Wednesday 14 October 2009

Agricultural Management on the NetBeans Platform | NetBeans Zone

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Ram Vijapurapu (@rvijapurapu) lives in Auckland, New Zealand, and is co-founder & technical director of FieldLinx. The majority of his work relates to software design & development.
Below follows an interview about FieldLinx and about its usage of the NetBeans Platform.
Hi Ram. Please tell us a bit about FieldLinx?

Founded in 2004, FieldLinx is a creative software development company with specialist focus on building end-to-end mobile & web solutions. Our solutions cater to diverse industries.
Over the years, we have developed many clever mobile & web software solutions which brought about huge cost savings and productivity gains for companies who use our solutions. We also provide consultancy services for organisations who intend to bring in productivity within their organisation.
What's the FarmLinx Software Suite about?

FarmLinx is a software solution which helps Agri-Consultants to better manage their data-collection and collate the collected information for further analysis. The mobile version, which runs on a PDA (Palm & WinMo), works as data-collection mechanism.

The desktop version runs the analysis and data management:

Finally, there is a facility to output the farm report as an OpenOffice document.

Here's the workflow:


FarmLinx was initially targeted at Agri-Consultants, while these days we are able to provide solutions directly to the farmer for better management of their farms, via
Why does the desktop version run on the NetBeans Platform?
The version 1 of FarmLinx was developed using plain Swing. As and when we needed to add new features, we ended up with a non-modular monolithic application which was becoming very hard to manage. Hence we set out to build a modular application.

The NetBeans Platform provided us with the opportunity to build a modular application from day one & to integrate it with our existing application, without needing a major re-write.

Also, as our business was progressing further we wanted to integrate with other third-party solutions. The NetBeans module system came in very handy because we didn't need to build our own plugin framework since it comes out of the box with the NetBeans Platform. That simplified our work significantly. The NetBeans Platform is fairly standardised, hence it took us very little effort to convey the required information to third parties. 
How did you choose to use the NetBeans Platform?

We had two choices: Eclipse RCP and NetBeans Platform. We chose the NetBeans Platform as we were able to port components of our existing application almost immediately without a major re-write.

Along with that, the NetBeans Platform has a pretty straightforward set of APIs and it was very easy to port to it.

Generally, we didn't want to take up the route of SWT as we programmers were more experienced with Swing.

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