What's New in NetBeans Platform 6.5?

An overview of changes relating to NetBeans Platform 6.5, which is the Swing framework that underpins applications such as NetBeans IDE.

New & Changed Features

  • More Control over Window System. If your application makes use of the NetBeans Window System, you can limit the features made available to your users. Previously, you had no control over this: the windows were draggable, minimizable, resizable, closeable. Now, there are properties that specify whether these features are available, which are set for all the windows in the window system at the same time.

  • Possibility of Dragging into Palette. The palettes that you create for editors can now be populated by snippets dragged from the editor. The HTML Editor in NetBeans IDE 6.5 already supports this: the user can drag snippets from the editor into the palette. You can enable the same feature for your own editors too.

  • Replacement for TreeTableView. The TreeTableView has long been considered overly complex and buggy. In 6.5, you can use the OutlineView instead. It supports drag and drop, in-place editing of tree cells, and enhanced sorting. The data model is compatible with that of TreeTableViews.

  • More Control over Options Window. Since there are now so many options available in the Options window, being able to programmatically open a specific tab within the Options window can be handy. This is now possible via changes made to the Options API.

  • More Control over Minimized Window. When a window is minimized, and the user then slides it out, it is now possible to specify the size of the slided out window.

  • Simplified Test Infrastructure Replaces XTest. The XTest infrastructure, which was considered too complex, has been replaced by a simpler approach to testing, as explained here and here.

    New APIs & SPIs

    Read all of the changes here, with new classes as follows:

  • Code Generator SPI. You can now plug new code generation functionality into the popup that appears when Alt-Enter is clicked in an editor. This feature is registered by MIME type in the layer, so that code generators can now be created for any type of editor. Read the Javadoc.

  • Quick Search API. A new feature in NetBeans IDE 6.5 is a drop-down list that displays actions, options, and help texts that match a specified string. Selected actions are then invoked, selected options are shown in the Options window, and help texts are shown in the JavaHelp window. There is also an API that you can use to plug your own items into this quick search feature. Read the Javadoc.

  • OutlineView API. New class that replaces the TreeTableView. Read the Javadoc.

  • Database Explorer API. Provides access to database connections and drivers defined in the NetBeans Database Explorer, in the Services window. Read the Javadoc.

  • Print API. Provides Print functionality for your window components. Read the Javadoc.


    The following are deprecated/obsolete from 6.5 onwards:

    • In org.openide.loaders.DataObject:
      • DataObject.getCookie is now DataObject.getLookup().lookup(Object.class)
    • In org.openide.nodes:
      • Node.getCookie is now Node.getLookup().lookup(Object.class)
    • In org.openide.text.Line:
      • Line.show
    • In org.openide.util:
      • Utilities.icon2Image is now ImageUtilities.icon2Image
      • Utilities.loadImage is now ImageUtilities.loadImage
      • Utilities.mergeImages is now ImageUtilities.mergeImages

    New & Changed Tools in NetBeans IDE 6.5

  • Project Properties Dialog. New tab in NetBeans Platform project type's Project Properties dialog. The new tab is called 'Window System' and lets you specify whether the windows in the window system are draggable, closeable, etc.

  • New Module Project Wizard. There is a new checkbox which you need to select if you want the wizard to create a layer file for your module.

  • New File Dialog Wizards. Two new wizards in the New File dialog, for generating a starting point for using two of the new API/SPIs listed: Code Generator and Quick Search.

  • Improved File Dialog Wizards. Some artifacts are no longer created. Instead, new entries are added to the layer for artifacts that used to be created but were typically never changed:
    • New Window Component wizard: now no action is created by this wizard. Instead, it is wrapped in the layer file, where new entries are added for this purpose. In addition, there is a new checkbox 'Keep preferred size when slided in', which lets you specify whether your window should support the new feature that gives you control over the slided-out window.
    • New File Type wizard: no data loader and no node are created. Instead, these are wrapped in the layer, where they are declared.
    • New Action wizard: if you select an 'Always Enabled' action, the wizard will create a standard JDK ActionListener class, instead of a CallableSystemAction. New entries are registered in the layer, which maps your ActionListener to its NetBeans API requirements.
    • New Options Window wizard: now you can specify whether your new tab will be a miscellaneous tab within one of your own Options window tabs.

    New Video Series

    A new series of screencasts is introduced in 6.5, to get you started with gaining a conceptual understanding of the NetBeans Platform. Guided by the screencasts, you will understand the NetBeans Platform's problem domain and you will see the main APIs in action via a series of demonstrations using NetBeans IDE. The current parts of the series are as follows:

    Note: The topics in this series are also covered in the NetBeans Platform Certified Training.

    More coming soon...

    New Tutorials

    All tutorials at http://www.netbeans.org/kb/trails/platform.html are updated. In some cases, there are big changes in the texts, because of the above changes in the APIs and in the tools. The following are published for the first time in the 6.5 release cycle:

    New Teaching Materials

    The NetBeans Platform Certified Training has been delivered to a number of companies and institutions during the 6.5 release cycle and a new page has been created, for ALL the slides ever made by anyone in relation to the NetBeans Platform:

    The page is useful to teachers of the NetBeans Platform, i.e., either to people who are giving one-off presentations or to those who are giving full-blown courses covering several days to newbies or advanced users of the NetBeans Platform. If you have slides that should be added to the list, please join & write to nbedu@netbeans.org saying so.

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    Platform was started in November 2009, is owned by Antonin Nebuzelsky, and has 146 members.
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