Configuring NetBeans

Last updated on
9 February 2018

NetBeans is a platform-independent, Java-based open source integrated development environment (IDE) which supports a wide variety of languages, including PHP.

In addition to its speed and refactoring capabilities, it offers the following:

  • Formats your code according to Drupal Coding Standards
  • It recognizes Drupal specific file extensions (.info, .module .install etc.)
  • Replaces tabs with spaces
  • Stores line breaks in UNIX format
  • Character encoding of files can be UTF-8 by default
  • Provides autocompletion with hint support for functions and classes project-wide, including Drupal core (provided core is in your project directory
  • Code templates available for Drupal hooks
  • Supports GIT, SVN and Mecurial version control systems out of the box

Note: These directions have been mostly updated to correspond to the current version of Netbeans (7.1.1 at this time). Most images are still from Netbeans 6.9 and were not changed if the setup was not significantly different. (LoMo — March 8, 2012)

Note: Windows users see to set up Netbeans, Xdebug, Drupal Dev Tools and Templates with Windows 7/XP and Acquia Dev Desktop (c11a - 11/21/2012)


Download the latest stable version of NetBeans, either the PHP bundle or the bundle labeled “All” (support for Java SE/EE and C/C++ as well). The page will offer the right version for you based on your browser’s operating system, but you can also select other platforms from the top-right drop-down menu.

After downloading, follow the instructions given by the installer. When the installation is complete, locate the Tools > Plugins menu item, choose the Installed tab, and activate the PHP plugin, if not already active.

NetBeans plugins

Setting up Drupal Coding Standards

After you have activated the PHP plugin, go to Preferences (or Tools > Options) > Editor > Formatting, choose PHP in the “Language” drop-down, and choose Tabs And Indents from the “Category” drop-down. You should uncheck the "Use All Language Settings" checkbox in order to continue. After that use the following settings:

  • Expand tabs to spaces: (check)
  • Number of Spaces per indent: 2
  • Tab size: 2
  • Right margin: 80
  • Initial Indentation: 0
  • Continuation Indentation: 2 (if a new row is started within a condition)
  • Array Declaration Indentation: 2

NetBeans tabs and indents

After that, choose Alignment from the category drop-down, and set "else and elseif" and "catch" to start in a new row:

NetBeans alignment

Choose Braces from category drop-down and set everything to "Same line":

NetBeans braces

Choose Blank Lines from category drop-down and set 1-1 blank lines to be used before and after functions:

NetBeans blank lines

The last category is "Spaces". You should use the following settings here:

  • Before keywords
    • Check while, else, catch
  • Before parentheses
    • Uncheck Method / Function Declaration, Method / Function Call, Array Declaration
    • Check if, for, while, catch, switch
  • Around operators
    • Uncheck Unary and Object operators
    • Check Binary, Ternary, String concatenation, Key => Value and Assignment operators
  • Check all options in "Before Left Braces"
  • Uncheck all options in "Within parentheses"
  • Other
    • Uncheck “Before Comma” and “Before Semicolon”; check all others

When you have finished these steps, the code formatting will be just as required by the Drupal Coding Standards.

Setting up Drupal-specific file extensions and Drupal core functions

Go to Preferences (or Tools > Options) > Miscellaneous > Files, and click New on the Files tab. Add the following extensions one by one while associating the appropriate file type (MIME):

  • module
  • install
  • test
  • profile
  • theme
  • engine

Associated file type (MIME) type should be text/x-php5 (for PHP files).
Finally, add the "info" and "po" extensions with MIME type: text/plain.

NetBeans files

Now NetBeans will recognize these filetypes. The next step is to allow it to autocomplete Drupal core functions. For this to happen you need to download Drupal and extract the files to a folder (you don’t need to install it, you just need the files, so that NetBeans can read the functions), go to Preferences (or Tools > Options) > PHP > General, and add the folder to the Global include path list.

If you are also developing Drush-compatible modules, you should add the Drush folder to this list, to be able to use Drush functions.

NetBeans lib

Setting up Drupal hook templates

You just need to download the nb_templates from:

  • Win7 - unzip to C:\Users\\documents\
  • WinXP - unzip to C:\Documents and Settings\\My Documents
  • Linux users if you download the tar.gz file it will still include a .zip file once it has been extracted.

The unzip will place the files in a directory call nb_templates. Inside that directory find and rename to

Installation to NetBeans instructions are included in the README.txt.

  1. Rename to
  2. Go to NetBeans > Preferences > Editor > Code Templates > Import
  3. Browse
  4. Select Editor > Code Templates
  5. Press OK

Please note that the import process will require a Netbeans IDE restart.

NetBeans templates

Using GIT version control system

Git-Support in Netbeans is included since Version 7.x (no additional plugin needed).
When there is no Git repository in a Netbeans project you use can make a "git init" via Menu "Team" > "Git" > "Initialize Repository ...".
In the Project Browser Netbeans is showing metadata at Project name and marks file status inside the repository like "modified". A Git-context menu is providing commands to work with the repository. So you don't have to leave Netbeans to commit code.


After you have set up localhost, and installed your Drupal, create a new PHP project with File > New Project, PHP, PHP Application with Existing Sources.

NetBeans new project

After clicking “Next”, you can set your project’s properties. I suggest using the sites folder of your installed Drupal as Sources folder. Select 5.3 for PHP version and UTF-8 for encoding. You don’t need to store Netbeans metadata in a separate directory.

NetBeans project data

Now you can click “Finish”, and you will see your newly-created project. After creating a new file, you can use the autocomplete, and you are ready to use your NetBeans for Drupal development.

NetBeans autocomplate

Helpful Tools (Plugins and Helpers)

Visit for an overview of a simple to install and use Netbeans 8.2+ plugin that helps automate some of the above including new module files templates.

The Hungarian version of this page at here