Did You Want Perspectives In NetBeans?

"Perspectives" as known from Eclipse are quite a controversial feature. Some people like them, some people hate them. In NetBeans you don't have to use perspectives, the UI is created in a way that it reacts on the tasks you are doing. However some people like perspectives and they were missing them in NetBeans till now. 

The good news is that there is a new plugin for NetBeans 6 which provides the perspectives functionality. You can create a perspective and rearrange your windows the way you like it. Then you can create a second perspective with a different arrangement, and switch between individual perspectives easily.

This plugin called MultiMode View is the newest addition to the plugin portal, so you can get the plugin here. I tried it in M10, but it requires a more recent daily build - and it worked nicely in the latest daily build. The creator of the plugin is Shakthi Anuradha and you can find his blog here. Thanks Anuradha for the plugin, I am sure many Ex-clipse users will like it :)

The UI of the plugin is very intuitive, but if you want to see it in action before using it Anuradha recorded a short screencast which demonstrates it.


I didn't miss perspectives from Eclipse, but having them available would be useful. I sometimes do like switching between different screen layouts and it would be nice to have that at a press of a button, but it's not like NB suffers in any significant way from no being able to do that at the moment, in my opinion. Not a big deal.

Posted by Peter Ashford on srpen 12, 2007 at 02:05 dop. CEST #

Well as a recent "convert" (still use Eclipse as well) perspectives _are_ a big deal. One of the things I miss most is the switching between Java and Debug perspective. I don't want the panels to stay the way they are! What is useful while editing becomes bothersome while debugging and vise-versa. In NB I keep opening and closing panels while switching between editing and debugging. So adding this as an official module to NB would get my vote! :-)

Posted by quintesse on srpen 12, 2007 at 09:12 dop. CEST #

Ah yes, now for the next bit I miss in NB: Workspaces :-)

I know that Project Groups are somehow supposed to help but I don't think the people who wrote the feature list of NB6 and said:

- "Project Groups (aka Workspaces)

really understood what workspaces are about. (Besides the fact it's yet another of those NB features that I just can't seem to be able to figure out by myself, it doesn't seem to do anything).

This post on JavaLobby says it all: http://www.javalobby.org/java/forums/t94629.html#92146724

"I really need support for workspaces. I have a number of different Eclipse workspaces with very different settings for coding style, etc. In NetBeans, my only recourse would be to have different user directories for each, and use a command line switch. That requires way too much planning."

Posted by quintesse on srpen 12, 2007 at 09:20 dop. CEST #

Ok, just an update to my last message: I just installed the latest nightly and now Project Groups seem to work as I would have expected so probably it was a bug in the m10 version I used before. It isn't exactly the same as workspaces but at least now I can group my projects according to their "meta project".

Posted by quintesse on srpen 12, 2007 at 10:25 dop. CEST #

Workspaces for different types of coding styles sounds nice, but one of the reasons I like netbeans better than eclipse is that it doesn't have or use perspectives.

I \*really\* hate the way eclipse's debugger perspective works and for me, the way netbeans works so head and shoulders above eclipse, especially the debugger.

Posted by Tom Corbin on srpen 12, 2007 at 10:39 dop. CEST #

@Tom: you do know that you could easily make the Eclipse perspective work as in NB if you don't like the default layout, don't you? The thing is that none of it is possible in NB so for me it's a big miss.

NB: Weird, I got the replies in the mail but I don't see them yet on the website

Posted by quintesse on srpen 12, 2007 at 10:50 dop. CEST #

"In NetBeans, my only recourse would be to have different user directories for each, and use a command line switch. That requires way too much planning."

Indeed this is what I did in the very first months of NetBeans use. At the moment I don't need different settings, but I can imagine that it could be useful. So, thanks to Shakthi.

Posted by Fabrizio Giudici on srpen 12, 2007 at 02:31 odp. CEST #

It took me a while to get used to Perspectives... but once I did, I don't know how I got on without them. I like being able to set up \*exactly\* what I need to see when I'm debugging and also to set up \*exactly\* what I need to see when I'm doing development work and being able to easily shift between them.

Posted by David Orriss Jr on srpen 12, 2007 at 03:10 odp. CEST #

I haven't missed perspectives since switching to NetBeans. If they are included, it should be as a plugin which is not included in the primary install.

Posted by Jeff on srpen 12, 2007 at 05:41 odp. CEST #

The value of perspectives:

A perspective allows you to change everything on screen to help you focus on the task at hand. When you are debugging an application, you probably don't need the package explorer, but you may want to watch variables, step over or into methods, etc. Once you're done debugging, those dialogs waste precious screen real estate. The same applies for updating/committing files to CVS. The perspective allows you to focus on the files that are relevant: new files that need to be booked out, files that have changed locally or remotely, etc.

A perspective is a 2 button click to change your screen layout to what you need at that point in time.

You don't need to use perspectives in Eclipse, most of it can be done in ways similar to NetBeans.

I started with NetBeans and didn't think a lot of Eclipse. Since I've switched to Eclipse, I've tried to switch back to NetBeans multiple times, but ended going back to Eclipse. No IDE is perfect, but an IDE without perspectives is just not worth trying out. :)

Posted by Cornelius du Toit on srpen 14, 2007 at 03:14 dop. CEST #

I think the netbeans team has laid out debugging and editing well enough - for me - that I appreciate not having my UI jump so dramtically around on me. For me the primary thing is the editor and the netbeans layout for debugging leaves that as my primary focus, which I appreciate.

As for the package explorer, I have the package, file, navigation, services, favorites, output, pretty much everything minimized to the side of the window until I need it.

I bring them up either by hovering with my mouse or a keyboard shortcut. That is one of my favorite features of netbeans (not that other editors don't allow it - I don't know).

I love the change in nb6 where the output window jumps up when it needs to but doesn't jump the whole UI back to the normal setup. I can't explain it right, but it is a major improvement.

The major thing I want is to be able to organize my favorites and group them. Right now it seems like they are ordered by when they are added. I'd like to be able to group them by project.

I love the favorites and use them quite a bit.

I think m10 is really good, even with the bugs it has.

I keep thinking about trying a nightly build, I hear they have improved quite a bit.

Posted by Tom Corbin on srpen 14, 2007 at 12:35 odp. CEST #

MultiMode View Rename to "Perspective"

see here for details http://theanuradha.blogspot.com/2007/08/multimode-view-rename-to-perspective.html

Posted by Anuradha G on srpen 17, 2007 at 12:09 dop. CEST #

I think workspaces or whatever you call project specific settings (indention, coding style, templates etc) are much more important than perspectives. When working on multiple projects for different customers, every project has a different template for the source files and I need to maintain several userdirs to accomplish this, very inconvenient.

Posted by Thomas on srpen 25, 2007 at 09:16 dop. CEST #

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Roman Strobl


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