In the NetBeans Platform (i.e., not the tool NetBeans IDE, but the Swing framework beneath it [and many others]), 6.9 brings many enhancements. These, in my opinion, are the most important:
  1. NetBeans Platform as a product. As announced by Jim Parkinson, Sun exec at the time, the post 6.8 scene, in terms of the NetBeans project, is markedly different from before, where there really only was one official project, that is, the IDE. That heralds a totally new vision to the pre-6.9 world: "With the release of NetBeans 6.8, you'll see a more public effort to support the NetBeans Platform as a product. This is being driven by overwhelming support, by our customers and the open-source user community". (More on that here).
  2. OSGi Interoperability. Now you can (a) create OSGi bundles in your NetBeans Platform application, (2) import OSGi bundles into your application, (3) convert all your NetBeans modules to OSGi bundles. With that, the standard module system (OSGi) and the standard UI toolkit (Swing) are supported, for the first time, both simultaneously within the same framework, i.e., the NetBeans Platform.
  3. NetBeans Platform Samples. The 6.9 release packages a set of complete samples, in addition to the standard Feed Reader and Paint Sample. Of particular value is the CRUD Sample (built from this tutorial), which represents the most typical business application on the NetBeans Platform, i.e., including database connectivity, save, undo/redo, and much more besides. Other samples are a REST client, Felix integration, and Equinox integration.
  4. Separated Lookup API. The most frequently used NetBeans API, the Lookup API, is now within its own module, rather than within the grab bag "Utilities API". That's a much more convenient place to put it and it was always kind of odd to need to explain that the key NetBeans API class was found in a utilities module. (More on that here.)
    NetBeans Platform 6.9 Developer's Guide. Packt's brand new offering NetBeans Platform 6.9 Developer's Guide, once published, will really tie everything together and present the NetBeans Platform coherently, showing you how to build an application from scratch, while highlighting the most important APIs and features that the NetBeans Platform has to offer.

Other new features relating to NetBeans Platform 6.9 include the simplified ModuleInstall lifecycle, the new installer support, the enhancement in the layer view whereby deleted items are crossed out in the explorer view, and many other features highlighted in the new and noteworhy, as well as in the API changes document.
Do you have particular NetBeans Platform 6.9 features that you've been enjoying? Or specific features that you still find to be missing? Feel free to leave a comment here (and make sure to have created an issue for anything you're commenting on as being missing)!

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