Linking API and Sources to your IDE’s JARs

For productive programming, I think it is absolutely crucial to also have both the API documentation and the source code of the according libraries available and integrated in the IDE in order to gain maximum productivity. Integrating the API and sources is pretty easy in NetBeans (as well as in other IDEs):

Right click the Project > Properties > Libraries > select the JAR for which you want to link source and API and hit the edit button on the right.
Now you can select a folder, Zip file or Jar file for the API and sources, hit OK and you’re done.

Whenever you’re using a class from this library, you now can step into this class (by Ctrl-Clicking for example) or quickly jump to the API by pressing ALT+F1 when the curser is at the corresponding class/method.

If you are annoyed by swithing between IDE and Browser or if you just forget the Alt+F1 key combo that opens the browser with the correct API page, just enable the NetBeans inline Java-Doc viewer by selecting:
Window > Other > JavaDoc
This brings up a new panel which shows the JavaDoc comment of the class/method which is curently selected by the cursor. And you don’t even need to press any key for updating the view as it is updated automatically.

If it doesn’t work, I usually experience the following two errors:

  1. JavaDoc doesn’t work: If I perform Alt+F1, the browser doesn’t open and the status bar on the bottom of the NetBeans window shoes a “Cannot perform Show Javadoc here”. Well – check the Path then. It should end in a directory that also contains the index.html, package-list, allclasses-frame.html etc.
  2. The source is not displayed – even though the path to the Jar/Zip is correct! In that case, The Zip/Jar often contains all the source code in src/mypackage/foo.java. NB expects only packagis in the Zip, so that the content list should look like: maypackage/foo.java. So simply build another src.zip with the contents of “src/” (in this case) and you’re done.

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