Fabrizio Giudici is a Senior Java Architect with a long Java experience in the industrial field. He runs Tidalwave, his own consultancy company, and has contributed to Java success stories in a number of fields, including Formula One. Fabrizio often appears as a speaker at international Java conferences such as JavaOne and Devoxx and is member of JUG Milano and the NetBeans Dream Team. Fabrizio is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 67 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Using the NetBeans Platform on the Server with Wicket on the Client

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Let's suppose you have developed a rather complex desktop application based on the NetBeans Platform, and later you discover that you could reuse lots of things for another customer's project, this time a regular web application. Well, what to do? You can't use the NetBeans Platform to create a componentized server-side application, right? It looks like you have to disassemble your desktop application, take the .jars out of the NetBeans .nbm modules (a thing that I informally call "flattening" a platform) and so on. Of course, you perhaps reuse some code, but completely lose the componentized architecture advantages. Right?

Wrong. You can use the NetBeans Platform to create a server side application! Your components just stay the same (of course, if you properly separated the models and controllers from the GUIs) and you can just reuse the binaries (OSGi people are probably acquainted with that, especially since when Glassfish supports it - the news is that the NetBeans Platform can be used as well).

Indeed, Jaroslav Tulach already talked two years ago about the NetBeans Platform on the server side (hell, is there in the world something that that guy hasn't done yet?), with a project name "DVB Central". As Tim Boudreau wrote, DVB central is a "bare bone" Platform (basically the BootStrap, Startup, File System, Utilities, and Module System APIs) deprived of any Swing part, that contains a small HTTP server used for remote administration.

My needs (because - you guessed it - I'm talking of a real-world scenario here) are more complex: I need to reuse more NetBeans Platform modules (e.g. DataObjects); the application should not be a "standalone application embedding an HTTP server" but a regular web application deployable as a .war within Tomcat; and I also need to use a web framework for it (namely, Wicket). Furthermore, the application needs to expose a WebDAV interface and some REST modules.

While it took a while to get to it, the currently polished solution is cleaner than I expected, and I'm going to show you how it works. The project that is build on it is blueOcean, a new member of the blueMarine family. It is basically a "server side" blueMarine, with the non GUI modules that implements the cataloguing system. While it's not yet entirely available as a complete application (it's rather a base platform that I'm using to create the customer's application, which has the user interface), it is available since one or two days at blueocean.dev.java.net and you can look at it for seeing the technical solutions I'm going to illustrate (and in a matter of weeks the website blueocean.tidalwave.it should be born). Please be aware that this article assumes that you have some basic knowledge about deploying .war applications and also about how NetBeans Platform applications are made.

Published at DZone with permission of Fabrizio Giudici, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Harris Goldstone replied on Fri, 2009/01/09 - 3:25pm

In a Wicket application, what is some of the typical functionality that I could let the NetBeans Platform handle?

Fabrizio Giudici replied on Sun, 2009/01/11 - 7:12am

Hi Harris.

At the moment, the great advantage is for what concerns the tier of services and models, that is the business tier. It is something that can be best clarified by examples, and I'll post some in future here on DZone (also with other two "series" of posts about NetBeans Platform Idioms etc...); for the moment, take this small one: I have a Metadata infrastructure that allow to extract metadata from media (e.g. photos), eventually store them in a database, where they can be searched for. Every kind of metadata (EXIF, IPTC, whatever) is implemented by separate modules, as well as persistence in the database is enabled by just adding specific modules, without requiring any configuration. This means that I can easily satisfy different needs (blueMarine itself, blueOcean base, blueOcean as used by my customer, and hopefully other future customers) by just assembling different set of modules in specific custom platforms. This has been achieved mostly by means of the Lookup API (and in future I could use more the layer.xml facility). Most of this stuff could be used also by taking simple .jars as libraries out of the NetBeans Platform; but as the number of configurations increases, it is really important to have the capability of checking compatibilities and dependencies among modules. You could be always safe with a good testing, but in any case I appreciate when a static tool finds / prevents problems as early as possible. Furthermore, having the very same process for two different projects is a big time saver for me.

There are two different uses of the Platform that I'll evaluate soon. First is the "Event Bus" (based on "Central Lookup" by Wade Chandler) that I've talked about a few months ago; in blueMarine it introduces another great deal of decoupling that in the customer's project based on blueOcean I don't have yet. While the Event Bus as is works fine with a single user (it is a singleton), it must be adapted in the case of concurrency (it should be enough to write a variant based on ThreadLocal). Second is about the use of Nodes for a number of things, including dynamic generation of menus based on the functions that you have dynamically included in the current configuration. This is more sensible because of the cited potential problem with the AWT Thread, which would be a serious bottleneck on the server side.

Aldo Brucale replied on Mon, 2009/01/19 - 8:49am

How can I access org.netbeans.Main from my module? It belongs to the Bootstrap module, but when I add this dependency and try to compile, the build system says that the module containing NetBeansPlatformUtils "is not a friend of <nb-platform-dir>/nbbuild/netbeans/platform9/lib/boot.jar".

Fabrizio Giudici replied on Mon, 2009/01/19 - 9:08am

Actually I've never used the o.n.Main from a Platform module - since it's boot code, I've used it from plain JSE code, and of course I've just included the relevant .jar in the path. For what reason do you need to access o.n.Main from a _Platform_ module? Before searching for you a solution to your question, maybe we can find another, better way to do the thing you're trying.

Aldo Brucale replied on Mon, 2009/01/19 - 11:22am in response to: Fabrizio Giudici

Thank you Fabrizio, of course a module cannot boot the application that is supposed to load it!

I placed the servlet in a regular web project, now it works perfectly. Very interesting, thank you.

Matthew Dempesy replied on Sat, 2011/01/08 - 9:30pm

The module which I was planning to work was purely based on server side application only. I would prefer to use netbeans on my Cloud Hosting server platforms. I have not tried it fully. I would hope that things go cool, without creating much of problems to my head. This writeup which is concerned with the server side process would certainly help me in achieving my goals. If any help I would need I would be here to clear that.

Matt Coleman replied on Thu, 2013/02/21 - 1:09am in response to: Fabrizio Giudici

thanks for explaining this issue Fabrizio..I now understand why

buffalo freelance web designer 

Cata Nic replied on Tue, 2013/09/03 - 3:17am

 Is it possible to use a CDN solution for that. I mean... it will be useful to offer a part of the data via a CDN.

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