Can I work on just one or two modules from the NetBeans source base by themselves?
Note: These pages are being reviewed.
Normally to work on modules versioned in the NetBeans
main Mercurial repository you need to clone the entire repository.
(For modules in
contrib, you need
contrib cloned as a subdirectory of
For people interested in just playing with patches to one or two modules this can be onerous, however.
As an alternative, you can work on "orphan" modules from the netbeans.org source base ( has details).
There are two issues to consider:
Mercurial currently does not let you clone or check out just a subdirectory of a repository, so you will need to get module sources some other way (we are still considering some possibilities).
Since "upstream" modules (that the module of interest depends on) are not available in source form, you need to have a recent development build of NetBeans available to compile against.
Quick usage guide
nb_alldir wherever you like. It must have at least the
nbbuilddir from the netbeans.org source tree.
nbbuild/user.build.propertiesand in it set the property
netbeans.dest.dirto the full path to a NetBeans IDE installation you would like to both compile against and build into (you should not use your real development IDE, rather a copy).
ant -f nbbuild/build.xml bootstrap
Add subdirs for any netbeans.org module projects you would like to work on. (The modules may be already present in the target platform. If they are not, you need to check out sources for any transitive dependencies not in the target platform too.)
Using the IDE, open the desired projects and work normally.
Source projects should open without error and without displaying error badges, assuming all dependencies are available in either source or binary form.
You can build the projects normally. The modules will be built into the target platform (overwriting any existing copy of the module).
You can use Run and Debug to start the target platform with a test userdir after building the modules, set breakpoints etc.
You can Test the source projects normally.
Code completion should work against APIs present in other modules. If those modules are available in source form, you will get popup Javadoc automatically, and can navigate to sources. If not, you can still add popup Javadoc capability for all published APIs:
Download "NetBeans API Documentation" from AU.
Open NetBeans Platform Manager.
Select the "default" platform and note the location of
NetBeansAPIDocs.zipin the Javadoc tab.
Create a new platform; select the same dir as you specified for
In the new platform, add
NetBeansAPIDocs.zipto the Javadoc tab.
If you want to work on unit or functional tests, you need to have all test-to-test dependencies available as source projects, because we do not distribute test libraries. Sometimes the transitive dependency tree can get a bit big. For example, if the functional tests use
org.netbeans.junit.ide.ProjectSupport, then you need to check out
java.j2seproject(in whose unit test dir this class resides), then its dependencies in turn:
openide.util. Test-to-module dependencies (e.g.
jellytools, …) can however be satisfied from the target platform’s binaries.
If you add new source modules to the tree, you will need to both restart NetBeans and delete the
nbbuild/nbproject/private/dir in order to reset all caches and ensure that the new sources are recognized.
Various targets in
nbbuild/build.xmlnot used in the above scenarios may or may not work usefully, though this should not affect routine module development.
The target platform needs to be new enough to support any API calls you are making from source modules into binary modules. If the platform is older, you could see error badges. Besides getting a newer platform, this can be corrected by adding sources of the new version of the API module to the tree.
Note that the
bootstrapant target will not work if you just copy
nbbuildfrom the netbeans.org source tree into
nb_all. Other than
nbbuildyou also need to copy directories:
Applies to: NetBeans 6.8 and above