By Craig Buckler

What’s New in NetBeans 7.3: HTML5!

By Craig Buckler

Owing to my rapidly increasing age I’ve used many, many IDEs and text editors over the years. Visual Studio, Aptana, Eclipse, HomeSite, CoffeeCup, Bluefish, Komodo, Vim, Crimson, jEdit, TextPad, PSPad, ConTEXT, PHPEdit, ScITE — I’ve probably forgotten more than I remember. Most annoy me. They often miss features I want or add bloat I don’t need. My current editor of choice is Notepad++: it’s simple, lightweight and very configurable.

Historically, HTML editors have been fairly awful. Many IDEs forced you to create dumb projects, insisted on particular doctypes, or favored deprecated tags. JavaScript editing could be worse: the editor programmers didn’t understand the language so even basic features such as function lists could fail.

Fortunately, the situation has improved and NetBeans 7.3 has been released with full support for HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. The cross-platform IDE now includes an HTML project wizard which allows you to select popular boilerplate templates and JavaScript frameworks:

NetBeans HTML5 project

There’s a lightweight internal server, embedded WebKit browser, Chrome integration and responsive web design facilities:

NetBeans Chrome integration

CSS styles can be edited directly or changed within the Inspector-like rule editor:

NetBeans CSS editing

The JavaScript editor has been rewritten to include better code completion, jQuery support and pattern recognition:

NetBeans JavaScript editing

There’s also a new debugger which can analyze code running in the internal browser or Chrome. You can apply breakpoints on lines, when a DOM element changes, when events are raised and when Ajax requests are called. Very useful:

NetBeans JavaScript debugger

Finally, there’s a great browser log which displays exceptions, errors and warnings as they occur:

NetBeans JavaScript log

Don’t forget that NetBeans also provides first-class development facilities for PHP, Java and C/C++. If you’re into that sort of thing.

It’s great to see client side browser technologies finally receiving the tools they deserve. I’m going to give NetBeans another look … will you?

NetBeans is available for free from

  • Brett Rogerson

    I never got into using NetBeans, Notepad++ was my favourite editor for a while as well because of how configurable it is. Yet recently I switched over to using Sublime Text 3. I just found that the shortcuts and package manager and over all quality was a cut above. Felt odd purchasing a text editor mind you, but a per user license instead of per machine is nice.

  • I always enjoyed working on small java projects on NetBeans. It is quite easy to use and very versatile

  • Brendan

    I now want to code html. Just to use Netbeans it is awesome!

  • wow this is good news cant wait to start

  • Steve Armstrong

    Be sure to check out Code Templates under the Preferences pane (Prefrences > Editor > Code Templates). This is my favorite feature as it allows you to type:


    then hit ‘tab’ and have it automagically open up to:

    the cursor will stop in various places for you to fill in code/urls/values and you can hit ‘tab’ to move to the next item in the tag or code snippet. Love it!

    • Oops, I think you had tags in your comment that got swallowed. Can you edit it and add the tags back in with “less-than”/”greater-than” or something (whatever the comments interface will accept)? I’d like to see your example.

  • Chris Rosillo

    If you like NetBeans, do make sure you check out PhpStrom as well.

    I have used both and many other IDEs/text editors…after many years I finally found PhpStorm.

    I’ve introduce it to our team of 6 developers, managing to convince both hardcore NetBeaners and Sublime users to use PhpStrom instead (or in the case of Sublime, along side it when only a quick text editor is required).

    Try it, you might like it!

  • Used netbeans ever since I first started dabbling with code a few years ago. Wouldn’t call myself a professional as all I want is to be able to build a presentable website to sell our holiday accommodation business. I feel using Netbeans has achieved this, and I even enjoy doing it (much to the wife’s disgust when I’m still coding late into the night — oops please don’t quote that bit)!

  • sebastien

    that’s what I didn’t like about Netbeans before . You had to create PHP project. But now, with HTML5 and my cherished HTML5 boilerplate as template at a click of a button… I think Vim is going to take a break.

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