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Big Questions in Big D

Posted by gsporar on March 16, 2007 at 6:30 PM PDT

On March 14th
at the Java Metroplex Users Group (MUG)
in Dallas I did a presentation entitled What Is NetBeans? Actually, there
was not much formal presentation, at least in terms of the standard
approach of slide after slide after slide. Instead, I mostly
did demos of the NetBeans IDE.

My goal was to illustrate three answers:

  1. NetBeans is a platform for building rich client applications.
  2. NetBeans is an integrated development environment (IDE).
  3. NetBeans is a community of
    users,
    contributors,
    and partners.

As you might expect, the focus was on the IDE part of the answer. But
I did include a brief demo that showed how easy it is to build an application
on top of the NetBeans Platform. The tools provided in the IDE for
doing that also make it possible to easily extend the IDE itself, something
that I have written about before.

All in all, it was great fun because of the large and enthusiastic audience.
There were a relatively large number of NetBeans users in the crowd. And
there were a suprising number of questions. I have a few examples below.

  • Which application servers are supported? The NetBeans IDE version
    5.5 has support out of the box for Tomcat,
    GlassFish,
    WebLogic, and
    JBoss. There
    are also plugins available on the beta Update Center for
    OC4J and
    WebSphere.
  • Do the UML tools include support for
    XMI?
    Unfortunately, no. The
    UML support in NetBeans IDE is still in beta and there is no support
    for the XMI standard in this release.
  • What are the best practices for using your own build.xml file? The
    NetBeans IDE's project system is based on Ant.
    So the IDE will write
    a build.xml for you or you can use your own. The thing to understand
    about using your own is that you will need to add Ant targets if you want
    to use features in the IDE that are not currently supported in your
    build.xml. For example, in order to debug your project you will need
    to use a wizard the IDE provides to create the appropriate target - by
    default it is stored in a separate file so that your build.xml is
    not modified. More information available here.
  • How do you do a Select All? This was kind of funny... when the lady
    asked me this question my brain locked in on the word "Select." I had
    done a demo of the IDE's built in relational database explorer so
    I thought the question was about how to write a SQL query. But that was
    not what the question was about. Fortunately one of the other attendees was
    standing there and understood the actual question which was about
    the IDE's editor. The answer is: press CNTRL-A on the keyboard to select
    all of the text in the editor's buffer.
  • Is there a wizard that will generate a Swing-based
    CRUD application?

    In the current release, no. But it is coming in NetBeans 6.0
    later this
    year
    . Check out this Flash
    demo
    from my co-worker Roumen. The functionality it shows
    is not quite available yet, but should be included in an upcoming milestone.

My thanks to Erik Weibust of the Java MUG and Lisa Danzer of Sun for setting this up. Special thanks
to Pete Carapetyan of the Java MUG for his excellent work running the meeting and to Brad
Beadles of Sun for being my host at Sun's Dallas office.

A few photos below. Click for full size.


pizzaT.jpg
The pizza table was popular.
chairsT.jpg The crowd gathers.
mugT.jpg Each Java MUG member got a free spill-proof insulated Java/NetBeans mug