linux versions of NetBeans require a computer with a Pentium III processor that is 500 MHz or faster, around 600MB of free disk space, and 256MB of memory.

Did you Know?

There is no Macintosh version of NetBeans on Sun's site, but you can download it from Apple by visiting the website netbeans.html. Apple also offers a free version of the JDK and XCode, an integrated development environment. To find out more about Apple's Java coding tools, visit the website

To set up NetBeans, you must download and run an installation program (or install it from a CD). After you have downloaded the file, you're ready to set it up on your system.

Running the Installation Wizard

To install up the NetBeans/JDK bundle on a Windows system, double-click the installation file icon or click Start, Run from the Windows taskbar to find and run the file. An installation wizard guides you through the process of setting up the software. If you accept Sun's terms and conditions for using NetBeans and the JDK, you'll be asked where to install the program, as shown in Screenshot C.1.

Screenshot C.1. Choosing a destination folder for NetBeans.

[View full size image]Java ScreenShot

The wizard suggests a folder where the bundle should be installed. In Screenshot C.1, the wizard suggests the folder C:\Program Files\netbeans-4.1. If you want to pick a different folder, click Browse and use the Open dialog box to find and select a location. After you have chosen the desired folder, click Next to continue. The installation wizard may ask whether files ending with the .java and .nbm extensions should be associated with the software. These files are Java source code files and NetBeans modules files—check the boxes to make it possible to open these files in NetBeans by double-clicking them in a folder. The wizard displays the folder where NetBeans will be installed and the amount of space required (107MB in the current release). Click Next to begin installation.