While the Java 7 specification is not expected to be finalized until July, Oracle will supply patches and updates to NetBeans 7 to cover any changes until its final ratification, Mills said.
Beyond support of Java 7, NetBeans 7.0 features a number of other enhancements.
The company has expanded its set of tools for production development. NetBeans is now compatible with version 3.0 of the open source Maven build system, which is used to manage multiple software projects. NetBeans also supports the latest version of JUnit testing framework, 4.8.2. And, for the first time, NetBeans has been integrated with the Git version control software.
This is also the first version of the software to include a set of annotations that would allow developers to use NetBeans as a run-time platform, a feature offered by the competing open source Eclipse IDE for several years. "It provides all those bits you always need for any sort of complex desktop application. You have the core part built for you in a pre-built fashion," Mills said.
Another group of improvements center around greater integration with other Oracle products. This is the first version of the software that allows developers to control Oracle's WebLogic application server from directly within the IDE itself, which can be handy in debugging a new program, Mills said. Oracle has also provided a number of tools to more easily build the connectivity between an application and an Oracle database.
NetBeans 7.0 is a free download for Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, Linux, and Oracle Solaris.