NetBeans Project Sample Module Tutorial

This tutorial demonstrates how to create a module that adds a sample to the New Project wizard.

Note: This is not the latest version of this document. It applies to NetBeans IDE 6.0/6.1 only. Click here to see the most up to date version.

Contents

Content on this page applies to NetBeans IDE 6.1
  • Tweaking the Module
  • To follow this tutorial, you need the software and resources listed in the following table.

    Software or Resource Version Required
    NetBeans IDE version version 6.1 or
    version 6.0
    Java Developer Kit (JDK) version 6 or
    version 5

    Introduction to Project Samples

    Using two wizards in the IDE—the New Module Project wizard and the New Project Template wizard—you can very easily create a module that contains your technology's project samples. No coding of any kind is needed in order to do this. The wizards do all the work for you. In fact, if you find yourself doing any coding at all, you are possibly doing something wrong. Coding should only be necessary in a small set of corner cases.

    When you complete this tutorial, you will have a module that contains your samples. The intended users of your samples can then simply use the Plugin Manager to install the module. As a result, the samples will appear in the New Project wizard.

    At the end of this tutorial, the New Project wizard will contain a new sample, called "My Sample Application":

    New Project wizard.

    In addition to showing how to create a module containing a sample, you will be instructed on some ancillary topics, such as how to change the icon and description in the New Project wizard, and how to regenerate the sample after modifying its sources.

    Creating the Module Project

    We begin by working through the New Module Project wizard. At the end of it, we will have a basic source structure, with some default files, that every NetBeans module requires.

    1. Choose File > New Project (Ctrl-Shift-N). Under Categories, select NetBeans Modules. Under projects, select Module Project and click Next.
    2. In the Name and Location panel, type AdditionalSamples in Project Name. Change the Project Location to any directory on your computer. Leave the Standalone Module radiobutton and the Set as Main Project checkbox selected The panel should now look as follows:

      Step 1 of wizard.

      Click Next.

    3. In the Basic Module Configuration panel, replace yourorghere in Code Name Base with myorg, so that the whole code name base is org.myorg.additionalsamples. The code name base is the unique name of your module. Add a space to the default Module Display Name, so that it is changed to Additional Samples. Leave the location of the localizing bundle and XML layer, so that they will be stored in a package with the name org/myorg/additionalsamples. The panel should now look as follows:

      Step 2 of wizard.

    4. Click Finish.

    The IDE creates the Additional Samples project. The project contains all of your sources and project metadata, such as the project's Ant build script. The project opens in the IDE. You can view its logical structure in the Projects window (Ctrl-1) and its file structure in the Files window (Ctrl-2). For example, the Projects window should now look as follows:

    Initial Projects window.


    Bundling the Sample Application

    Now that we have a module project, which gives us our source structure, we simply run through another wizard that will bundle our sample. You simply need to select it in the wizard and then the wizard will generate all the required classes and registration details for you.

    1. Right-click the project node and choose New > Other. Under Categories, select NetBeans Module Development. Under Projects, select Project Template. Click Next.
    2. In the Select Project panel, select the project that you want to bundle as a sample, as shown below.

      Select Project panel.

      Note: Only projects that are open in the IDE are shown in the Project drop-down above. To bundle an external project as a sample, use the Browse button to locate it in your filesystem.

      Click Next.

    3. In the Name and Location panel, type MySampleApplication as the template name, type My Sample Application as the display name, and select Samples|General in the Category drop-down, as shown below:

      Name and location panel.

    4. Click Finish.

    The IDE creates the following:

    • MySampleApplicationProject.zip. A ZIP file containing your sample.
    • MySampleApplicationDescription.html. An HTML file for the description displayed in the New Project wizard's description field.
    • MySampleApplicationPanelVisual.
      MySampleApplicationWizardIterator.java.
      MySampleApplicationWizardPanel.java. A JPanel, with a supporting wizard class, and an iterator used in the New Project wizard to create the sample. You do not need to understand how these work, unless you want to. Later in this tutorial, these classes are discussed, although they are not necessary to understand in most scenarios involving the creation of project samples.

    In addition, the IDE registers the sample in the XML layer file and adds localization strings to the Bundle.properties file.

    The Projects window should now look as follows:

    Initial Projects window.

    Building and Installing the Module

    The IDE uses an Ant build script to build and install your module. The build script is created for you when you create the module project.

    Installing the NetBeans Module

    In the Projects window, right-click the Additional Samples project and choose Install/Reload in Target Platform.

    The module is built and installed in the target IDE or Platform. The target IDE or Platform opens so that you can try out your new module. The default target IDE or Platform is the installation used by the current instance of the development IDE.

    Note: When you run your module, you will be using a temporary test user directory, not the development IDE's user directory.

    Using the NetBeans Module

    In this section, we take on the role of the user of our sample. After a user installs our module, they typically take the steps outlined below.

    1. Choose File > New Project (Ctrl-Shift-N).

      The New Project wizard opens and displays the new project sample:

      New Project wizard.

    2. Select the new project sample and click Next. The wizard panel appears:

      New File wizard.

    3. Type a name in the project name field. Click Finish.

      The Projects window opens and displays the newly created project sample.

    Creating a Shareable Module Binary

    To make our sample available to our users, we need to create an NBM file, which is a binary NetBeans module file, containing our sample, together with supporting files such as the layer.xml file.

    1. In the Projects window, right-click the Additional Samples project and choose Create NBM.

      The NBM file is created and you can view it in the Files window (Ctrl-2):

      Shareable NBM.

    2. Make it available to others via, for example, e-mail. Or create your own NetBeans Update Center and publish it there. Or publish it in the NetBeans Plugin Portal.

    Tweaking the Sample

    In this section, we perform some typical tasks that you might want to perform after completing the New Project Template wizard, in order to finetune your sample. For example, you might want to change the sample's icon, description, and similar items.

    Changing the Icon

    First, we change the default icon, after looking at how the icon is defined for other samples.

    1. When you expand the Important Files node, and then the XML Layer node, a node is found, representing the sample's registration in the layer.xml file. By right-clicking the node, you can choose Pick Icon, which lets you choose an icon to replace that which is provided by default:

      Picking an image

    2. Choose a new icon. When you do so, the layer.xml file reflects your new choice:
      <folder name="Templates">
          <folder name="Project">
              <folder name="Samples">
                  <folder name="Standard">
                      <file name="MySampleApplicationProject.zip" 
                                      url="MySampleApplicationProject.zip">
                          <attr name="SystemFileSystem.icon" 
                                      urlvalue="nbresloc:/org/myorg/additionalsamples/new_icon.png"/>
                          <attr name="SystemFileSystem.localizingBundle" 
                                      stringvalue="org.myorg.additionalsamples.Bundle"/>
                          <attr name="instantiatingIterator" 
                                      methodvalue="org.myorg.additionalsamples.
                                      MySampleApplicationWizardIterator.createIterator"/>
                          <attr name="instantiatingWizardURL" 
                                      urlvalue="nbresloc:/org/myorg/additionalsamples/
                                      MySampleApplicationDescription.html"/>
                          <attr name="template" boolvalue="true"/>
                      </file>
                  </folder>
              </folder>
          </folder>
      </folder>

      You can also manually change the icon, by adding it to your module, and changing its name in the layer.xml file shown above.

    3. In the <this layer in context> node, visible in the screenshot above, you can see the other samples available to your platform. When you do so, you can choose Open Layer File(s), which opens a node's layer.xml file which, in this case, is useful in ascertaining how other samples' icons are defined:

      New File wizard.

      In the case of the above, in other words, for Java SE samples, the icon is defined as follows:

      <attr name="SystemFileSystem.icon" 
          urlvalue="nbresloc:/org/netbeans/modules/java/examples/resources/j2seProject.gif"/>

      If you add the line above to your layer.xml file, your sample will have the same icon as the other samples in the New Project wizard's Samples|General category.

    Changing the Category

    When we used the New Project Template wizard, we assigned the sample to a category. Afterwards, we can put it in a different category, either via the user interface shown in the previous screenshot or manually in the layer.xml file.

    Changing the Description

    Next, we change the sample's description, which is shown in the New Project wizard. As with the icon, a default description is provided when you create a module containing a sample. However, you can easily change that description.

    1. Open the file shown below and notice the default text shown in the editor:

      changing the description

    2. Change the text, reinstall the module, and notice the changed description in the New Project wizard.

    Changing the Iterator

    The New Project Template wizard creates a very basic wizard that the user will work through when getting the sample from the New Project wizard. The wizard is basic in the sense that it consists of one panel and that the panel contains the absolute bare minimum in terms of Swing components. In this section, we look at an easy yet powerful way of changing the single panel, without touching the panel itself.

    1. Open the layer.xml file and notice the highlighted line below:
      <folder name="Templates">
          <folder name="Project">
              <folder name="Samples">
                  <folder name="Standard">
                      <file name="MySampleApplicationProject.zip" 
                                  url="MySampleApplicationProject.zip">
                          <attr name="SystemFileSystem.icon" 
                                  urlvalue="nbresloc:/org/myorg/additionalsamples/new_icon.png"/>
                          <attr name="SystemFileSystem.localizingBundle" 
                                  stringvalue="org.myorg.additionalsamples.Bundle"/>
                          <attr name="instantiatingIterator" 
                                  methodvalue="org.myorg.additionalsamples.
                                  MySampleApplicationWizardIterator.createIterator"/>
                          <attr name="instantiatingWizardURL" 
                                  urlvalue="nbresloc:/org/myorg/additionalsamples/
                                  MySampleApplicationDescription.html"/>
                          <attr name="template" boolvalue="true"/>
                      </file>
                  </folder>
              </folder>
          </folder>
      </folder>

      That line defines an iterator, which is a class that implements WizardDescriptor./*Progress*/InstantiatingIterator. The iterator specifies the classes that define the panels in the wizard, defines the text of the steps shown in the wizard, unzips the ZIP file, and applies the user-specified settings in the wizard to the unzipped objects in the ZIP file.

      The iterator that is found in our layer.xml file by default makes use of a JPanel and wizard class that are also created by the New Project template wizard.

      In the next step, we change the iterator referenced in the layer.xml file to the iterator used by other samples. When we do so, we will make use of a different iterator, which will result in the panel in the wizard showing different content.

    2. As shown in step 3 of the section called Changing the Icon, use the "Open Layer File(s)" menu item to open the layer file of one of the other Samples|General category. Replace the iterator defined in your layer.xml file with the iterator defined there.

      You should find that the iterator is defined as follows:

      <attr name="instantiatingIterator" 
          newvalue="org.netbeans.modules.java.examples.J2SESampleProjectIterator"/>
    3. Having made the change outlined above, reinstall the module and notice that the sample's wizard panel now looks as follows:

      set as main project

      Compare this panel to the screenshot in step 2 of Using the NetBeans Module and notice that we now have a new "Set as Main Project" checkbox, which we did not have when we were using our default iterator. The reason for this is that our default iterator made use of a panel that does not have that checkbox.

    Adding a Panel

    In the previous section, we changed the iterator, which resulted in a different panel being shown. Possibly, however, there is no existing iterator to cater to your specific needs. In this section, we learn how to add a new panel to the wizard. We do this by reusing the iterator that the New Project Template wizard creates for us.

    1. Use the Wizard wizard to create a new wizard panel which, just like the panel created by the New Project Template wizard, consists of a JPanel and a wizard class.
    2. Instantiate the new wizard panel in the iterator's createPanels() method, as shown here:
      private WizardDescriptor.Panel[] createPanels() {
          return new WizardDescriptor.Panel[] {
              //This is the wizard panel, created by the
              //New Project Template wizard:
              new MySampleApplicationWizardPanel()
              //This is the new wizard panel, created by the
              //New Wizard wizard:
              //new MySampleApplicationWizardPanel1()
          };
      }

      You only need to add your new wizard panel to the method above, and then it will be instantiated when the sample's wizard is invoked by the user in the New Project wizard.

    3. Finally, you need to add a new string to the iterator's createSteps() method, so that your new wizard panel is accompanied by a string in the left sidebar of the wizard:
      private String[] createSteps() {
          return new String[] {
              NbBundle.getMessage(MySampleApplicationWizardIterator.class, "LBL_CreateProjectStep"),
              NbBundle.getMessage(MySampleApplicationWizardIterator.class, "LBL_CreateProjectStep1")
          };
      }

      You only need to add the line in bold above, and then define the key/value pair in the Bundle.properties file.

    Updating the Sources

    When you change the sample's sources, how do you update the module that bundles the sample? Do you need to recreate the module project, work through the New Project Template wizard again, and then recreate the NBM file? No. The only part of the sample module project that is impacted by changes in the original sample's sources is the ZIP file. The ZIP file contains the sources, and those are the only pieces that are affected when you make changes to the original project. Hence, you simply need to recreate the ZIP file. To simplify this, if you add the following Ant target to the build.xml file of the project where you created the sources, you can regenerate the ZIP file from inside the IDE and automatically have it copied to the sample module's source structure right away.

    <target name="zipme" description="Zip the application to the sample project">
        <property name="build.classes.dir" location="/home/NetBeansProjects/AdditionalSamples"/>
        <property name="examples" location="${build.classes.dir}/src/org/myorg/additionalsamples/"/>
        <zip basedir="../MySampleApplication" destfile="${examples}/MySampleApplicationProject.zip">
            <exclude name="**/build/"/>
            <exclude name="**/dist/"/>
            <exclude name="**/nbproject/private/"/>
        </zip>
    </target>

    In the above Ant target, the build.classes.dir property points to the location of your sample module project, which is probably different in your scenario than is indicated above.

    Note: We exclude some folders from the ZIP file, because these are not needed in the sample module project and, in fact, would cause problems if they were not excluded.



    Next Steps

    For more information about creating and developing NetBeans modules, see the following resources:


    Versioning

    Version
    Date
    Changes
    1 9 July 2005 Initial version
    2 10 July 2005
    • Added the org.netbeans.modules.java.examples.J2SESampleProjectIterator wizard as an alternative -- less strict than the web wizard.
    • Expanded the Ant script that zips the project sample, so that it now excludes build, dist, and nbproject/private folders.
    3 23 August 2005
    • Completely rewrote the tutorial, because of the Project Template wizard.
    • Questions:
      • What's the Category drop-down for? Select the category in the New Project wizard where the sample will be registered, but not implemented yet.
      • Layer file indicates that no Bundle file exists, but it does.
    • To do:
      • Add details on each of the created files (currently there's only a sentence, this should be expanded).
      • Explain relationship between generated files and resulting project template wizard.
      • Add some post-processing customization steps (e.g., how to put the sample in a different category in the New Project wizard).
      • Add introductory sentences to each section.
      • Info about XML layer file to be added.
    4 1 October 2005
    • Worked through the tutorial with today's build and tweaked here and there.
    • To do:
      • Add details on each of the created files (currently there's only a sentence, this should be expanded).
      • Explain relationship between generated files and resulting project template wizard.
      • Add some post-processing customization steps (e.g., how to put the sample in a different category in the New Project wizard).
      • Add introductory sentences to each section.
      • Info about XML layer file to be added.
    5 8 June 2007 Began updating to 6.0. Everything works, just changed screenshots (which were still from 5.0 in some cases, where icons were different), removed references to 5.x, replaced with 6.0, neatened things up here and there.

    To do:

    • How to change the icon
    • How to change the description
    • How to change the category
    • How to change the name
    • How to regenerate the sample ZIP
    • How and why to use the panel
    • How to bundle external JARs and javadoc
    • Multiple samples in same module
    • Intro sentences in sections
    • Better intro, with New Project wizard screeshot, in the tutorial's introduction
    6 April 2008 Began and completed updating updating to 6.1, only new styles needed. In the meantime, most of the above items have been added.

    To do:

    • Multiple samples in same module
    • Discuss existing sample modules in the NetBeans sources and how things have been done, and why.

    Project Features

    Project Links

    About this Project

    Platform was started in November 2009, is owned by Antonin Nebuzelsky, and has 149 members.
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