By Paul Krill

The Oracle-sponsored NetBeans team on Tuesday announced availability of the open source NetBeans 6.9 IDE featuring JavaFX Composer, a visual layout tool for building JavaFX GUI applications.

The NetBeans IDE is available online. Developers using JavaFX Composer can build, visually edit, and debug rich Internet applications and bind components to various data sources, including Web services, the NetBeans team said.

[ Java founder and longtime Sun employee James Gosling had kind things to say recently about NetBeans 6.9. ]

JavaFX was the Sun Microsystems Java-based entrant into the rich Internet application space. However, JavaFX has lacked the profile of more established rival technologies including Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight. Adding to this competitive landscape is the emergence of HTML5-based technologies for mulitimedia on the Web.

Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, the original force behind NetBeans, earlier this year. Oracle's continued investment in NetBeans was lauded by analyst Al Hilwa of IDC, but he also noted the rough road ahead for JavaFX.

"It is great to see Oracle investing in this IDE, as it certainly has its followers," Hilwa said in an email.

"The effort behind JavaFX is worth watching. I am not seeing a great deal of traction for JavaFX right now. The RIA space seems pretty crowded and there is a sense that JavaFX is a bit too little too late," said Hilwa. "If Oracle is serious about JavaFX, they need to put some serious marketing oomph behind it. Meantime, HTML5 seems to be absorbing developers not committed to Flash or Silverlight right now."

Other features in NetBeans 6.9 include OSGi interoperability for NetBeans Platform applications and support for building OSGi bundles with Maven. With support for OSGi and Swing, NetBeans Platform supports the standard UI toolkit and module system, providing for modular, rich client development, the NetBeans team said.  Spring Framework 3.0 is supported by the IDE as well.