Netbeans as a platform

One of the cooler aspects of NetBeans is that it can be used as a platform for building applications, not just as an IDE. By this I mean that if you look under the hood at the implementation of NetBeans, you'll find that, just like any other Java application, it is a large collection of classes. These classes can be used outside of NetBeans to provide a framework for general desktop applications. For more information, look here.

The platform APIs include extensive facilities built on top of Swing to do window, action, toolbar and menu management. There is also an abstract file system that allows things like CVS repositories and FTP sites to be viewed as file systems. There's a whole framework for wizards, and a facility for managing and storing settings. My personal favorite is the AutoUpdate module that allows applications (at the direction of users through plugin manager UI) to be extended by installing plugins, and to handle automatic updating when new versions appear.

Taken together these dramatically simplify the construction of sophisticated desktop applications. Take them out for a spin!

April 23, 2004