Comments on NetBeans 7.0 Proposed Features

Recently I started re-visiting the NetBeans development blog pages to see what is being planned for NetBeans 7.0. I was pleased to see more content than I expected about proposed features, improvements, and fixes. Several interesting items I wanted to highlight and/or comment on are as follows…

Database Support

The New Database Connection dialog will be improved. Currently it takes up a little too much screen space (at least on WinXP), as shown in Figure 1 below.

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Figure 1

The proposed New Database Connection dialog will look a little more condensed. Interestingly, it will also contain a Test Connection button which will let you test the JDBC connection for closing the dialog window, as shown in Figure 2 below.

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Figure 2

Insert Records

This proposed feature will make it a little easier to insert records into a table using the data grid of results. Currently, the data grid displayed once you execute a SQL query only allows you to insert a single record via a popup dialog window. It displays a typical single record form of all the table’s fields. This prevents you from quickly adding multiple records without going through many clicks and steps. In the new Insert Record dialog, detailed here http://wiki.netbeans.org/IEC.DataManagement.InsertRecord.Screens, you will be able to quickly add multiple records in a data grid before committing them to the database.

You will also be able to copy rows from a spreadsheet into the Insert Records data grid. After you finished “adding” the records you will be able to click OK and see the number of successes and failures. One suggestion I have would be if there are any failures, to prompt the user to view the data in the Insert Record data grid again to attempt to correct the data values and re-submit.

I also liked the popup calendar for date fields, as shown in Figure 3. Currently it is a bit of a pain to remember what format to enter. It will be interesting to see if different database date formats will be selected depending on the type of database currently being used via the connection.

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Figure 3

MySQL Documentation

It should be no surprise with Sun’s acquisition of MySQL that there is talk of bundling the MySQL help documentation into the NetBeans help menu. I’m a fan of making this a separate module that can be optionally installed, instead of bundled with the default installs. One thing I thought sounded interesting is enabling SQL code completion suggestions specific to MySQL. You can review these items here : http://wiki.netbeans.org/MySQLDocumentationInCompletion

Export Data

The new data grid in NetBeans 6.5 that displays the results from a SQL query is great. One thing that I didn’t like, that is available in other database tools, is the ability to export the displayed results to multiple formats. I’m glad to see the NetBeans team is considering providing the ability to export the data results to XML and CSV. It would also be nice to have the ability to export it to MS Excel and OpenOffice Calc.

Naming Connections

Currently, connections are displayed using their connection URLs under the Databases node in the Services window. The proposed feature, detailed here : http://www.netbeans.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=144112, would allow you to provide an alias or meaningful name that would be displayed under the Databases node such as “My App – Development DB”, “My App – Staging DB”, etc. It’s only marked as a P3 nice to have, so if this feature sounds useful to you, I would suggest voting for it.

To see a full list of database-related features proposed, go here http://wiki.netbeans.org/DatabaseFeaturesForNB70

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