Vim documentation: netbeans

main help file

*netbeans.txt*  For Vim version 6.3.  Last change: 2004 May 01

		  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Gordon Prieur

NetBeans ExternalEditor Integration Features		*netbeans*

1.  Introduction				|netbeans-intro|
2.  NetBeans Key Bindings			|netbeans-keybindings|
3.  Configuring Vim for NetBeans		|netbeans-configure|
4.  Downloading NetBeans			|netbeans-download|
5.  Preparing NetBeans for Vim			|netbeans-preparation|
6.  Obtaining the External Editor Module	|obtaining-exted|
7.  Setting up NetBeans to run with Vim		|netbeans-setup|
8.  Messages					|netbeans-messages|
9.  Running Vim from NetBeans			|netbeans-run|
10. NetBeans protocol				|netbeans-protocol|
11. Known problems				|netbeans-problems|

{Vi does not have any of these features}
{only available when compiled with the |+netbeans_intg| feature}


1. Introduction						*netbeans-intro*

NetBeans is an open source Integrated Development Environment developed
jointly by Sun Microsystems, Inc. and the developer community.
Initially just a Java IDE, NetBeans has had C, C++, and Fortran support added
in recent releases.

 For more information visit the main NetBeans web site
 or the NetBeans External Editor site at

Sun Microsystems, Inc. also ships NetBeans under the name Sun ONE Studio.
 Visit for more information regarding the Sun ONE Studio
product line.

Current releases of NetBeans provide full support for Java and limited support
for C, C++, and Fortran. Current releases of Sun ONE Studio provide full
support for Java, C, C++, and Fortran.

The interface to NetBeans is also supported by Agide, the A-A-P GUI IDE.
Agide is very different from NetBeans:
- Based on Python instead of Java, much smaller footprint and fast startup.
- Agide is a framework in which many different tools can work together.
 See the A-A-P website for information:


2. NetBeans Key Bindings				*netbeans-keybindings*

Vim understands a number of key bindings that execute NetBeans commands. These
are typically all the Function key combinations. To execute a NetBeans command,
the user must press the Pause key followed by a NetBeans key binding. For
example, in order to compile a Java file, the NetBeans key binding is "F9". So,
while in vim, press "Pause F9" to compile a java file. To toggle a breakpoint
at the current line, press "Pause Shift F8".

The Pause key is Function key 21.  If you don't have a working Pause key and
want to use F8 instead, use:

	:map <F8> <F21>

The External Editor module dynamically reads the NetBeans key bindings so vim
should always have the latest key bindings, even when NetBeans changes them.


3. Configuring Vim for NetBeans			*netbeans-configure*

For more help installing vim, please read |usr_90.txt| in the Vim User Manual.

On Unix

When running configure without arguments the NetBeans interface should be
included.  That is, if the configure check to find out if your system supports
the required features succeeds.

In case you do not want the NetBeans interface you can disable it by
uncommenting a line with "--disable-netbeans" in the Makefile.

Currently, only gvim is supported in this integration as NetBeans does not
have means to supply a terminal emulator for the vim command. Furthermore,
there is only GUI support for GTK, GNOME, and Motif.

If Motif support is required the user must supply XPM libraries. See
|workshop-xpm| for details on obtaining the latest version of XPM.

On MS-Windows

The Win32 support is now in beta stage.

To use XPM signs on Win32 (e.g. when using with NetBeans) you can compile
 XPM by yourself or use precompiled libraries from
 for MS Visual C++ or for MinGW.


4. Downloading NetBeans					*netbeans-download*

The NetBeans IDE is available for download from You can download
a released version, download sources, or use CVS to download the current
source tree. If you choose to download sources, follow directions from on building NetBeans.

Depending on the version of NetBeans you download, you may need to do further
work to get the required External Editor module. This is the module which lets
 NetBeans work with gvim or xemacs :-. See
for details on downloading this module if your NetBeans release does not have

For C, C++, and Fortran support you will also need the cpp module. See for information regarding this module.

You can also download Sun ONE Studio from Sun Microsystems, Inc for a 30 day
 free trial. See for further details.


5. Preparing NetBeans for Vim				*netbeans-preparation*

In order for NetBeans to work with vim, the NetBeans External Editor module
must be loaded and enabled. If you have a Sun ONE Studio Enterprise Edition
then this module should be loaded and enabled. If you have a NetBeans release
you may need to find another way of obtaining this open source module.

You can check if you have this module by opening the Tools->Options dialog
and drilling down to the "Modules" list (IDE Configuration->System->Modules).
If your Modules list has an entry for "External Editor" you must make sure
it is enabled (the "Enabled" property should have the value "True"). If your
Modules list has no External Editor see the next section on |obtaining-exted|.


6. Obtaining the External Editor Module			    *obtaining-exted*

There are 2 ways of obtaining the External Editor module. The easiest way
is to use the NetBeans Update Center to download and install the module.
Unfortunately, some versions do not have this module in their update
center. If you cannot download via the update center you will need to
download sources and build the module. I will try and get the module
available from the NetBeans Update Center so building will be unnecessary.
 Also check for other availability options.

To download the External Editor sources via CVS and build your own module,
 see and
Unfortunately, this is not a trivial procedure.


7. Setting up NetBeans to run with Vim			    *netbeans-setup*

Assuming you have loaded and enabled the NetBeans External Editor module
as described in |netbeans-preparation| all you need to do is verify that
the gvim command line is properly configured for your environment.

Open the Tools->Options dialog and open the Editing category. Select the
External Editor. The right hand pane should contain a Properties tab and
an Expert tab. In the Properties tab make sure the "Editor Type" is set
to "Vim". In the Expert tab make sure the "Vim Command" is correct.

You should be careful if you change the "Vim Command". There are command
line options there which must be there for the connection to be properly
set up. You can change the command name but thats about it. If your gvim
can be found by your $PATH then the VIM Command can start with "gvim". If
you don't want gvim searched from your $PATH then hard code in the full
Unix path name. At this point you should get a gvim for any source file
you open in NetBeans.

If some files come up in gvim and others (with different file suffixes) come
up in the default NetBeans editor you should verify the MIME type in the
Expert tab MIME Type property. NetBeans is MIME oriented and the External
Editor will only open MIME types specified in this property.


8. Messages						*netbeans-messages*

These messages are specific for NetBeans:

Region is guarded, cannot modify
		NetBeans defines guarded areas in the text, which you cannot

NetBeans dissallows writes of unmodified buffers
		NetBeans does not support writes of unmodified buffers that
		were opened from NetBeans.

Partial writes disallowed for NetBeans buffers
		NetBeans does not support partial writes for buffers that were
		opened from NetBeans.

NetBeans connection lost for this buffer
		NetBeans has become confused about the state of this file.
		Rather than risc data corruption, NetBeans has severed the
		connection for this file. Vim will take over responsibility
		for saving changes to this file and NetBeans will no longer
		know of these changes.


9. Running Vim from NetBeans				*netbeans-run*

NetBeans starts Vim with the |-nb| argument.  Three forms can be used, that
differ in the way the information for the connection is specified:

	-nb={fname}				from a file
	-nb:{hostname}:{addr}:{password}	directly
	-nb					from a file or environment

							*E660* *E668*
For security reasons, the best method is to write the information in a file
readable only by the user.  The name of the file can be passed with the
"-nb={fname}" argument or, when "-nb" is used without a parameter, the
environment variable "__NETBEANS_CONINFO".  The file must contain these three
lines, in any order:


Other lines are ignored.  The caller of Vim is responsible for deleting the
file afterwards.

{hostname} is the name of the machine where NetBeans is running.  When omitted
the environment variable "__NETBEANS_HOST" is used or the default "localhost".

{addr} is the port number for NetBeans.  When omitted the environment variable
"__NETBEANS_SOCKET" is used or the default 3219.

{password} is the password for connecting to NetBeans.  When omitted the
environment variable "__NETBEANS_VIM_PASSWORD" is used or "changeme".


10. NetBeans protocol					*netbeans-protocol*

The communication between NetBeans and Vim uses plain text messages.  This
protocol was first designed to work with the external editor module of
 NetBeans see Later it was extended to
 work with Agide A-A-P GUI IDE, see The extensions are
marked with "version 2.1".

Version 2.2 of the protocol has several minor changes which should only
affect NetBeans users (ie, not Agide users). However, a bug was fixed which
could cause confusion. The netbeans_saved() function sent a "save" protocol
command. In protocol version 2.1 and earlier this was incorrectly interpreted
as a notification that a write had taken place. In reality, it told NetBeans
to save the file so multiple writes were being done. This caused various
problems and has been fixed in 2.2. To decrease the likelyhood of this
confusion happening again, netbeans_saved() has been renamed to

The messages are currently sent over a socket.  Since the messages are in
plain UTF-8 text this protocol could also be used with any other communication

10.1 Kinds of messages		|nb-messages|
10.2 Terms			|nb-terms|
10.3 Commands			|nb-commands|
10.4 Functions and Replies	|nb-functions|
10.5 Events			|nb-events|
10.6 Special messages		|nb-special|

*E627* *E628* *E629* *E630* *E631* *E632* *E633* *E634* *E635* *E636*

*E637* *E638* *E639* *E640* *E641* *E642* *E643* *E644* *E645* *E646*

*E647* *E648* *E649* *E650* *E651* *E652* *E653* *E654*
These errors occur when a message violates the protocol.

10.1 Kinds of messages					*nb-messages*

There are four kinds of messages:

kind		direction	comment 
Command		IDE -> editor	no reply necessary
Function	IDE -> editor	editor must send back a reply
Reply		editor -> IDE	only in response to a Function
Event		editor -> IDE	no reply necessary

The messages are sent as a single line with a terminating newline character.
Arguments are separated by a single space.  The first item of the message
depends on the kind of message:

kind		first item		example 
Command		bufID:name!seqno	11:showBalloon!123 "text"
Function	bufID:name/seqno	11:getLength/123
Reply		seqno			123 5000
Event		bufID:name=123		11:keyCommand=123 "S-F2"

10.2 Terms						*nb-terms*

bufID		Buffer number.  A message may be either for a specific buffer
		or generic.  Generic messages use a bufID of zero.  NOTE: this
		buffer ID is assigned by the IDE, it is not Vim's buffer
		number.  The bufID must be a sequentially rising number,
		starting at one.

seqno		The IDE uses a sequence number for Commands and Functions.  A
		Reply must use the sequence number of the Function that it is
		associated with.  A zero sequence number can be used for
		Events (the seqno of the last received Command or Function can
		also be used).

string		Argument in double quotes.  Text is in UTF-8 encoding.  This
		means ASCII is passed as-is.  Special characters are
		represented with a backslash:
			\"	double quote
			\n	newline
			\r	carriage-return
			\t	tab (optional, also works literally)
			\\	backslash
		NUL bytes are not allowed!

boolean		Argument with two possible values:
			T	true
			F	false

number		Argument with a decimal number.

optnum		Argument with either a decimal number or "none" (without the

offset		A number argument that indicates a byte position in a buffer.
		The first byte has offset zero.  Line breaks are counted for
		how they appear in the file (CR/LF counts for two bytes).
		Note that a multi-byte character is counted for the number of
		bytes it takes.

lnum/col	Argument with a line number and column number position.  The
		line number starts with one, the column is the byte position,
		starting with zero.  Note that a multi-byte character counts
		for several columns.

pathname	String argument: file name with full path.

10.3 Commands						*nb-commands*

actionMenuItem	Not implemented.

		Not implemented.

addAnno serNum typeNum off len
		Place an annotation in this buffer.
		   serNum	number	serial number of this placed
					annotation, used to be able to remove
		   typeNum	number	sequence number of the annotation
					defined with defineAnnoType for this
		   off		number	offset where annotation is to be placed
		   len		number	not used
		In version 2.1 "lnum/col" can be used instead of "off".

balloonResult text
		Not implemented.

close		Close the buffer.  This leaves us without current buffer, very
		dangerous to use!

create		Creates a buffer without a name.  Replaces the current buffer
		(it's hidden when it was changed).
		NetBeans uses this as the first command for a file that is
		being opened.  The sequence of commands could be:
			setCaretListener	(ignored)
			setModified		(no effect)
			setContentType		(ignored)

defineAnnoType typeNum typeName tooltip glyphFile fg bg
		Define a type of annotation for this buffer.
		   typeNum	number	sequence number (not really used)
		   typeName	string	name that identifies this annotation
		   tooltip	string	not used
		   glyphFile	string	name of icon file
		   fg		optnum	foreground color for line highlighting
		   bg		optnum	background color for line highlighting
		Vim will define a sign for the annotation.
		When both "fg" and "bg" are "none" no line highlighting is
		used (new in version 2.1).
		When "glyphFile" is empty, no text sign is used (new in
		version 2.1).
		When "glyphFile" is one or two characters long, a text sign is
		defined (new in version 2.1).
		Note: the annotations will be defined in sequence, and the
		sequence number is later used with addAnno.

editFile pathname
		Set the name for the buffer and edit the file "pathname", a
		string argument.
		Normal way for the IDE to tell the editor to edit a file.  If
		the IDE is going to pass the file text to the editor use these
		commands instead:
		New in version 2.1.

		Not implemented.

endAtomic	End an atomic operation.  The changes between "startAtomic"
		and "endAtomic" can be undone as one operation.  But it's not
		implemented yet.  Redraw when necessary.

guard off len
		Mark an area in the buffer as guarded.  This means it cannot
		be edited.  "off" and "len" are numbers and specify the text
		to be guarded.

initDone	Mark the buffer as ready for use.  Implicitly makes the buffer
		the current buffer.  Fires the BufReadPost autocommand event.

moveAnnoToFront serNum
		Not implemented.

netbeansBuffer isNetbeansBuffer
		If "isNetbeansBuffer" is "T" then this buffer is ``owned'' by
		New in version 2.2.

putBufferNumber pathname
		Associate a buffer number with the Vim buffer by the name
		"pathname", a string argument.  To be used when the editor
		reported editing another file to the IDE and the IDE needs to
		tell the editor what buffer number it will use for this file.
		Also marks the buffer as initialized.
		New in version 2.1.

raise		Bring the editor to the foreground.
		New in version 2.1.

removeAnno serNum
		Remove a previously place annotation for this buffer.
		"serNum" is the same number used in addAnno.

save		Save the buffer when it was modified.  The other side of the
		interface is expected to write the buffer and invoke
		"setModified" to reset the "changed" flag of the buffer.
		The writing is skipped when one of these conditions is true:
		- 'write' is not set
		- the buffer is read-only
		- the buffer does not have a file name
		- 'buftype' disallows writing
		New in version 2.2.

setAsUser	Not implemented.

setBufferNumber pathname
		Associate a buffer number with Vim buffer by the name
		"pathname".  To be used when the editor reported editing
		another file to the IDE and the IDE needs to tell the editor
		what buffer number it will use for this file.
		Has the side effect of making the buffer the current buffer.
		See "putBufferNumber" for a more useful command.

		Not implemented.

setDot off	Make the buffer the current buffer and set the cursor at the
		specified position.  If there are folds they are opened to
		make the cursor line visible.
		In version 2.1 "lnum/col" can be used instead of "off".

setExitDelay seconds
		Set the delay for exiting to "seconds", a number.
		This delay is used to give the IDE a chance to handle things
		before really exiting.  The default delay is two seconds.
		New in version 2.1.

setFullName pathname
		Set the file name to be used for a buffer to "pathname", a
		string argument.
		Used when the IDE wants to edit a file under control of the
		IDE.  This makes the buffer the current buffer, but does not
		read the file.  "insert" commands will be used next to set the

setLocAndSize	Not implemented.

setMark		Not implemented.

setModified modified
		When the boolean argument "modified" is "T" mark the buffer as
		modified, when it is "F" mark it as unmodified.

setReadOnly	Not implemented.

setStyle	Not implemented.

setTitle name
		Set the title for the buffer to "name", a string argument.
		The title is only used for NetBeans functions, not by Vim.

setVisible visible
		When the boolean argument "visible" is "T", goto the buffer.
		The "F" argument does nothing.

showBalloon text
		Show a balloon (popup window) at the mouse pointer position,
		containing "text", a string argument.  The balloon should
		disappear when the mouse is moved more than a few pixels.
		New in version 2.1.

specialKeys	Not implemented.

startAtomic	Begin an atomic operation.  The screen will not be updated
		until "endAtomic" is given.

		Not implemented.

		Mark the buffer to report changes to the IDE with the
		"insert" and "remove" events.  The default is to report

		Not implemented.

		Mark the buffer to stop reporting changes to the IDE.
		Opposite of startDocumentListen.

unguard off len
		Opposite of "guard", remove guarding for a text area.

version		Not implemented.

10.4 Functions and Replies				*nb-functions*

getDot		Not implemented.

getCursor	Return the current buffer and cursor position.
		The reply is:
			seqno bufID lnum col off
		seqno = sequence number of the function
		bufID = buffer ID of the current buffer (if this is unknown -1
			is used)
		lnum  = line number of the cursor (first line is one)
		col   = column number of the cursor (in bytes, zero based)
		off   = offset of the cursor in the buffer (in bytes)
		New in version 2.1.

getLength	Return the length of the buffer in bytes.
		Reply example for a buffer with 5000 bytes:
			123 5000
		TODO: explain use of partial line.

getMark		Not implemented.

getModified	When a buffer is specified: Return zero if the buffer does not
		have changes, one if it does have changes.
		When no buffer is specified (buffer number zero): Return the
		number of buffers with changes.  When the result is zero it's
		safe to tell Vim to exit.
		New in version 2.1.

getText		Return the contents of the buffer as a string.
		Reply example for a buffer with two lines
			123 "first line\nsecond line\n"
		NOTE: docs indicate an offset and length argument, but this is
		not implemented.

insert off text
		Insert "text" before position "off".  "text" is a string
		argument, "off" a number.
		Possible replies:
			123		no problem
			123 !message	failed
		Note that the message in the reply is not quoted.

remove off length
		Delete "length" bytes of text at position "off".  Both
		arguments are numbers.
		Possible replies:
			123		no problem
			123 !message	failed
		Note that the message in the reply is not quoted.

saveAndExit	Perform the equivalent of closing Vim: ":confirm qall".
		If there are no changed files or the user does not cancel the
		operation Vim exits and no result is sent back.  The IDE can
		consider closing the connection as a successful result.
		If the user cancels the operation the number of modified
		buffers that remains is returned and Vim does not exit.
		New in version 2.1.

10.5 Events						*nb-events*

balloonEval off len type
		The mouse pointer rests on text for a short while.  When "len"
		is zero, there is no selection and the pointer is at position
		"off".  When "len" is non-zero the text from position "off" to
		"off" + "len" is selected.
		Only sent after "enableBalloonEval" was used for this buffer.
		"type" is not yet defined.
		Not implemented yet.

balloonText text
		Used when 'ballooneval' is set and the mouse pointer rests on
		some text for a moment.  "text" is a string, the text under
		the mouse pointer.
		New in version 2.1.

buttonRelease button lnum col
		Report which button was pressed and the location of the cursor
		at the time of the release.  Only for buffers that are owned
		by NetBeans.  This event is not sent if the button was
		released while the mouse was in the status line or in a
		separator line. If col is less than 1 the button release was
		in the sign area.
		New in version 2.2.

fileClosed	Not implemented.

fileModified	Not implemented.

fileOpened pathname open modified
		A file was opened by the user.
		   pathname	string	  name of the file
		   open		boolean   always "T"
		   modified	boolean   always "F"

geometry cols rows x y
		Report the size and position of the editor window.
		   cols		number	  number of text columns
		   rows		number	  number of text rows
		   x		number	  pixel position on screen
		   y		number	  pixel position on screen
		Only works for Motif.

insert off text
		Text "text" has been inserted in Vim at position "off".
		Only fired when enabled, see "startDocumentListen".

invokeAction	Not implemented.

keyCommand keyName
		Reports a special key being pressed with name "keyName", which
		is a string.
		Supported key names:
			F1		function key 1
			F2		function key 2
			F12		function key 12

			'' ''		space (without the quotes)
			!		exclamation mark
			...		any other ASCII printable character
			~		tilde

			X		any unrecognized key

		The key may be prepended by "C", "S" and/or "M" for Control,
		Shift and Meta (Alt) modifiers.  If there is a modifier a dash
		is used to separate it from the key name.  For example:
		ASCII characters are new in version 2.1.

keyAtPos keyName lnum/col
		Like "keyCommand" and also report the line number and column
		of the cursor.
		New in version 2.1.

killed		A file was closed by the user.  Only for files that have been
		assigned a number by the IDE.

newDotAndMark off off
		Reports the position of the cursor being at "off" bytes into
		the buffer.  Only sent just before a "keyCommand" event.

quit		Not implemented.

remove off len
		Text was deleted in Vim at position "off" with byte length
		Only fired when enabled, see "startDocumentListen".

revert		Not implemented.

save		The buffer has been saved and is now unmodified.
		Only fired when enabled, see "startDocumentListen".

startupDone	The editor has finished its startup work and is ready for
		editing files.
		New in version 2.1.

unmodified	The buffer is now unmodified.
		Only fired when enabled, see "startDocumentListen".

version vers	Report the version of the interface implementation.  Vim
		reports "2.2" (including the quotes).

10.6 Special messages					*nb-special*

These messages do not follow the style of the messages above.  They are
terminated by a newline character.

ACCEPT		Not used.

AUTH password	editor -> IDE: First message that the editor sends to the IDE.
		Must contain the password for the socket server, as specified
		with the |-nb| argument.  No quotes are used!

DISCONNECT	IDE -> editor: break the connection.  The editor will exit.
		The IDE must only send this message when there are no unsaved

DETACH		IDE -> editor: break the connection without exiting the
		editor.  Used when the IDE exits without bringing down the
		editor as well.
		New in version 2.1.

REJECT		Not used.


11. Known problems					*netbeans-problems*

NUL bytes are not possible.  For editor -> IDE they will appear as NL
characters.  For IDE -> editor they cannot be inserted.

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