Writing a JavaFX PDF Viewer plugin for Netbeans – 1. Introduction

netbeans Java FX logoIntroduction

Welcome to the first in this series on writing a plugin in NetBeans. This will be a whole series of articles as we develop a new plugin using NetBeans. In our example, we will be developing a JavaFX PDF Viewer but the aim is to provide a generic tutorial exploring the NetBeans platform.

I wrote our original PDF viewer plugin in 2008 and both NetBeans and Java have seen a lot of changes since then. So we have decided to write a new one from scratch, using JavaFX where possible and all the latest features in NetBeans 7.4 for development.

IDRsolutions and PDF

The focus for IDRsolutions is on providing solutions for developers to display and access PDF files. We have had a Java PDF Viewer since 2002 and recently developed a PDF to HTML5/SVG converter (you can see some examples here). We have also been extending our PDF support to include XFA files. Our focus has always been Java so looking at JavaFX as a way to display PDF files is a natural extension for us…

Why write a plugin?

NetBeans is a very modular IDE. This means it is very easy to extend by adding your own code (a plugin). It also consists of a huge body of useful and tested code which you can use as a library for your own developments (Rich Client Programs). In this case, the NetBeans IDE disappears (you just use what you need from the NetBeans platform).

You would use if for the same reason you use an IDE rather than a text editor to write your code (lots of functionality and much faster to develop). There is considerable overlap between plugins and RCPs so plugins are also a very good starting point for further development.

What do you need to write a plugin?

Everything you need to create a plugin is built into the latest versions of NetBeans. We recommend you use the latest current NetBeans release (NetBeans 7.4 at the time or writing). You will also need a jar file for the PDF viewer code. We will provide a cutdown version of our commercial jar, with just the minimal code needed for the plugin. This will be a free download but without any warranty or support. You will also be able to use our full commercial version which will provide more features and support.

What costs are involved?

NetBeans itself is free and we will provide a free Jar to add the JavaFX viewing component for the plugin. So the only cost involved is an investment in time from you….

Next time

We will be straight into creating a NetBeans plugin. Your homework is to visit the Netbeans site and download NetBeans (I recommend the full version). When you are ready, move onto part 2.

Spoiler for the impatient….

If you really cannot wait and just want to install the plugin, you can download the plugin from the Netbeans plugin portal.. Remember this is just the first release and we will be adding a whole load of features over the coming months!

This post is part of our “NetBeans article Index” series. In these articles, we aim to explore NetBeans in different ways, from useful hint and tips, to our how-to’s, experiences and usage of the NetBeans IDE.

Click here for the next article in the series.

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Mark Stephens

System Architect and Lead Developer at IDRSolutions
Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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About Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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