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The NetBeans IDE is pretty good on its own, but even handier once you start extending it with plugins specific to your needs. In this installment of Open source Java projects, Jeff Friesen introduces you to NetBeans plugins that let you view the NetBeans filesystem, explore pictures on Windows systems, check code for standards compliance, add properties to Java classes, and make OpenGL development easier. All that is just a start, though, as you'll also learn how to create your own NetBeans plugin for accessing the NetBeans API Javadoc. Level: Intermediate.
Earlier this year, I used NetBeans IDE 6.1 with JavaFX (part of the Sun Microsystems JavaFX Preview SDK) to develop the examples for my Jump into JavaFX series on JavaWorld. While playing with the IDE, I encountered the topic of plugins -- modules that install themselves into NetBeans to extend it with new features such as a Google search toolbar.
This article introduces you to five of the many open source NetBeans plugins that you can download from the NetBeans Plugin Portal. You'll discover each plugin's purpose, its open source license, and the platforms that the plugin targets. You'll also briefly tour each plugin in NetBeans IDE 6.5, which I assume you've installed. Lastly, you will see how to create your own plugin for accessing the NetBeans API Javadoc.
At the end of this article you will have learned about five useful plugins. Moreover, you'll be familiar with the NetBeans plugin architecture and with the steps for creating your own plugins.
The NetBeans system filesystem is the central repository for NetBeans configuration data. The File System Displayer plugin, created by NetBeans expert Geertjan Wielenga, lets you view the NetBeans system filesystem from within the IDE. This plugin is licensed under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) and targets the Solaris, Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows platforms.
NetBeans is based on modules -- software components for providing applications or the IDE with various features. These components are distributed as NetBeans Module (NBM) files, which are JAR files containing sets of classes that provide the features, as well as manifest information for identifying these archives to NetBeans as modules.
1226158890776_org-demo-fsdisplayer.nbm module file by clicking the Download button on the File System Displayer detail page. Then start NetBeans 6.5 (if the IDE isn't already running), and complete the following steps to install this plugin into
1226158890776_org-demo-fsdisplayer.nbmfile. Select this file and click Open. The File System Displayer plugin will show up in the list of plugins to be installed.
After installation, NetBeans presents the plugin's FsDisplayer Window explorer window component, which displays the hierarchy of configuration data that appears in Figure 1.