One can add support for other programming languages to Apache NetBeans using its Rich Client Platform API.
Support to a programming language can be considered complete when it provides support for:
- File type recognition
- Project type
- Semantic syntax highlighting and braces matching
- Code completion
- Navigation (jump to definition, peek definition, find all references, symbol search)
- Types and documentation on hover
- Code formatting
- Refactoring (e.g. rename, move)
- Error squiggles and apply suggestions from errors
- Build tasks
There are a number of ways to add support for a programming language, each one of them having its pros and cons. Most of the above are commonly supported by Apache NetBeans' Rich Client Platform APIs, but for some of them, different APIs have been developed that support one of the following technologies:
How to add support in NetBeans to a programming language?
First, you will need Apache NetBeans source code. Please download or clone it from here and build it.
1. File Type Recognition
The first thing to do is for NetBeans to be able to recognize the file type. E.g. if you are adding support for the kotlin programming language you would like NetBeans editor to be able to recognize
.kt source files.
New File → Module Development → File Type wizard. A MIME type must be specified. This MIME type will be the key under which other services will be looked up.
See the File Type Integration Tutorial for more details on how to add File Type recognition support. A
DataObject file will be created with a number of annotations.
Important Note! Make sure to create your module inside your cloned Apache NetBeans source code. Your module will need some files from
Take a look at
rust/rust.sources/src/org/netbeans/modules/rust/sources/rs/RustFileDataObject.java as examples of
Hint! To open a source file easily, click on Window → Favorites and navigate to the source file (e.g. a
.kt file if you are adding support for kotlin, or a
.rs source file for Rust)
2. Custom project types
You may want to create a new "Project Type" for your specific language. More explicitly, when you click on File → New Project, you can customize the New Project wizard dialog to create a new project for your language. For instance, "Rust" projects usually have a folder structure defined by the "cargo" tool.
rust/rust.project.api module allows the user to create a new cargo project.
The NetBeans Project Type Tutorial is a good starting point.
3. Semantic Syntax highlighting and brace matching
Without syntax highlighting, NetBeans opens the source file as a text file. Each technology uses different ways to support syntax highlighting:
4. Code Completion
Navigation includes: jump to definition, peek definition, find all references, symbol search etc.
6. Types and documentation on hover
7. Code formatting
NetBeans IDE provides the Options window (menu Tools
→ Options or NetBeans
→ Preferences on MacOS) that allows the user to customize it. You can provide any customizations for your language support in the Options window, too. E.g. you could allow the user to provide the path to the Kotlin compiler. See e.g.
rust/rust.cargo module that allows the user to provide the path to
cargo for Rust projects.
The NetBeans Options Window Module Tutorial explains how you could do that.
Refactorings like e.g. rename, move are supported by all major IDEs.
10. Error squiggles and apply suggestions from errors
13. Build tasks
NetBeans Specific Resources
Rich Client Programming: Plugging into the NetBeans Platform https://www.amazon.com/Rich-Client-Programming-Plugging-NetBeans/dp/0132354802
Apache NetBeans Platform for Beginners https://leanpub.com/nbp4beginners
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