Brazilian State Financial Auditing on the NetBeans Platform

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Brazilian State Financial Auditing on the NetBeans Platform

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Paulo Canedo is Brazilian, living in Palmas, capital of the Brazilian state of Tocantins, where he graduated in computer science some years ago. Until recently, he worked as a developer for Tribunal de Contas do Estado do Tocantins, a government agency responsible for the state's financial management system. 

That financial management system is based on the NetBeans Platform and below Paulo talks about its purpose and features, as well as about how it benefited from the NetBeans Platform.

Hi Paulo, please explain a bit about the financial management system used by Tribunal de Contas do Estado do Tocantins.

Well, the application is very specific to financial management in this state. The government agency controls public expenditure via the management of business units. For each business unit, there are specific government employees responsible for managing the related financial data.

The application we created on the NetBeans Plaftform analyzes financial data and performs various verification checks. Related to this, we also have a digital sign-on system that guarantees the data was sent by the certified person of the business unit, which enhances the security of the data transaction.

The user of the application needs to perform the following steps:

  1. Get XML data from a third-party application, which generates this data.
  2. Specify the business unit that is responsible for the data, the related XML directory for storing the data, and date-related information.
  3. Analyze the data which, for performance reasons, includes the XML data being sent to a Java DB database prior to analysis.
  4. Digital signature via e-CPF, which is similar to an electronic Social Security Number in the US.
  5. Transfer the processed XML files via Internet.

Here's the splash screen:

Why are you using the NetBeans Platform as the basis of this application?

The first application version was built in plain Swing.

However, as time passed, we realized we were wasting a lot of time focusing on low-level details that weren't important to our end users.

Also, we had complicated demands relating to the distribution of software updates.

What I've found most useful with the NetBeans Platform is its modularity (i.e., being able to program & distribute modules) and the simplified approach to development thanks to its useful Swing components, such as a predefined & customizable window system.

And, from the user point of view, when they compare it with the previous version, i.e., the one that was not on the NetBeans Platform, their conclusion is: "This one works very well and it's very simple to use!"

How did you get started with the NetBeans Platform?

At various points in time I had read things about the NetBeans Platform in various blogs, as well as on the NetBeans Platform homepage. So, I thought: "Why not we use the NetBeans Platform?"

With the NetBeans Platform, we don't need to worry about the basic needs common to all desktop applications, such as a window system. Here's the main window of the application:

Also, our update & distribution problem is solved very easily via the NetBeans Platform.

That was in May 2008, that we made the move to the NetBeans Platform.

What are the main NetBeans APIs that you're using? Which are your favorite APIs?

The main NetBeans APIs that we use are the Wizard classes of the NetBeans Dialogs API.  Via these classes, we created a friendly interface for the user:

In general, our favorite NetBeans APIs are the classes that relate to the window system, the auto update feature, and the wizard component.

When would it make sense for a development team to consider using the NetBeans Platform?

If you need to create an extensible application, without wanting to waste time on the standard needs common to any Swing application (such as a window system and update management), I think the NetBeans Platform would definitely be of interest to you.

Is the application in production?

Yes, the application is in production. It can be downloaded from the government agency's site, though it is very specific (and requires digital signatures):

Can you give some tips for getting started with the NetBeans Platform?

Visit the  "Getting Started" section and the "NetBeans Platform Fundamentals" section on the NetBeans Platform Learning Trail. Write some basic samples yourself, using the tutorials as starting points. Visit planetnetbeans.org and have a look at NetBeans Platform blogs, such as Geertjan's blog. :-)

And, one book that I recommend is: "Rich Client Programming: Plugging into the NetBeans Platform".

What's the future of this application?

The future of this application is... to have more modules added to itself, each one implementing new features! Possibly the first will be a questionairre, which will be accessible via a digital signature. And for that, well, let's use the wizard component again! :-) Here are some more screenshots of wizards created for the application:

However, the date for realizing this task is not defined yet.

Thanks for the interview, Paulo!

Pleasure. :-) And I would like to say thanks for this opportunity to talk about our project!



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