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Interview: Customer Service Software on the NetBeans Platform

02.08.2010
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An interview with two engineers from Artificial Solutions in Stockholm, Sweden... about their customer service solutions that make use of the NetBeans Platform!

Eric Aili: Currently working as Chief Architect, but worked as the lead developer in the Email Management System project during the first years. I’ve been using NetBeans for Java development since version 3.6, and used it daily since version 4.1.

Nicklas Löf: Working as Software developer on the Email Management System project and one of our internal applications based on the NetBeans Platform. I've been using the IDE since version 5.5. Here is a screenshot of the Email Management System (EMS):

What kind of software does Artificial Solutions produce?

Nicklas: Artificial Solutions provides solutions, technology and services that allow clients to offer higher quality customer service at significantly lower cost by optimizing the mix of traditional and digital customer service channels.

Our vision is that people all over the world shall receive a better customer service experience.

Artificial Solutions is truly international with employees representing 30 nations and supporting clients in over 20 countries and 23 languages. Our approach to the market is business value focused with a strong belief that technology is a tool to help our clients create maximum measurable value. We are very client focused, always trying to form long term partnerships with them while we at the same time take on the role to defend the end-user perspective. We are after all the experts on Customer Service Optimization.

The EMS app is based on the NetBeans Platform. How/when did you make that decision?

Eric: This decision was basically made by me sometime during the spring of 2006, when we began work on the Email Management System, which I was responsible for back then. The NetBeans Platform provided a working TreeTable implementation, a good Window Manager, modularity, and seems like the future for rich Java Swing applications.

What are three main advantages of using the NetBeans Platform for this application?

Eric: The Nodes, Window System and Explorer APIs, which have made a lot of things much easier. 

The modularity of the platform itself is another big bonus.

The Open Source license of both the platform and the IDE, which gave us the security of being able to create emergency patches for customers if needs arises while waiting for official patches, and also given examples of how to use the platform.

You also have some internal applications on the NetBeans Platform. Can you say a few words about those?

Eric: Our internal Time Reporting, Project Management and Resource Allocation system is based on the NetBeans Platform as well. We’ve also worked on quite a few different prototypes and mock-ups, using the NetBeans Platform as a natural base, using a wide array of the different APIs provided.

The NetBeans Platform was also chosen for the UI for our internal computer hardware, server and virtual machine inventory system.

The Nodes, Window System and Explorer APIs improved the application a lot compared to a simple plain Swing application.

What are some things that could be improved about the NetBeans Platform?

Nicklas: It would be wonderful if the NetBeans Platform team could work with the Java Web Start team to get it working better, and also provide guidelines and support on providing updates through JNLP.

It would be good if the layout of TopComponents through the XML Layer could receive either better settings or (even better) visual support, to avoid starting the application and copying and pasting the files from the user directory.

More best-practices and guidelines for how to modularize applications in line with the IDE would be wonderful as well, especially in the ServiceProvider area, where annotations improved this a lot, but best-practices and tips would give a lot as well.


Do you have one or two tips for NetBeans Platform developers?

Eric: Understand the Lookups API, it gives you so much when used properly! Also, don’t do FileSystem implementations when you can use Nodes.

Anything else you want to say?

Eric: For my part, it’s been amazing to see the improvements made to the NetBeans Platform during the last years, and especially in the documentation area!
 
When I started working with the platform, there was essentially one or two sample applications, your blog, the mailing list (where I’m still a lurker) and the JavaDoc reference, whilst... there are now quite a few books on the NetBeans Platform, the Wiki FAQ, and many more bloggers and samples.

 

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Geertjan Wielenga.