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Manufacturing Business Intelligence on the NetBeans Platform

I specialize in business intelligence and data analysis reporting for manufacturing industries. I've been involved in manufacturing for a long time and I've learned how technology can make a company much more productive, by utilizing database applications to create work orders, scheduling reports, inventory control, etc. So, I started to build small custom database applications. But I guess like most people that get involved in technology, it quickly became a passion. In 1995 I set out to develop an ERP type manufacturing system for smaller companies, using a desktop database application that was similar to MS Access.

I am now in the process of re-platforming some of the modules that were in my manufacturing system, using the NetBeans Platform. Below you see the main window, with the sliding form for editing records highlighted.

This first version primarily focuses on business intelligence reports for work orders, work in process scheduling, inventory control and lot tracking. I am using the open source iReport Designer to create my reports and the iReport Viewer in my application.

Web Applications vs. the Desktop

Web applications are more versatile than desktop applications in many ways, but when an application has a determined set of users that need to perform more complex specific tasks, a rich client desktop application allows for more flexibility to create applications that are robust and user friendly.

This application allows a user to perform data entry and the business reports are updated seamlessly as changes are made to a database record or when report parameters are changed. The user can work in multiple modules at the same time and the application can also be used as a stand alone, where no internet connection is needed, which I believe can have great advantages to users of a rich client application.

Below you see the work order scheduler highlighted:

From NetBeans IDE to NetBeans Platform

I experimented with a few Java IDE's in the past. I then tried the NetBeans IDE and I first found that I really liked the GUI Builder. Then I saw what the Netbeans Platform had to offer and I could see how much time this would save me, in developing the application I had in mind.

Over the years I have been using NetBeans, I have also seen the NetBeans team consistently release new versions with lots of major advancements to the NetBeans Platform. So I believe the NetBeans Platform has a great future ahead.

In the next screenshot, you see an Inventory report produced by the application:

Benefits of the NetBeans Platform

I've benefited from all of the work that was done for me, that I can use for free. The NetBeans Platform framework to quickly get started developing a professional, scalable application is just awesome. The support forums are also really helpful, to get answers to questions and hear advice from the NetBeans Platform engineers.

I did not have a whole lot of experience writing Java code or in OO design when I started using NetBeans, but over the years of working with the NetBeans Platform, I was able to start developing applications using the many free tutorials. I learned a lot by working with the open source Java code. So what I have developed so far in my application is based on examples from highly experienced Java developers.

Here you can see that reports can be opened for viewing in the application:

Tips for anyone new to the Netbeans Platform

My tip would be to just dive right in and start using the many free tutorials to get familiar with how it works. If you are maybe like me, I started using the NetBeans Platform after using a desktop database application development tool, but I knew I had to move to something more scalable. I found Java and the NetBeans Platform to be an easy and logical transition.

In the next screenshot, you see the workorder selector highlighted:

 

The Future

I hope to build on to the current version of what I have developed with the NetBeans Platform and include more advanced manufacturing modules.

Over the past 15 years I had spent much time developing an ERP type manufacturing system, but it was not developed using industry standard, scalable technology. I have included all of my database tables from my ERP application in my NetBeans Platform application. Now I just have to build the user interfaces, using my previous system as a prototype. I hope to find other developers to become involved with this and I can take on more of an analyst / project manager role.

More details and a quick start training can be found here: http://www.mfg-bi.com

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