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Sun looks beyond MARS for NetBeans scripting

Pry vi from my cold, dead hands

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PHP is the latest language getting the NetBeans treatment, with a PHP version of Sun Microsystems' open-source environment hitting early access today.

Built on the same generic scripting framework that Sun used for Ruby, the NetBeans PHP bundle includes project management tools with refactoring and code completion to ease deployment. Sun hopes these features will, finally, wean users off Emacs and Bill Joy's vi.

Many have tried before.

Regardless, Sun is not stopping at a PHP integrated development environment; senior director of NetBeans engineering Octavian Tanase promised Reg Dev we will "see a lot more community involvement in bringing dynamic languages to Netbeans."

He stopped short of specifics but hinted Python is next. Sun did, after all, this year hire Python community lead Ted Leung and Jython lead Frank Weirzbicki. Sun has also started talking to individuals in the community about support for Scala. Given Sun's recent history, that's likely to mean more hires.

Also planned "very soon" in NetBeans is the ability to publish work to social networks.

The grand plan is to have more languages tuned to the Java Virtual Machine in general and - importantly for Sun - the Sun software stack. That stack features the Sun-owned MySQL and Solaris with Apache: so Solaris, Apache, MySQL and PHP - SAMP - and MySQL, Apache, Ruby and Solaris - MARS - and so on.

This is the kind of thinking that Microsoft is doing: tuning scripting languages such as Python and Ruby to its underlying libraries, with IronPython and IronRuby.

Tanase said NetBeans will be more compelling than IDEs such as CodeGear's Delphi for PHP and JBuilder 2008 that are also adding scripting and open-source framework, because - with the Solaris and MySQL in SAMP and MARS - Sun has a "complete story".

"You can develop where you want... we want to make it as easy as possible to adopt a language, but at the end of the day it's the ability to deploy on something you trust, and scale, and has support contracts," Tanase said.

Now, if only Sun could get more people to actually build on Solaris and switch from Joy's old editor.®

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