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NetBeans Platform Features

Why would you use the NetBeans Platform? What does the NetBeans Platform give you? Many out-of-the-box components and much else besides.

The main reusable features and components comprising the NetBeans Platform are outlined below.

Module System

The modular nature of a NetBeans Platform application gives you the power to meet complex requirements by combining several small, simple, and easily tested modules encapsulating coarsely-grained application features.

Powerful versioning support helps give you confidence that your modules will work together, while strict control over the public APIs your modules expose will help you create a more flexible application that's easier to maintain.

Since your application can use either standard NetBeans Platform modules or OSGi bundles, you'll be able to integrate third-party modules or develop your own.

Lifecycle Management

Just as application servers, such as GlassFish or WebLogic, provide lifecycle services to web applications, the NetBeans runtime container provide lifecycle services to Java desktop applications.

Application servers understand how to compose web modules, EJB modules, and related artifacts, into a single web application. In a comparable manner, the NetBeans runtime container understands how to compose NetBeans modules into a single Java desktop application.

There is no need to write a main method for your application because the NetBeans Platform already contains one. Also, support is provided for persisting user settings across restart of the application, such as, by default, the size and positions of the windows in the application.

Pluggability, Service Infrastructure, and File System

End users of the application benefit from pluggable applications because these enable them to install modules into their running applications.

NetBeans modules can be installed, uninstalled, activated, and deactivated at runtime, thanks to the runtime container.

The NetBeans Platform provides an infrastructure for registering and retrieving service implementations, enabling you to minimize direct dependencies between individual modules and enabling a loosely coupled architecture (high cohesion and low coupling).

The NetBeans Platform provides a virtual file system, which is a hierarhical registry for storing user settings, comparable to the Windows Registry on Microsoft Windows systems. It also includes a unified API providing stream-oriented access to flat and hierarchical structures, such as disk-based files on local or remote servers, memory-based files, and even XML documents.

Window System, Standardized UI Toolkit, and Advanced Data-Oriented Components

Most serious applications need more than one window. Coding good interaction between multiple windows is not a trivial task. The NetBeans window system lets you maximize/minimize, dock/undock, and drag-and-drop windows, without you providing any code at all.

Swing and JavaFX are the standard UI toolkits on the Java desktop and can be used throughout the NetBeans Platform. Related benefits include the ability to change the look and feel easily via "Look and Feel" support in Swing and CSS integration in JavaFX, as well as the portability of GUI components across all operating systems and the easy incorporation of many free and commercial third-party Swing and JavaFX components.

With the NetBeans Platform you're not constrained by one of the typical pain points in Swing: the JTree model is completely different to the JList model, even though they present the same data. Switching between them means rewriting the model. The NetBeans Nodes API provides a generic model for presenting your data. The NetBeans Explorer & Property Sheet API provides several advanced Swing components for displaying nodes.

In addition to a window system, the NetBeans Platform provides many other UI-related components, such as a property sheet, a palette, complex Swing components for presenting data, a Plugin Manager, and an Output window.

Miscellaneous Features, Documentation, and Tooling Support

The NetBeans IDE, which is the software development kit (SDK) of the NetBeans Platform, provides many templates and tools, such as the award winning Matisse GUI Builder that enables you to very easily design your application's layout.

The NetBeans Platform exposes a rich set of APIs, which are tried, tested, and continually being improved.

The community is helpful and diverse, while a vast library of blogs, books, tutorials, and training materials are continually being developed and updated in multiple languages by many different people around the world.

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