A new old keybinding for NetBeans IDE
"I'm back to 100% productivity again!" Rob cheers on the openide-dev mailing list.
And his fellow community member Antonio asks
"Where can I make a donation to this project?"
The project they are so excited about is the new
jVi plugin for NetBeans IDE 5.5.
The developer looking forward to (hopefully) incoming donations
is Ernie Rael. The preview NBM he just released
is an editor module enabling you to use vi editor commands in NetBeans IDE.
If you now ask "Why would anybody want vi keybindings?" then, sorry,
this plugin is not for you. The target group is developers who have
internalized vi shortcuts to a degree that it significantly
speeds up their coding.
Has it ever occured to you how much time
it takes to click and select text with the mouse? Vi shortcuts let you jump to any spot
in your code, copy from and paste to several clipboards,
search and replace regular expression patterns,
and swap, delete or replace characters, words, lines or paragraphs --
all with a few keystrokes.
Combine your vi skills with an IDE like NetBeans and you get a true killer app.
Yes, the learning curve for vi is steep. But we are not suggesting you should
start learning vi. We are suggesting that developers who already know
vi should be enabled to continue using it. Just like developers who
are used to Emacs or Eclipse have the option of leveraging
their existing knowledge of those keybindings.
The current release of NetBeans IDE (5.5) already comes with
the default NetBeans keybindings as well as Emacs and Eclipse keybindings.
There used to be vim 6.2
keybindings provided by the
External Editor team.
But that was around the time of NetBeans 3.5, over three years ago.
Now that Ernie ventured out to revitalize this famous set of keybindings,
the response is as enthusiastic as for the first implemenatation.
To give you a picture, here are a few examples of vim commands I use a lot:
G (jump to beginning or end of file)
4yy (delete or copy 4 lines)
:.,+5s/foo/bar/g (between here and the next 5 lines, replace all 'foo's with 'bar's)
ddp (swap two letters, two words, two lines)
tx (move the cursor onto, or before, the next occurence of letter x)
reg: to peek at the content of your 26 clipboards.
"ayw to yank a word into register a, or
"zyy to yank a line into register z.
Paste the content of register a with
"aP, and z with
Note that installing jvi does not block normal commands like ctrl-c and ctrl-v.
Code completion still works as expected in all kinds of files that I tested (java, html).
You can also still use the mouse to position the cursor and select text.
Install the Module
The module consists of two NBMs, the first is the jVi implementation,
and the second one, nbVi, handles NetBeans integration.
"jVi is designed to be quickly and easily integrated into various Java-based
desktop apps," explains Ernie, "from IDE's to mail-news readers."
Follow these steps to try the module out for yourself.
- First make sure you have Java 5 or better, and NetBeans IDE 5.5 installed.
the jvi zip file from sourceforce and extract it.
- In the IDE, save all your open projects's changes.
Select Update Center from the tools menu and check
Install Manually Downloaded Modules, then click Next.
- In the installer wizard, add the two .nbm files that you find
in the "nbvi-0.8.0x8" directory
- Complete the wizard. Accept the certificate and
check the "Include" checkbox to install it.
- Restart NetBeans when prompted to do so.
You can tell the installation was successful
when you see the cursor turn into a black box in the Editor.
When you now type a colon
you should see the vi input line appear at the bottom of the page.
Press escape to return to vim's normal command mode.
You probably will want to customize your vim keybindings.
Select Options from the Tools menu and click the Advanced Options button.
There you'll find a new "Editing/jvi Options and Configuration" node.
For some reason, a couple of options shown were missing for me,
so I couldn't try them yet, but the screenshots look promising.
If the vim bug has bitten you, make sure to read the extensive documentation
provided by Ernie Rael on his project homepage.
Open the file "nbvi-0.8.0x8/jvi-docs/index.html" in your webbrowser
and see all the features it has to offer.
After installing the jvi keybindings 0.8.0,
you'll soon come across one major disadvantage.
As of now there is no user-friendly way
to switch between NetBeans keybindings and the jvi keybindings.
The current pre-release still requires you
to deactivate the plugin completely to get back to the default.
In order to do that, go to the Module Manager in the Tools menu and
deselect the jvi module.
Release 0.8.0 also had a few bugs that threw errors when I tried
to search strings with the
/ command, or when I searched for regular expression
patterns using the
If you encounter similar bugs in everyday use, or notice missing features
that are a must-have — send feedback to Ernie.
As usual, have a look at the known bugs
contacting the author
a bug report.
Still it is very promising, keep up the good work!
PS: This article was written with jvi. :-)
- jVi's Homepage on SourceForge
- jvi 0.8.0 - known bugs and issues
- Antonio's Blog: NetBeans vi editor module!!
- Masaki Katakai's blog
- Viex -- another SourceForge project for vi integration (in progress)