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Issue 28
NetBeans Edge, Issue 28
Since NetBeans IDE 5.0, extending NetBeans IDE has become a simplified, intuitive, and enjoyable experience. NetBeans IDE has always been extendable in theory, but it has never been easy to do so in practice. NetBeans IDE 5.0 leverages the modularity of the platform and uses wizards and templates to create a logical and smooth starting point for your module development work.

Roman Strobl's Discovering the Power of NetBeans Platform flash presentation on JavaLobby shows that the NetBeans Platform is indeed a very powerful framework on which you can easily build your applications and modules. This provides a good starting point for novices and experts alike.

This issue of NetBeans Edge focuses on some of the modules that you can use with NetBeans IDE 5.0. They can all be installed from inside NetBeans IDE itself (as explained below) and offer a range of new features, such as enabling you to plan your work inside the IDE or fix problems in your code more quickly and easily.

   Robert Demmer
User Tasks Module
usertasksII - 6kTim Lebedkov's User Tasks module is an extension to the NetBeans built-in Tasklist. Tim's module lets you record your own planning tasks. You can add tasks using the "Add Task" action in the editor margin context menu. Tasks have priority, description, date created, last modification date, etc properties. You can choose which properties are visible in the tasklist, and sort by any column. The task list is stored in a standard format (iCal) which can be read by other calendar applications, such as Evolution, Korganizer, and others. You can also export the tasklist to HTML or XML.

Tasks can have an associated file position (filename and line number) or a URL. Then, when you select the "Go to Task" action on the task, the given position is shown in the source editor or a browser window. A task associated with a file will also be shown on the error stripe in the editor.

The User Tasks module can be found on the NetBeans 5.0 Update Center (installation instructions).

[User Tasks Module Home Page]   
Sandip Chitale's Modules for Java Editing
pic-sandipII - 28kSandip Chitale contributed a nice collection of modules that help you write Java code more quickly, powerfully, and efficiently. There are Flash demos available for three of his modules: one for Mark Occurrences and another that shows the Java File Structure and Java Type Hierarchy modules.

Sandip's contributions include:

Line Tools
Move/copy a whole line of text up/down in the editor with a single keystroke.
more info...

Code Template Tools
Code template management per mime type, ${selection}, ${clipboard-content} custom parameters, 36 clipboards implemented as named registers (A-Z and 0-9).
more info...

Camel Case Selection and Movement
Move Caret/Selection sensitive to Java Camel Case syntax identifiers. Quickly create Java parameter/variable (array) declarations of various kinds with Class name derived name of variable/parameter.
more info...

RegExp Highlighter
Highlight regular expressions in editor window. Distinct highlight color for groups in the regular expression.
more info...

Java File Structure
Show pop up structure of a Java File/Type. Shows structure of class/interface of current file as well as type under Caret. Supports filters. Shows JavaDoc.
more info...

Java Type Hierarchy
Show pop up hierarchy of a Java File/Type. Supports hierarchy of class/interface of current Java file as well as type under Caret. Supports filters. Shows JavaDoc.
more info...

Mark Occurrences
Highlight occurrences of declaration of fields, parameters, methods, classes, method returns (normal and exceptional as well as exceptions in throws clause).
more info...

These modules can be found on the NetBeans 5.0 Update Center Beta (installation instructions).

[Interview with Sandip Chitale]   
The Jackpot Project
jackpot logo - 18kTom Ball's Jackpot module adds the capability to re-engineer Java source code to the NetBeans IDE.
"Re-engineering" means in this case to safely make sweeping changes to potentially large bodies of source code, such as converting code to no longer use deprecated methods, or
simplifying overly complex conditional code. These changes are made either with custom Java transformation classes, or via "rules files" which use a custom Java pattern matching language. The Jackpot module also provides IDE support for creating, editing and running new rules files.

What makes Jackpot different from other refactoring tools?

1. Most refactoring tools are fairly difficult to extend, so a lot of effort has gone into making this easy to do in Jackpot. Jackpot provides a pattern-matching (rule) language for Java statements and expressions. These extensions can be easily shared across developer teams and communities.

2. The data model that Jackpot searches and transforms has more detailed and correct information about the source code than most other refactoring tools. This is because it utilizes every scrap of information the javac compiler gleans during its parsing and attribution phases. Most refactoring tools use parse trees and many resolve symbol references; but it is extremely difficult to determine Java semantic information such as type attribution correctly, especially with the new language additions such as generic types.

The Jackpot module can be found on the NetBeans 5.0 Update Center Beta (installation instructions).

For more information about the Jackpot Project and Tom Ball you can read our recent interview.

[Project Jackpot Homepage]   
Module Development Update 1
platform - 3kNetBeans IDE 5.0 introduced comprehensive support for developing modules and applications based on the NetBeans Platform. It provides project templates and various wizards and tools to make the lives of NetBeans module developers much easier. The goals of the Module Development Update are to address some of the most frequently requested features missing in the 5.0 release, make the Module Suite project type and Module project type more consistent with the standard project types, provide better protection for user configuration errors, and general bug fixes.

The module comes with its own helpset, which includes a "What's New in 5.0 Update 1?" help topic. You should especially give this module a look if you're interested in extending the Options window, adding JavaHelp help sets, adding support for an update center, or working with module installers. Also, the module is able to generate an autoupdate descriptor for you, which is a requirement when you want to provide your own update center.

The Module Development Update 1 can be found on the NetBeans 5.0 Update Center (installation instructions).

For more information on developing NetBeans modules you can continue here.

Update of Matisse GUI Builder
matisse - 10kThe NetBeans 6.0 release is still far away, but a considerable number of new features have already been implemented. The Matisse team returned from JavaOne recently where they presented some of these features. The feedback was quite positive so it was decided to make them available for NetBeans 5.0 users who do not use daily development builds of 6.0.

Among the new features you will find improved internationalization support, possibility to preview the GUI design in different look and feels, support for GroupLayout in Java 6 (Mustang), help bar showing context hints, and more. Numerous bug fixes are included as well.

The Matisse Update Pack can be found on the NetBeans 5.0 Update Center Beta (installation instructions).

[More Information]   
How to Install a Module from the Update Center?
The IDE's Update Center wizard allows you to update your IDE's installed modules dynamically. When you connect to the Update Center, the IDE checks to see if there are new modules or new versions of already installed modules available. If new or updated modules are available, you can select, download, and install the modules you need. You can also choose from several Update Centers that offer different types of modules, like experimental new modules or old modules that are no longer in regular distribution.

1. Choose Tools > Update Center from the main menu to open the Update Center wizard.

2. Select the update centers that you wish to check for modules and click Next to connect to them.
* Note* If you are looking for modules on the "NetBeans Update Center Beta" be sure that you have checked the box.

3. In the Select Modules to Install panel, select the modules that you require. Version information and a module description are displayed for the selected modules in the pane below.

4. Click the > button to add the desired modules to the Include in Install panel. Then click Next.

5. Complete the remaining pages of the wizard to install the module.

Start Developing Modules
Resources for learning about how to create modules that extend NetBeans IDE have also been enhanced for NetBeans IDE 5.0. The Platform Tutorials site provides a long list of tutorials that take you on detailed tours of various NetBeans APIs, and shows you how to use them.

Once you have created modules, you can share them with others. You can distribute them by, for example, making them available on nbextras.org and/or the NetBeans module catalog.

Happy Coding and be sure to share your experiences with the NetBeans community!

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