Developing GWT Applications with NetBeans

Posted by Tom Stocky - Wednesday, December 12, 2007 at 10:04:00 AM

We're excited to have another guest blog post for you, brought to you by Jeet Kaul, VP of Sun's Developer Products and Programs. He's here to talk about using NetBeans to build web apps with GWT.

Google Web Toolkit is getting a lot of attention in the web developer community thanks to its interesting way of avoiding the need to write JavaScript code for interactive web applications. Developers from the NetBeans community recognized the benefits of such a solution and created a plug-in which integrates GWT support into the NetBeans IDE. NetBeans users can now choose GWT as one of the supported web frameworks, and NetBeans then helps them with all the important tasks such as editing, building, running and debugging GWT applications. Here's how to get started with GWT development in NetBeans and where to find more information about the plug-in.

Although GWT is not supported in NetBeans 6 out of the box, you can download this GWT plug-in and start developing GWT-based applications in NetBeans.

The first step is to install the plug-in using the Plug-in manager. Go to the "Tools | Plugins" menu action, switch to the "Downloaded" tab and locate the plug-in on your disk drive. You don't even have to restart your IDE - GWT support is instantly available for you!

The plug-in is seamlessly integrated into NetBeans IDE. That means that when you create a new web application GWT is shown as one of the available frameworks in the last step of the New project wizard. Here you can specify the GWT installation folder and choose the main entry point class of your GWT module.

You can use the plug-in both if you start from scratch or if you want to work on an existing GWT application. So if you used a different IDE than NetBeans before, it is easy to switch the GWT application to NetBeans. You just point the wizard to your existing GWT application and create a new project from existing sources.

Once you get the project created you can run the application simply by hitting the Run button. There are two options – you can either use the default Run action which deploys the application to the application server and opens your default web browser. The other option is to run GWT in hosted mode and then the GWT development shell is opened and you can see your application inside of it.

Debugging is also supported, so you can just run the Debug action and then the runtime is ran in debug mode. You can simply add breakpoints, step into, step out, etc. as you would expect in a regular web application.

NetBeans already provides lots of tooling out of the box that you can take advantage of, like a powerful XML editor, HTML editor and of course a Java editor with code completion and quick fixes. NetBeans 6 made huge strides in improving the editing experience and it shows when developing GWT applications, too. All GWT APIs are available for you including javadoc documentation, because the GWT jars get automatically added into the project during it's creation.

To learn more about GWT support in NetBeans, the project homepage and screencast can help you get started. Sang Shin, a member of the Sun technology evangelism team, also created a free course for GWT and NetBeans, so you can learn from his examples and do the hands-on lab.

The plug-in was developed as an open source project so we encourage developers to join the project and contribute. There are many ways you can contribute, even submitting an issue or request for enhancement counts.

The future roadmap contains exciting features such as refactoring for GWT and GWT-specific quick fixes in the editor which will make developing GWT code even more comfortable. We are always looking for feedback, so if you try out the project let the developers know what you think.

Another project that may be of interest is jMaki, an AJAX framework that provides a lightweight model for creating JavaScript centric AJAX-enabled web applications using Java, Ruby, PHP, and Phobos. jMaki has an integrated NetBeans module for all the above languages, and some new features are being developed that will expose all the jMaki widgets as GWT java components, easily accessible to GWT application developers using NetBeans.

There's also Project Woodstock, which provides the next generation of User Interface Components for the web, based on Java Server Faces and AJAX. This open source collaboration enables a community of developers to create powerful and intuitive web applications that are accessible and localizable, and which are based on a uniform set of guidelines and components, to help ensure ease of development and ease of use. These components enable visual web application development in NetBeans. Just drag and drop from the palette into the designer canvas and visually bind them to heterogeneous back end data sources (e.g. databases, Web Services, EJBs). Build powerful applications in minutes.

The NetBeans community has been growing a lot in past several years and NetBeans became a truly universal IDE, so if you haven't tried it recently, you may be surprised about the progress it has made. After all, it won't cost you much - it's free and open source. So give it a try today!


joseph said...

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

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Amrit Rathi said...

thanks for this!