NetBeans Plugin Quick Start

Welcome to NetBeans plugin development!

This tutorial provides a simple and quick introduction to the NetBeans plugin development workflow by walking you through the creation of a new toolbar for any NetBeans Platform application. Once you are done with this tutorial, you will have a general understanding of how to create, build, and install plugins for the NetBeans Platform.

After you finish this tutorial, you can move on to the NetBeans Platform learning trail. The learning trail provides comprehensive tutorials that highlight a wide range of NetBeans APIs for a variety of application types. If you do not want to do a "Hello World" application, you can skip this tutorial and jump straight to the learning trail.

Note: This is not the latest version of this document. Click here to see the most up to date version.

Contents

Content on this page applies to NetBeans IDE 7.0

To follow this tutorial, you need the software and resources listed in the following table.

Software or Resource Version Required
NetBeans IDE version 7.0 or above
Java Developer Kit (JDK) Version 6 or above

The toolbar you create in this tutorial will look as follows:

Google toolbar displaying sample search string

When the user presses Enter in the toolbar above, the IDE's default browser will open and the text in the toolbar will be sent to a Google search, with the results available in the open browser. To create this toolbar, you will use the NetBeans APIs to enhance the IDE's feature set. Specifically, you will create an action that is invoked by a button in the toolbar. You will then create a Swing JPanel containing a JLabel and JTextField as GUI components. Finally, you will implement Presenter.Toolbar to return the JPanel so that it displays in the toolbar, instead of the button.

Do some background reading before diving into this tutorial. In particular, read the Modules API Reference document, which explains what modules are and provides some context for this tutorial, while noting that there is an extensive Reference Material section on the NetBeans Platform Learning Trail.


Setting up the Module Project

When developing the module, you have to make sure the structure of your project is set up correctly. NetBeans IDE provides a Module Project wizard that sets up all of the basic files required for a module.

  1. Choose File > New Project (Ctrl+Shift+N). Under Categories, select NetBeans Modules. Under Projects, select Module. Click Next.
  2. In the Name and Location panel, type GoogleToolbar in the Project Name field. Change the Project Location to any directory on your computer. Leave the Standalone Module option and Set as Main Project checkbox selected. Click Next.
  3. In the Basic Module Configuration panel, type org.myorg.googletoolbar in Code Name Base.
  4. Do not select any of the checkboxes and then click Finish.

The IDE creates the GoogleToolbar 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).

If you expand the Important Files node, you can open the Module Manifest, which has this content:

Manifest-Version: 1.0
OpenIDE-Module: org.myorg.googletoolbar
OpenIDE-Module-Localizing-Bundle: org/myorg/googletoolbar/Bundle.properties
OpenIDE-Module-Specification-Version: 1.0

For details on these NetBeans-specific manifest keys, read the NetBeans Modules API Javadoc description.

Coding the Module

In order to code the module, you need to complete the following steps:

Creating the Action

In this section, you use a wizard in NetBeans IDE to create a new Action. Actions are discussed here in the NetBeans Platform Wiki. As you will see, the wizard will create a Java class with annotations. Therefore, even though the wizard is useful, you could simply decide to create a plain Java class instead and then annotate it as described below.

  1. Right-click the project node and choose New > Action (if Action is not displayed, access it by choosing Other, then in the New File wizard under Categories, select Module Development). Click Next.
  2. In the Action Type panel keep the default setting, which will let the IDE create an action that subclasses ActionListener, as shown below:

    Step 1 of New Action wizard

    Click Next.
  3. In the GUI Registration panel, select File from the Category drop-down list. The Category drop-down list controls where an action is shown in the Keyboard Shortcuts editor in the IDE. Next, deselect Global Menu Item and select Global Toolbar Button. In the Toolbar drop-down list, select File, then in the Position drop-down list, select the toolbar button's position within the toolbar, such as the one shown below:

    Step 1 of New Action wizard

    Click Next.
  4. In the Name and Location panel, type GoogleAction as the Class Name and Google Action as the Display Name. Browse to an icon that has a dimension of 16x16 pixels. (If you have an icon in the same folder with the same name, of size 24x24 pixels, appended with "24", e.g., "google.png/google24.png", it will automatically be included and it will be used for the large icon displayed in the toolbar.)

    If needed, here are two icons you can use: 16x16 24x24. However, note that in the end, you will not use the icon at all once you have created the toolbar—instead, you will display the JPanel that you create in the next section. The final panel of the New Action wizard should now look like this:

    Step 1 of New Action wizard

    Click Finish.

    Note: GoogleAction.java is added to the org.myorg.googletoolbar package in the Projects window. The new class has this content:

    package org.myorg.googletoolbar;
    
    import java.awt.event.ActionEvent;
    import java.awt.event.ActionListener;
    import org.openide.awt.ActionRegistration;
    import org.openide.awt.ActionReference;
    import org.openide.awt.ActionReferences;
    import org.openide.awt.ActionID;
    import org.openide.util.NbBundle.Messages;
    
    @ActionID(category = "File",
    id = "org.myorg.googletoolbar.GoogleAction")
    @ActionRegistration(iconBase = "org/myorg/googletoolbar/google.png",
    displayName = "#CTL_GoogleAction")
    @ActionReferences({
        @ActionReference(path = "Toolbars/File", position = 0)
    })
    @Messages("CTL_GoogleAction=Google Action")
    public final class GoogleAction implements ActionListener {
    
        public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) {
            // TODO implement action body
        }
    
    }
                

    Next, when you build the module, the class annotations that you see above will be converted to XML tags in a file that will be contributed to the virtual filesystem of the application. The XML file will be named "generated-layer.xml" and will be found in the "build\classes\META-INF" folder of your module, which you can see if the Files window (Ctrl-2) is open in the IDE. This file is created at compile-time and contains XML entries generated from the NetBeans annotations that you have defined in your Java classes. Together with the "layer.xml" file that your module can optionally provide, the "generated-layer.xml" file defines the contributions that the module makes to the virtual filesystem. Read about the virtual filesystem here, in the NetBeans Platform Wiki.

  5. In the Projects window, right-click the GoogleToolbar project node and choose Run. The module is built and installed in a new instance of the IDE (i.e., the target platform). By default, the default target platform is the version of the IDE you are currently working in. The target platform opens so that you can try out the new module. You should be able to see your button and click it:

    Google toolbar displaying sample search string

Creating the JPanel

In this section, you create a JPanel that will be the toolbar that will be displayed in the application's main toolbar.

  1. Right-click the project node and choose New > Other. Under Categories, select Swing GUI Forms. Under Projects, select JPanel Form. Click Next.
  2. In the Name and Location panel, type GooglePanel as the Class Name and select the package from the drop-down list. Click Finish. GooglePanel.java is added to the package and is opened in the Design view in the Source Editor.
  3. Place the cursor at the bottom right-hand corner of the JPanel, then select the JPanel and drag the cursor to resize it, so that its width and length resemble that of a toolbar, as shown below:

    resized JPanel
  4. Drag a JTextField item and a JLabel item from the Palette (Ctrl+Shift+8) directly into the JPanel, then resize the JPanel and the other two items so that they fit snugly together. Finally, click the JLabel and change its text to Google:, then delete the default text in the JTextField. (If you click F2 over the JLabel and the JTextField, their display text will become editable.) Your JPanel should now resemble the image shown below:

    JTextField and JLabel included in JPanel
  5. Right-click on the JTextField and choose Events > Action > actionPerformed. This generates a jTextField1ActionPerformed() method in the GooglePanel.java source code, which displays in the Source Editor. Fill out the jTextFieljTextField1ActionPerformedd1KeyTyped() method as follows (inserted text shown in bold):
    private void jTextField1ActionPerformed(java.awt.event.ActionEvent evt) {
        
        try {
            String searchText = URLEncoder.encode(jTextField1.getText(), "UTF-8");
            URLDisplayer.getDefault().showURL
               (new URL("http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q="+searchText+"&btnG=Google+Search"));
        } catch (Exception eee){
            return;//nothing much to do
        }
        
    }

    If you need to, right-click in the Source Editor and choose Format (Alt+Shift+F).

  6. Right-click in the Source Editor and choose Fix Imports (Alt+Shift+F). The Fix All Imports dialog displays, listing suggested paths for unrecognized classes:

    Fix All Imports dialog containing suggested paths for unrecognized classes

    Click OK. The IDE creates the following import statements for GooglePanel.java:
    import java.net.URL;
    import java.net.URLEncoder;
    import org.openide.awt.HtmlBrowser.URLDisplayer;
    Also notice that all errors disappear from the Source Editor.
  7. Because the JPanel you have created is the component that will render the toolbar, you need to implement Presenter.Toolbar to display it in the toolbar. Open GoogleAction.java. Change the signature so that Presenter.Toolbar is implemented. Also, you can delete the "iconBase" attribute (as well as the icon from the source tree) because you no longer need an icon in this scenario. The result of these changes is as follows:
    import java.awt.Component;
    import java.awt.event.ActionEvent;
    import javax.swing.AbstractAction;
    import org.openide.awt.ActionRegistration;
    import org.openide.awt.ActionReference;
    import org.openide.awt.ActionReferences;
    import org.openide.awt.ActionID;
    import org.openide.util.NbBundle.Messages;
    import org.openide.util.actions.Presenter;
    
    @ActionID(category = "File",
    id = "org.myorg.googletoolbar.GoogleAction")
    @ActionRegistration(displayName = "(irrelevant)")
    @ActionReferences({
        @ActionReference(path = "Toolbars/File", position = 0)
    })
    public final class GoogleAction extends AbstractAction implements Presenter.Toolbar {
    
        @Override
        public Component getToolbarPresenter() {
            return new GooglePanel();
        }
        
        public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) {
            // not needed, because the GooglePanel handles the action
        }
        
    }

    Note: When using Presenter.Toolbar, you need to extend AbstractAction, instead of implementing ActionListener, as can be seen above.

  8. Run the module again. This time, instead of a JButton, you should see your JPanel. Type a search string in the text field:

    Google toolbar displaying sample search string

    Press Enter. The IDE's default browser starts up, if you have set one in the Options window. The Google URL and your search string are sent to the browser and a search is performed. When the search results are returned, you can view them in the browser.

In this section, you have created a JPanel that will display a JTextField and a JLabel. When Enter is pressed in the JTextField, its content will be sent to a Google search. The HTML browser will open and you will see the result of the Google search. The action class is used to integrate the JPanel within the application's toolbar, as registered via the annotations in the action class.


Sharing the Module

Now that you have built a working module that enhances the IDE, why not share it with other developers? NetBeans IDE offers an easy way to create a binary NetBeans Module file (.nbm) which is a universal means of allowing others to experiment with it in their own versions of the IDE.

To create a module binary, do the following:

In the Projects window, right-click the GoogleToolbar project node and choose Create NBM. The new NBM file is created and you can view it in the Files window (Ctrl+2):

new NBM file displayed in the Files window

See Also

This concludes the NetBeans Plugin Quick Start. This document has described how to create a plugin that adds a Google Search toolbar to the IDE. For more information about creating and developing plugins, see the following resources:

Project Features

Project Links

About this Project

Platform was started in November 2009, is owned by Antonin Nebuzelsky, and has 138 members.
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