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Using netbeans 4 and vim for java

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Tip 830 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created 2004 · complexity basic · author Ivan F. Villanueva B. · version 6.0

This tip explains how to configure Vim to build Java sources and to execute classes without having to start Netbeans, but everything done in the same way Netbeans would do it. Netbeans can then be started any time to do things that Vim cannot, like debugging in a GUI or refactoring.

This has been tested in Linux.

It is assumed that your Java source code is in the directory "~/data/java/src" and that your classes are in different packages below this directory. For example the package com.your_domain.util is in the directory "~/data/java/src/com/your_domain/util"

Step 1: Install Ant

Step 2: Install Netbeans and create a new project with existing sources. At this point you can choose within Netbeans where all project files will be saved. Let say "~/data/java/netbeans" and the project name is "my_domain". The source code directory should be the top directory, here: "~/data/java/src". Netbeans will add packages in the project for all subdirectories, which allows to move classes between packages with the mouse, and Netbeans will refactor your whole source files for you.

Step 3: Compile your project with Netbeans. After that you can close Netbeans.

Step 4: Add the following two lines in .vimrc or in ~/.vim/ftplugin/java_netbeans.vim or:

nmap <F6> :! ant -buildfile ~/data/java/netbeans/my_domain/build.xml compile<CR>
nmap <F7> :cd ~/data/java/src<CR>:! ant -buildfile ~/data/java/netbeans/my_domain/build.xml -Drun.class=%:.:r -Djavac.includes=~/data/java/netbeans/my_domain/build/classes/ run-single<CR>:cd %:p:h<CR>

That's it! Now you can compile changed files pressing <F6> or execute the class you are editing with <F7> in Vim. And you can start anytime Netbeans for debugging, refactoring, etc.


Modern-day Netbeans (currently at version 7.3 in 2013) has an excellent vim plugin: just search for "jVi for Netbeans", and download the plugin either from sourceforge or from the netbeans plugin portal.

Instead of mapping F6 to a direct ant call, I would suggest setting ant as your makeprg and set the errorformat so that you can utilize the quickfix window to easily jump to compilation errors.

To use quickfix (for compiling and jumping automatically to errors), one can set:

set efm=%A\ %#[javac]\ %f:%l:\ %m,%-Z\ %#[javac]\ %p^,%-C%.%#
set makeprg=ant\ -quiet\ -buildfile\ ~/data/java/netbeans/my_domain/build.xml\ compile
nmap <F6> :w<CR>:make<CR>

Note: The above code works pretty well, but if there are no errors, ":clist" returns a few ones, what means that "set efm=..." isn't perfect.

You shouldn't need to explicitly set the error format. Vim has a default built in for ant that will read it correctly. So as long as you set your makeprg var correctly you should be able to use quickfix with it. For instance to:

set makeprg=ant\ -emacs\ -find\ build.xml\

That one will just look upwards from the current directory until it finds a file called build.xml and use that as the build file. You could also do a hardcoded path if you like, I just use many different build files so this helps. You also don't need the -emacs if you set the output format in the build script to it.

To add the compilation only of the current file:

nmap <F6> :w<CR>:cd ~data/java/src<CR>:let &makeprg = "ant -quiet -buildfile ~data/java/netbeans/my_domain/build.xml -Djavac.includes=" . expand("%:.") . " compile-single"<CR>:cd %:p:h<CR>:make<CR>

To clean all the classes:

nmap <S-F7> :w<CR>:!ant -e -buildfile /home/ivan/data/java/netbeans/artificialidea/build.xml clean<CR>

To compile the whole project:

nmap <S-F6> :set makeprg=ant\ -quiet\ -buildfile\ /home/ivan/data/java/netbeans/artificialidea/build.xml\ compile<CR>:w<CR>:make<CR>

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