We had another great NetBeans Platform training at the Faculty of Organisational Sciences in Belgrade. It was a two day training course where we had a good time discovering the NetBeans Platform, and we've tried some new things this time.
First day was standard introduction to the NetBeans Platform, modular applications, Windows, Dialogs, Lookup and Nodes API. Although that's a lot of things to cover in just six hours, we managed to do it, by using the same CdCatalog project for all examples, and incrementally adding features with each API. This turned out to save time, and provide a meaningful example. We also figured some ways how to improve our existing training materials (project samples and tutorials) and teaching practice
Second day of training was different from the standard approach. In the begining, we did the standard File Type Integration (Filesystem and Datasystem), branding, deploying, and creating a help system. Then, since we decided to do the Visual Library API, instead coding some examples, first we decided to show what it can do and analyze some existing code. So everyone downloaded the Visual Library Examples and started playing with them. All the students were very excited when trying these examples, and best of all, there were full sources that were easy to follow for each example. During this exercise, we explained the basic classes and principles of the Visual Library API. Then we wrote some simple code to get our hands on it. This approach turned out to be very motivating and fun for all the students.
From our experience, these trainings are great, but they are not enough to learn the NetBeans Platform technology. The training gives a good overview of what's in there, and provides a good basis for getting started, but if the students don't continue to work with the NetBeans Platform, then they won't be able to learn it. So, we decided to propose that the students participate in some of the ongoing the NetBeans Platform projects.
We've identified two interesting project opportunities :
- To improve existing image recognition support from Neuroph by adding some image browsing and basic image manipulation from Bluemarine. The idea is to provide some nice image chooser and manipulation when choosing and prepareing images. This image recognition tool will be more friendly and easy to use.
- To create a visual editor for the new UML tool for NetBeans IDE and join the Eidos project. We already talked to Eidos team and they've welcomed this contribution. There is also the idea to create a team that will be specialized for the Visual Library API and create visual editors and maybe even build some higher level API on top of it in future.
Altogether, it was a great experience and we're expecting many interesting things to come.
More info, photos and training materials is available here.