The latest NetBeans Weekly Newsletter reveals that there are many NetBeans Platform trainings coming up. If you're about to attend one, you might be wondering how best to prepare for the event. What should be on your laptop? Are there any special plugins you need to install? Any special reading you need to do?
Here are my recommendations for preparing for a NetBeans Platform training:
  • Get the Smallest Relevant & Newest NetBeans IDE Distribution. You'll be learning how to create Swing applications. So why do you have the "All" distribution installed? Get the smallest relevant version of the latest release of NetBeans IDE. To do this, go to the Downloads page, find the latest version (leftmost tab on the page, i.e., 6.9.1, at the time of writing), and download the "Java SE" distribution.
    Already have a different distribution installed? Not to worry. Get the above distribution and use that throughout the course. The smallest distribution has the modules you need and nothing extra. That will speed up start up time during the course, as well as performance. Plus there won't be all sorts of features that you won't need to use but that will confuse you when you see them.
  • Get a Fresh User Directory. The user directory is where all the customizations you make in NetBeans IDE are found. For example, when you move a window to a different place in the IDE, that new place is stored in the user directory so that at the next start up of the application the customized position of the window is used instead of its default position. Possibly you've been using the same user directory for many months or years and things might have got messed up, from release to release. Start the NetBeans Platform training with a clean slate. Remove the user directory and then, when the IDE starts up again, a new user directory is created for you. Don't know what or where the user directory is? Read this FAQ.
    Get the NetBeans API Javadoc Plugin. Go to Tools | Plugins and then go to the "Available Plugins" tab. In the "Search" box, type "NetBeans API". The filter then shows you "NetBeans API Documentation". Install it. Now you'll be able to browse the javadoc of the NetBeans API classes (such as "TopComponent") in the NetBeans Java editor. You will also be able to look at the source code of the NetBeans API classes, from within the NetBeans Java editor (press Ctrl-Click on a class name and then you will be able to hyperlink into the source code).
That's it. You're ready for the course. The above are the only things you need to do to get ready.
In addition to the above, though, if you'd like some additional extra tasks, just to get slightly more prepared than the bare essentials, consider the following, purely as optional things:
  • Get familiar with NetBeans IDE. During the course, NetBeans IDE is used as the development environment for learning about the NetBeans Platform, simply because it provides templates and other tools that other IDEs lack. If you're not familiar with NetBeans IDE, not to worry. You'll pick up everything you need during the course. But, just to prepare, you can have a look at the Keyboard Shortcuts Card under the Help menu, where you'll find many tips and tricks. Also, have a look through some of the NetBeans IDE documents on the Documentation, Training, and Support page, just to get a feel for the things that NetBeans IDE provides.

    Get Familiar with the NetBeans Platform. Go to the NetBeans Platform Homepage (which has just been redone) and look at the various resources available, in particular, take a few of the beginner tutorials on the NetBeans Platform Learning Trail. Highly recommended is the Essential NetBeans Platform Refcard, which will give you a good feel for everything that the NetBeans Platform provides. The NetBeans Platform Screenshots page can serve as inspiration for the cool applications you'll be able to create after completing the course.
Tip. In general, it's a good idea to run through one tutorial in the IDE, just to see that everything is working as you would expect and so that you can tell the trainer about any problems you've encountered in your installation of NetBeans IDE. Better to have problems known up front than to discover them later and have those problems slow down the course.
Have fun at your NetBeans Platform training session!


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