Geertjan's Blog

  • October 21, 2013

OrbitFX: JavaFX 8 3D & NetBeans Platform in Space!

Geertjan Wielenga
Product Manager

Here is a collection of screenshots from a proof of concept tool being developed by Nickolas Sabey and Sean Phillips from a.i. solutions. Before going further, read a great new article here written on java.net by Kevin Farnham, in light of the Duke's Choice Award (DCA) recently received at JavaOne 2013 by the a.i. solutions team. Here's Sean receiving the award on behalf of the a.i. solutions team, surrounded by the DCA selection committee and other officials:

They won the DCA for helping facilitate and deploy the 2014 launch of NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, using JDK 7, the NetBeans Platform, and JavaFX to create the GEONS Ground Support System, helping reduce software development time by approximately 35%.

The prototype tool that Nicklas and Sean are now working on uses JavaFX 3D with the NetBeans Platform and is nicknamed OrbitFX. Much of the early development is being done to experiment with different patterns, so that accuracy is currently not the goal. For example, you'll notice in the screenshots that the Earth is really close to the Sun, which is obviously not correct.

The screenshots are generated using Java 8 build 111, together with NetBeans Platform 7.4. Inspired by various JavaOne demos using JavaFX 3D, Nick began development integrating them into their existing NetBeans Platform infrastructure.

The 3D scene showing the Sun and Earth objects is all JavaFX 8 3D, demonstrating the use of Phong Material support, along with multiple light and camera objects. Each JavaFX component extends a JFXPanel type, so that each can easily be added to NetBeans Platform TopComponents. Right-clicking an item in the explorer view offers a context menu that animates and centers the 3D scene on the selected celestial body. 

With each JavaFX scene component wrapped in a JFXPanel, they can easily be integrated into a NetBeans Platform Visual Library scene.  In this case, Nick and Sean are using an instance of their custom Slipstream PinGraphScene, which is an extension of the NetBeans Platform VMDGraphScene.

Now, via the NetBeans Platform Visual Library, the OrbitFX celestial body viewer can be used in the same space as a WorldWind viewer, which is provided by a previously developed plugin.

"This is a clear demonstration of the power of the NetBeans Platform as an application development framework," says Sean Phillips. "How else could you have so much rich application support placed literally side by side so easily?"

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