Geertjan's Blog

  • August 6, 2009

Boeing Screenshots: And the Need for Company-Wide Java Desktop Frameworks

Geertjan Wielenga
Product Manager
In Find Out How Boeing Uses the NetBeans Platform! you can see a JavaOne presentation done by Boeing programmers about the applications they're building on the NetBeans Platform. In each case, their applications are built on top of a custom platform that they've created atop the NetBeans Platform. Their custom platform provides business-specific modules that all the other applications make use of, e.g., for analysis of the data that they all have in common.

Here are three screenshots, just to highlight these applications a bit, from their location at platform.netbeans.org:

In the middle of the screenshot above, showing the Mass Toolkit application, you see a 3D view for finite element analysis. The application takes an object, breaks it into pieces, and then figures out how those pieces interact. How the mass is distributed is shown in the central 3D area of the application above. Previously, you'd have Fortran applications and texts to figure out how much things weigh, while of course it is much easier when you have an image such as the above in front of you, rather than needing to strain your eyes over paper documents. In this application, the NetBeans Platform provides the multiple windows that you see open above, via the NetBeans Platform's Window Manager. The concept of Nodes, i.e., a piece of data that can be represented visually in different ways, is also crucial to this application, in particular in the Projects view shown in the top left of the application. The selected node determines what is displayed in the 3D view, as well as in the surrounding properties views. The NetBeans Platform synchronizes all these views for you.

In a couple of months this application was built on top of Boeing's platform. It is used for composite material analysis. It reuses the NetBeans welcome screen. For the programmer, it was just a question of assembling the pieces, because a large part of the analysis code was already done in historical applications, where it wasn't easy to use and find. Now, thanks to having integrated everything via their shared platform, all derivative applications gain from this centralization.

This is an application that was started after the others. It is used for cross-sectional structural analysis, where users look at a part and determine what size it needs to be in order to hold the load that is placed on it. It uses the Visual Library, which provides the palette on the right side, from where shapes can be dragged and dropped, after which parameters are set in the lower window for further analysis.

The way Boeing uses the NetBeans Platform reminds me of how Interactive Network Data do so, as described in How the NetBeans Platform is Used in Large Commercial Enterprise Environments.

Especially in corporations where industrial size applications are created, handling large amounts of complex data, you want to create a single shared platform, with business functionality on top of the NetBeans Platform, so that you can share your custom platform throughout the organization. The Boeing screenshots above show how they're doing that there.

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Comments ( 2 )
  • Tom Wheeler Thursday, August 6, 2009

    Wow, Geertjan. You really paid attention during our JavaOne presentation!

    I must point out one tiny mistake -- while XSA looks like it's using the Visual Library, it's really not. It's actually just a custom graphical explorer view we wrote (with a little help from Tim Boudreau).

  • Geertjan Friday, August 7, 2009

    Apologies for not getting that part right. And thanks again for letting me publish these pics!

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