The NetBeans IDE/BlueJ Edition, like the original NetBeans IDE, is a free, open-source IDE.
However, the BlueJ Edition is an educational tool that provides a migration path for students transitioning from educational tools to a full-featured, professional IDE, officials at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun said.
BlueJ is a programming environment developed at the University of Kent, United Kingdom, and Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, aimed at helping to train beginning programmers in Java.
The platform provides educational tools, such as visualization and interaction facilities that help developers learn object-oriented programming concepts.
The academics initially released BlueJ in 1999, and it is now used in more than 600 colleges and universities around the world, Sun said.
In an interview with eWEEK in March 2006, James Gosling, a Sun vice president and the creator of the Java language, said: "The hottest thing in tools right now that I can think of is around the folks from BlueJ and the folks from NetBeans getting together, to not only get people started with development, but to then take them from novice stages to serious development."
Gosling spoke with eWEEK at the Sun Worldwide Education and Research Conference in New York.
Sun officials said there have been more than 10 million downloads of NetBeans.
"I have been waiting for the NetBeans/BlueJ edition to come out since I saw how fantastic the Beta was to use," said Jason Morin, Math and Computer Science Instructor, Overland High School, Cherry Creek School District, Aurora, Colo., in a statement.
"NetBeans/BlueJ is now used in my Advanced Placement Computer Science class. I tried Eclipse, but it is a nightmare for teachers to manage, and Eclipse is difficult to grasp for students who are new to programming.
"I wanted and needed a transition to a professional IDE tool, and that is exactly what the NetBeans/BlueJ edition provides."
Meanwhile, also in a statement, Laurie Tolson, vice president of Java Development and Platform Engineering at Sun, said: "While BlueJ allows teachers to instruct students on object oriented development—now the standard introductory phase of learning to program—the NetBeans/BlueJ edition provides a logical next step enabling students to extend their applications beyond simple models while learning to use a professional development environment."