At least in Germany Netbeans wasn't really popular. Even 2-3 years ago, developers just didn't cared about Netbeans - some even didn't heard about it. Frankly speaking, until version 5.0 Netbeans wasn't actually competetive, comparing it to the alternatives. Netbeans versions 5.0 and 5.5 changed the game: the Matisse GUI builder and superb Java EE 5 / JSF support drew some attention - however there were still some rough edges like relatively slow performance, and not that good editor. Both were significantly improved in the 6.0 version, performance was further improved in 6.1. The editor became really good - similar to Eclipse, but with some nice enhancements (try e.g. strg+enter).
What I observe, however, is the (actually huge) adoption of Netbeans behind the scenes. It remembers me at the old Eclipse 1.0 days. In meetings, lunches someone mentions the "coolness" of Netbeans and his private experiences with it. Whats new here: sometimes such a chat turns into introduction of Netbeans into the company. In the first step as complemention, then as "the only IDE you need".
Netbeans seems to ignite some passion as well. Developers without biaz just love it, the others not so. IDEs, however, were always religious topics - since the advent of Java.
Another phenomenon is the growing adoption of ...the Netbeans Platform. There are several (German) books available already. Tutorials and sample applications help to start. Netbeans Platform could become even more interesting, Java FX is based on Java 2D and Swing. The same technology as Netbeans RCP. The Matisse GUI Builder, Data Binding, build-in WebStart and packaging/deployment support makes it interesting for production as well.
The "esoterical" folks love Netbeans too - it comes with really good SOA and ESB support.
...and I like Netbeans because of it "out-of-the-box" experience. You can just download it and start. Netbeans is perfectly suitable for trainings as well. It is absolutely possible to setup the IDE with Java EE 5 environment in less than 5 minutes. And I like to switch between Eclipse and Netbeans back and forth - it's fun experience. It's good to be in the Java land :-).
[This entry was originally posted here]