Plugging into NetBeans

Unofficial NetBeans plug-ins

One of Eclipse’s perceived strengths over NetBeans is the far greater number of modules available for Eclipse. But when NetBeans 5.0 was released, the megalithic IDE was given a fighting chance to compete, with radically easier plug-in module development.

It’s to be expected, then, that an ecosystem of third-party modules will start to become available for NetBeans. A good sign that this really is starting to happen, is the burgeoning website and NB update center, nbextras.org. From their About page:

“nbextras.org is an unofficial update center for NetBeans IDE. Unofficial in a sense that this server is not attached to nor endorsed by NetBeans.org.”

nbextras is intended for new, cutting-edge plug-in modules that possibly haven’t gone through the stringent testing that “official” NB modules must go through.

Recently added modules include a regex highlighter to allow quick evaluation of regular expressions; a module to generate statistical reports from a CVS repository (e.g. who is the most intensive committer); a small module to display info on the cryptographic services in your Java Virtual Machine; a bytecode browser to help you visualize what happens behind the scenes after your Java code is compiled into JVM-readable bytecode; and so on.

It's a rich and eclectic mix; and in a way that makes nbextras.org all the more appealing.

But, while welcome, there’s always a danger that this new-found surge of energy and enthusiasm in the plug-ins space could backfire for NetBeans -- check back here tomorrow and I'll explain why I think this is the case...

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.

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