Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Introducing SevenBeans: NetBeans Windows 7 integration module

SevenBeans, a module for NetBeans IDE (or any other NetBeans Platform application), provides all Windows 7 taskbar extensions, excluding the thumbnail toolbar. 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:

The technology behind it

SevenBeans uses J7Goodies - a Java library that provides all Windows 7 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 SevenBeans user base is growing at an incredibly fast pace and it is getting a very good feedback.

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