BASIS NetBeans IDE Overview

In BBj 15.0 and higher, the NetBeans IDE has been superseded by the BDT Eclipse plug-in. See BASIS and the IDE.

The Integrated Development Environment (IDE), as its name says, integrates legacy disparate tools - DDBuilder, ResBuilder, and GUIBuilder with their IDE counterparts - Data Dictionary, FormBuilder, and AppBuilder modules.

The IDE in BBj version 2.0 and higher is based on the NetBeans IDE, a freely available and extensible open source software development environment written in Java. See for more information about NetBeans and its history.

NetBeans is designed to accept plug-in modules that provide new capabilities or change its appearance and operation. The BASIS IDE is a collection of modules designed to equip the NetBeans IDE with tools for developing applications with any BBx interpreter - PRO/5, Visual PRO/5, or BBj. All of the Java software development capabilities are retained, making it possible to work with BBx and Java projects simultaneously.

The NetBeans IDE contains a built-in help system (see Help on the main menu), which documents the basic operation of the IDE relating to Java software development. Therefore, only Business BASIC-specific features of the IDE will be covered here.

It is important to note that while it is possible to download the NetBeans IDE directly from the NetBeans website rather than using the version provided with BBj, it will not be possible to configure it as the BASIS IDE. The Business BASIC-specific modules are designed for NetBeans version 3.6 and will not successfully operate with earlier or later versions, nor are the modules available as a separate install.

Configuring the IDE

The IDE can be customized to suit individual preference. During the initial installation, the user chooses to run the IDE in SDI mode, where each component of the IDE appears in its own floating window and minimizes to a separate icon, or MDI mode, where the major components are grouped together inside a single window and minimize to a single icon. Individual IDE components are opened, resized, repositioned, or "docked" (attached) to the edge of other components to present the exact view desired. The component arrangements and contents are preserved and restored from session to session. The Options window (Tools > Options from the main menu) allows a number of IDE settings to be customized, such as the colors seen in the editors, the modules activated when the IDE is started, the paths to other executable programs, and the content of menus and toolbars.

See Configuring the BASIS IDE for more information.

BASIS IDE Features

The Explorer

The Explorer Filesystems tab presents a hierarchical view of directories and files that have been mounted for use in NetBeans. Files that are used by BBx or one of their accessory programs, such as AppBuilder, are identified by unique icons to the left of the name. Clicking on one of these files with the left mouse button selects it, while clicking with the right mouse button opens a popup menu displaying the operations available for that file.

See BASIS IDE Explorer for more information.

The Source Editor

The Source Editor is a modern programmer's text editor that is optimized for writing Business BASIC source code. BBx program files in either text or tokenized format can be opened and edited. The Source Editor provides color syntax highlighting and sophisticated editing features such as advanced text find and replace, keyboard macros, word matching, abbreviation expansion, and quick navigation with bookmarks or Go To line number. Automatic popup code completion simplifies the use of BBj Object Syntax. Breakpoints can be set and saved from the Source Editor for convenience in later debugging sessions. The Source Editor is not connected with a BBj interpreter session and therefore does not require BBjServices to be running when it is used. It is the tool of choice when writing new code or making extensive changes to existing source files. When BBx source code is compiled, any resulting errors are displayed in the Source Editor via hyperlinks from the Compiler Output Window.

See BASIS IDE Source Editor for more information.

The Debugger

The Debugger incorporates BBj debugging and editing tools into the NetBeans environment, adding the ability to work with multiple files and manage projects. The Debugger features color syntax highlighting and code completion like the Source Editor, although other advanced code editing features may not be available. Unlike the Source Editor, the Debugger is always connected to a BBj interpreter and performs automatic syntax error checking as code is modified. Programs can be executed in the Debugger via command line dot-stepping. Breakpoints can be inserted to control the flow, and variables can be monitored in the Watch Tab. The Debugger is the tool of choice for testing application code and making minor editing corrections.

See BASIS IDE Debugger for more information.

The Compiler

The IDE allows the compiling of Business BASIC source code into three different token formats. If a development system has PRO/5 installed along with BBj, tokenized program files can be created in any of these formats. Text files and directories of files to be compiled are selected in the NetBeans Explorer. Choosing Compile/Compile All or Build/Build All from the menu feeds all the selected files or directories to the compiler of the desired token format. Any resulting errors are displayed as hyperlinks in the NetBeans Compiler Output Window. Double-clicking on an error hyperlink causes the original text source file to be automatically opened in the Source Editor, where the line containing the error is highlighted.

See BASIS IDE Compiler for more information.

The Data File Viewer

The Data File Viewer provides a convenient way to view the contents of database files. Like the character-based _browse utility, it does not allow creation or editing of data files, but instead displays their contents in hexadecimal and ASCII. The Data File Viewer uses the BBj Filesystem Server to open and parse database files, which means that BBjServices must be running in order to use it.

See BASIS IDE Data File Viewer for more information.

The Data Dictionary

The IDE's Data Dictionary plug-in module provides the ability to view and maintain BASIS data dictionaries in the same environment used for developing applications. Like the previous tool, DDBuilder, the Data Dictionary module provides access to dictionaries located on the local machine (or accessible via mapped drives or UNIX mounts) as well as dictionaries accessible through PRO/5 Data Servers. However, unlike DDBuilder, the Data Dictionary has access to remote BBj databases, and is available on all supported UNIX platforms with GUI support.

See BASIS IDE Data Dictionary for more information.

The FormBuilder

The FormBuilder plug-in module replaces the MS Windows-only ResBuilder utility and is used to create graphical user interfaces for BBj programs. Graphical controls are arranged on a "form" just as they will appear in the application program. FormBuilder saves the resulting interface to an ASCII resource file with the extension .arc, which BBj uses to create the actual GUI interface at runtime.

See FormBuilder/AppBuilder Overview for more information.