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SevenBeans: Tight NetBeans Integration with Windows 7

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I'm Przemyslaw Sowa, a software developer from Poland turned entrepreneur. Strix Code is my company, which started off by offering developer targeted products for Windows 7 integration, named SevenBeans. However, we are working on interesting end user products too, mainly for the Polish market. We have two prototypes of a small business oriented software and a stock market software for individual investors.

Features

SevenBeans, a module for NetBeans IDE (or any other NetBeans Platform application), provides all Windows 7 taskbar extensions, excluding the thumbnail toolbar, for which I haven't found a good usage yet. First of all, SevenBeans allows you to pin NetBeans IDE to the taskbar. This is very handy if you use the taskbar a lot. Unfortunately, Java applications cannot be pinned to the taskbar so SevenBeans makes a difference here. When you click a taskbar button for NetBeans IDE, a jump list appears:

It contains your recent projects, so you can open them directly. There are also shortcuts for a new project and a new file.

Also, SevenBeans displays NetBeans task progress on the taskbar button, so that you can see at a glance when a build process is finished, etc.

When you are running, debugging, or building a project, a small overlay icon is shown on the taskbar button, so that you can see the NetBeans status at all times:

It also has the the ability to create tabbed thumbnails for open documents, exactly like what Internet Explorer does for open tabs:

The tabs are all updated in real time, so that you can close a document by closing its thumbnail, etc. However, this feature is disabled by default, since if you have many open documents, navigating through the thumbnails becomes a hassle:

Background

There were two reasons for creating SevenBeans. First of all, I had created J7Goodies, a Java library that provides all Windows 7 taskbar features in a developer friendly way. This is a very good product, I put a lot of effort into it so developers using J7Goodies can integrate Windows 7 functionality with their application in just a few lines of code.

Having the J7Goodies library, I was looking for a way to showcase its abilities and I wanted it to be a real world example. Because I'm using NetBeans, which is a great IDE and even greater rich-client platform, I came up with the idea that I could improve the NetBeans experience on Windows 7 and showcase my library at the same time. I believe that it was a good idea because as a user of my own plugin I can tell that its features make the IDE nicer, indeed.

Intended Audience

Anyone using NetBeans on Windows 7 is a potential user of SevenBeans. I'd like to get general opinions about the plugin, suggestions, feature requests or bug reports.

NetBeans Platform

I started reading about NetBeans out of curiosity. Later I was considering it as a platform for an enterprise software project. Unfortunately, this project was cancelled so my chance to build something serious based on the NetBeans Platform was lost. Now I returned to the platform while working on the SevenBeans module. However, I didn't dig deep inside the platform, since the module is just a bridge between NetBeans and my J7Goodies library.

By the way, I have a very obvious tip for developers starting with the NetBeans Platform: if you don't know how to do something, just study the NetBeans Platform's source code. This is a huge advantage of open source projects.

Upcoming Features

Probably I'm going to do some small improvements based on user feedback. There is still the thumbnail toolbar Windows 7 feature that I haven't found any use for yet. I'm also thinking about exporting a public interface so other plugins can use Windows 7 features, in places where that would make sense.

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