When we wrote "Rich Client Programming: Plugging into the NetBeans Platform" (the 600 page must-read that is taking the New York bestseller list by storm), we wrote it in DocBook XML, using our own lightweight home-brewed tooling solution. I've blogged about this before and about how useful we found it. Tim (Boudreau) and Jesse (Glick) had created two NetBeans modules some time back and we simply installed them in some early build of 6.0 and hacked away at our chapters, then committed them to CVS, just like any other source file. There were some very powerful features to these modules, in particular the ability to generate HTML from an individual DocBook XML document or from the entire book, via one click of a menu item.

Now that the book is done, and the use of the DocBook modules has proven so effective, a few people within Sun are considering using them within other contexts. In these contexts, one can't really talk about "the DocBook modules" anymore, since that term is only meaningful to NetBeans developers. It makes more sense to talk about the whole product, which is a scaled-down version of NetBeans IDE plus the two DocBook modules, as a product in itself. In that sense, the fact that it provides support for local history is just as relevant as its DocBook-HTML generation facility, because the end user sees the product as one whole, not as a collection of modules. Currently, this is how the end product, tentatively called "DocBeans", looks:

There's also the possibility of us open sourcing this product, possibly on, so that the community at large can benefit from it and so that the product can be supported via that route. Because, after all, that's the main downside to choosing an internal solution over an external vendor... you need to provide support (e.g., bug fixes and feature enhancement requests) yourself! But, aside from this concern, DocBeans seems like an interesting avenue to explore.

In other news. Thanks for all the tips and tricks for setting up TwinView on Ubuntu 7.04! I can't announce the winner yet, because I first need to try the solutions, which means hooking my laptop up to a secondary display, which requires such a display, which means booking a room where all that equipment is found. So it may take some time, but in due course the rightful winner will be proclaimed and rewarded with the promised postcard!


Looks like those "DocBook To-Dos" should really appear in the task list window...

Posted by Jesse Glick on May 17, 2007 at 04:09 AM PDT #

Where do I go in Issuezilla to assign that issue to you? :-)

Posted by Geertjan on May 18, 2007 at 05:31 AM PDT #

Boy, this docbook stuff sure would be nice. And it would be a great advertisement for netbeans.

Posted by Tom Corbin on May 18, 2007 at 07:01 AM PDT #

When can we expect to see this 'beast' code? Any tentative 'release to the public' date?

Posted by Fabián Mandelbaum on July 31, 2007 at 01:02 AM PDT #

Yes I am also interested in an update. Thanks.

Posted by Chuck on July 31, 2007 at 07:18 AM PDT #

Good to see this interest. Check back now and then and you will get updated. Or send me an e-mail, to geertjan DOT wielenga AT sun DOT com, and I will keep you in the loop. If/when you send the e-mail, please specify what kind of features you would be most interested in, which will help us prioritize.

Posted by Geertjan on July 31, 2007 at 07:27 AM PDT #

Is docbeans still around? Closest thing I can find right now is SolBookXML (see

Posted by Eric on July 07, 2009 at 04:15 AM PDT #

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Geertjan Wielenga (@geertjanw) is a Principal Product Manager in the Oracle Developer Tools group living & working in Amsterdam. He is a Java technology enthusiast, evangelist, trainer, speaker, and writer. He blogs here daily.

The focus of this blog is mostly on NetBeans (a development tool primarily for Java programmers), with an occasional reference to NetBeans, and sometimes diverging to topics relating to NetBeans. And then there are days when NetBeans is mentioned, just for a change.


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