Well, after Part 1, i.e., two years ago, it was time to have another NetBeans Platform course in Amsterdam! Last time the course was held at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, which ultimately led to Ralph Benjamin Ruijs moving from Amsterdam to Prague and joining the NetBeans Java Editor team and Ingmar Hendriks writing a whole bunch of amazing NetBeans Platform applications and plugins, currently the RS232 Communication Plugin for embedded developers, which Oracle Senior Technology Evangelist Terrence Barr has been blogging about.
Recently, the course was held at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam... and here's the group pic! (Joris Snellenburg, the course organizer and NetBeans Platform enthusiast, took the pic below, hence he's not in it. The pic was taken in front of a map of the largest farm in the Netherlands, as presented by AgroSense, one of the applications discussed below.)
Aside from all the standard NetBeans Platform topics—modularity, loose coupling, nodes, explorer views, actions, and visual library—there were, as always, some demonstrations of real applications. The purpose of these demonstrations, always done on the last day of the course, is to show students how the concepts they've studied apply to real use cases in the software development world... and to inspire them to do something similar (also in order to become NetBeans Platform Certified Engineers) or to actually join one of these projects.
In that context, first up was Joris Snellenburg who presented an application that he, together with Sergey Laptenok, spent a year working on fulltime for a masters research project in spectroscopy analysis:
The project is named Glotaran (details here) and has been downloaded and used by a few hundred biophysicians, and others in the academic community, over the past few years. All the standard NetBeans Platform concepts are applied in this application, including (as can be seen above) ComponentWidgets from the Visual Library, containing Swing JComponents for visualizing underlying data. (There's also a very cool double scrollbar that I'd like to find out more about and blog about soon!)
Next, Timon Veenstra presented AgroSense (details here), the world's first open-source farm management system. Developed fulltime by a team of engineers at Dutch software consultancy Ordina (that must be an amazing company to work for, i.e., a software consultancy creating, among other things, an open-source system for farm management) the business model is based on delivering a free application to farmers, so that they'll get used to the product, after which additional features can be sold to them, kind of like an app store for farm management. The development team, led by Timon, already have a good relationship with several farmers and release a new version of their application every two weeks, so development is fast and furious, in an agile way, with close interaction with farming communities. (They're looking for more developers as we speak!) Partnerships are also being set up with other software organizations to contribute features to this application.
Aside from the two projects above, which anyone is extremely welcome to join, there was also interest in porting Jmol (open-source Java viewer for chemical structures in 3D) to the NetBeans Platform. Maybe a hacking session can be held in an Amsterdam pub sometime in the near future, to start working on this very interesting idea.
As one can imagine, from the above text, there was a lot of enthusiasm on the course, there were a lot of interesting discussions, and the group went home with a lot of food for thought! Many thanks to Joris Snellenburg, and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, for setting up the course, organizing it so well, and also providing great food, drinks, and snacks.