Netbeans is arguably easier but you will learn more by designing GUIs by hand. Sometimes netbeans has a difficult interface to use, but for most issues, it is probably easier. I prefer not to deal with the netbeans issues though, and I do it by hand.
In my experience hand coded user interfaces are usually easier to maintain and perform better than machine coded ones.
That said, the initial cost of developing them can be higher, especially if the people doing it aren't experts in the use of Swing (or whichever library is used).
For myself, I usually create the initial screen layouts using a graphical editor (usually IntelliJ these days, but have used Netbeans and JBuilder in the past), then modify and expand on that code by editing the generated files by hand (often to the point where little of the original code is left and the graphical editor doesn't understand anything about it any longer).
That gives me a working prototype quickly, while still yielding the benefits in maintainability and flexibility of handcrafted code.
Of course doing so requires a certain level of experience in handcrafting GUI code, which is hard to get without actually writing that code from scratch.
It is therefore vital (and tutorials often seem to forget about that) to teach people to write code by hand before showing them how to do it using some tool (but then, the people writing those tutorials often do so with the idea to push the tools sold/provided by their employing companies as at least part of their incentive to create a tutorial in the first place).