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netbeans.txt  For Vim version 9.0.  Last change: 2022 Apr 03

                  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Gordon Prieur et al.

                                        netbeans NetBeans netbeans-support

Vim NetBeans Protocol: a socket interface for Vim integration into an IDE.

1.  Introduction                                netbeans-intro
2.  Integration features                        netbeans-integration
3.  Configuring Vim for NetBeans                netbeans-configure
4.  Error Messages                              netbeans-messages
5.  Running Vim in NetBeans mode                netbeans-run
6.  NetBeans protocol                           netbeans-protocol
7.  NetBeans commands                           netbeans-commands
8.  Known problems                              netbeans-problems
9.  Debugging NetBeans protocol                 netbeans-debugging
10. NetBeans External Editor
    10.1. Downloading NetBeans                  netbeans-download
    10.2. NetBeans Key Bindings                 netbeans-keybindings
    10.3. Preparing NetBeans for Vim            netbeans-preparation
    10.4. Obtaining the External Editor Module  obtaining-exted
    10.5. Setting up NetBeans to run with Vim   netbeans-setup

{only available when compiled with the +netbeans_intg feature}

1. Introduction                                         netbeans-intro

The NetBeans interface was initially developed to integrate Vim into the
NetBeans Java IDE, using the external editor plugin.  This NetBeans plugin no
longer exists for recent versions of NetBeans but the protocol was developed
in such a way that any IDE can use it to integrate Vim.

The NetBeans protocol of Vim is a text based communication protocol, over a
classical TCP socket. There is no dependency on Java or NetBeans. Any language
or environment providing a socket interface can control Vim using this
protocol. There are existing implementations in C, C++, Python and Java. The
name NetBeans is kept today for historical reasons.

Active project using the NetBeans protocol of Vim:
- Eclim,

VimIntegration, description of various projects doing Vim Integration:

Projects using the NetBeans protocol of Vim are or were:
- Agide, an IDE for the AAP project, written in Python (now replaced by
- Clewn, a gdb integration into Vim, written in C:
- Pyclewn, a gdb integration into Vim, written in Python:
- VimWrapper, library to easy Vim integration into IDE:
Outdated projects (links don't work):
- VimPlugin, integration of Vim inside Eclipse:
- PIDA, IDE written in Python integrating Vim:

Check the specific project pages to see how to use Vim with these projects.

An alternative is to use a channel, see channel.

In the rest of this help page, we will use the term "Vim Controller" to
describe the program controlling Vim through the NetBeans socket interface.

About the NetBeans IDE

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
The External Editor is now, unfortunately, declared obsolete.  See

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.

2. Integration features                                 netbeans-integration

The NetBeans socket interface of Vim allows to get information from Vim or to
ask Vim to perform specific actions:
- get information about buffer: buffer name, cursor position, buffer content,
- be notified when buffers are open or closed
- be notified of how the buffer content is modified
- load and save files
- modify the buffer content
- installing special key bindings
- raise the window, control the window geometry

For sending key strokes to Vim or for evaluating functions in Vim, you must
use the clientserver interface.

3. Configuring Vim for NetBeans                 netbeans-configure

For more help about installing Vim, please read usr_90.txt in the Vim User

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 the NetBeans interface is supported by Vim running in a terminal and
by gvim when it is run with one of the following GUIs: GTK, GNOME, Windows
and Motif.

If Motif support is required the user must supply XPM libraries.
The XPM library is required to show images within Vim with Motif.
Without it the toolbar and signs will be disabled.

The XPM library is provided by Arnaud Le Hors of the French National Institute
for Research in Computer Science and Control.  It can be downloaded from  The current release, as of this
writing, is xpm-3.4k-solaris.tgz, which is a gzip'ed tar file.  If you create
the directory /usr/local/xpm and untar the file there you can use the
uncommented lines in the Makefile without changing them.  If you use another
xpm directory you will need to change the XPM_DIR in src/Makefile.

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).

Enable debugging:

To enable debugging of Vim and of the NetBeans protocol, the "NBDEBUG" macro
needs to be defined.  Search in the Makefile of the platform you are using for
"NBDEBUG" to see what line needs to be uncommented.  This effectively adds
"-DNBDEBUG" to the compile command.  Also see netbeans-debugging

4. Error Messages                                       netbeans-messages

These error messages are specific to NetBeans socket protocol:

Region is guarded, cannot modify
                The Vim Controller has defined guarded areas in the text,
                which you cannot change.  Also sets the current buffer, if

The defineAnnoType highlighting color name is too long
                The maximum length of the "fg" or "bg" color argument in the
                defineAnnoType command is 32 characters.
                New in version 2.5.

Writes of unmodified buffers forbidden
                Writes of unmodified buffers that were opened from the
                Vim Controller are not possible.

Partial writes disallowed
                Partial writes for buffers that were opened from the
                Vim Controller are not allowed.

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

Read-only file
                Vim normally allows changes to a read-only file and only
                enforces the read-only rule if you try to write the file.
                However, NetBeans does not let you make changes to a file
                which is read-only and becomes confused if Vim does this.
                So Vim does not allow modifications to files when run
                in NetBeans mode.

5. Running Vim in NetBeans mode                         netbeans-run

There are two different ways to run Vim in NetBeans mode:

        + an IDE may start Vim with the -nb command line argument
        + NetBeans can be started from within Vim with the :nbstart command

Vim uses a 3 second timeout on trying to make the connection.

Three forms can be used to setup the NetBeans connection parameters.
When started from the command line, the -nb command line argument may be:

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

When started from within Vim, the :nbstart optional argument may be:

        ={fname}                                from a file
        :{hostname}:{addr}:{password}           directly
        <MISSING ARGUMENT>                      from a file or environment

                                                        E660 E668
When NetBeans is started from the command line, 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 Vim Controller is responsible for deleting the
file afterwards.

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

{addr} is the port number for the NetBeans interface.  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".

Vim will initiate a socket connection (client side) to the specified host and
port upon startup. The password will be sent with the AUTH event when the
connection has been established.

6. NetBeans protocol                                    netbeans-protocol

The communication between the Vim Controller and Vim uses plain text
messages.  This protocol was first designed to work with the external editor
module of NetBeans.  Later it was extended to work with Agide (A-A-P GUI IDE,
see and then with other IDE. 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 likelihood of this
confusion happening again, netbeans_saved() has been renamed to

We are now at version 2.5.  For the differences between 2.4 and 2.5 search for
"2.5" below.

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

Netbeans messages are processed when Vim is idle, waiting for user input.
When Vim is run in non-interactive mode, for example when running an automated
test case that sources a Vim script, the idle loop may not be called often
enough. In that case, insert :sleep commands in the Vim script. The :sleep
command does invoke Netbeans messages processing.

6.1 Kinds of messages           nb-messages
6.2 Terms                       nb-terms
6.3 Commands                    nb-commands
6.4 Functions and Replies       nb-functions
6.5 Events                      nb-events
6.6 Special messages            nb-special
6.7 Protocol errors             nb-protocol_errors

6.1 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=seqno        11:keyCommand=123 "S-F2"

6.2 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.  When the 'switchbuf' option is set to
                "usetab" and the "bufID" buffer is not found in the current
                tab page, the netbeans commands and functions that set this
                buffer as the current buffer will jump to the first open
                window that contains this buffer in other tab pages instead of
                replacing the buffer in the current window.

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.

color           Argument with either a decimal number, "none" (without the
                quotes) or the name of a color (without the quotes) defined
                both in the color list in highlight-ctermfg and in the color
                list in gui-colors.
                New in version 2.5.

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 multibyte 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 multibyte character counts
                for several columns.

pathname        String argument: file name with full path.

6.3 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).
                The Vim Controller should use 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           color   foreground color for line highlighting
                   bg           color   background color for line highlighting
                Vim will define a sign for the annotation.
                When color is a number, this is the "#rrggbb" Red, Green and
                Blue values of the color (see gui-colors) and the
                highlighting is only defined for gVim.
                When color is a name, this color is defined both for Vim
                running in a color terminal and for gVim.
                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.

                You must set a bufId different of 0 with this command to
                assign a bufId to the buffer. It will trigger an event
                fileOpened with a bufId of 0 but the buffer has been assigned.

                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.

insertDone starteol readonly
                Sent by Vim Controller to tell Vim an initial file insert is
                done.  This triggers a read message being printed.  If
                "starteol" is "F" then the last line doesn't have a EOL. If
                "readonly" is "T" then the file is marked as readonly. Prior
                to version 2.3, no read messages were displayed after opening
                a file.  New in version 2.3.

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.
                Only when Vim is run with a GUI.
                New in version 2.1.

removeAnno serNum
                Remove a previously placed 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.

                Sent by Vim Controller to tell Vim a save is done.  This
                triggers a save message being printed.  Prior to version 2.3,
                no save messages were displayed after a save.
                New in version 2.3.

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 the buffer is open in another window
                than make that window the current window.
                If there are folds they are opened to make the cursor line
                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.
                Obsolete in version 2.3.

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.

setModtime time
                Update a buffers modification time after the file has been
                saved directly by the Vim Controller.
                New in version 2.3.

setReadOnly readonly
                When the boolean argument "readonly" is "T" for True, mark the
                buffer as readonly, when it is "F" for False, mark it as not
                readonly.  Implemented in version 2.3.

setStyle        Not implemented.

setTitle name
                Set the title for the buffer to "name", a string argument.
                The title is only used for the Vim Controller 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.
                Only when Vim is run with a GUI.
                New in version 2.1.

                Map a set of keys (mostly function keys) to be passed back
                to the Vim Controller for processing.  This lets regular IDE
                hotkeys be used from Vim.
                Implemented in version 2.3.

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.
                NOTE: if "netbeansBuffer" was used to mark this buffer as a
                NetBeans buffer, then the buffer is deleted in Vim.  This is
                for compatibility with Sun Studio 10.

unguard off len
                Opposite of "guard", remove guarding for a text area.
                Also sets the current buffer, if necessary.

version         Not implemented.

6.4 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.

getAnno serNum
                Return the line number of the annotation in the buffer.
                        serNum          serial number of this placed annotation
                The reply is:
                        123 lnum        line number of the annotation
                        123 0           invalid annotation serial number
                New in version 2.4.

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.
                "text" should have a "\n" (newline) at the end of each line.
                Or "\r\n" when 'fileformat' is "dos".  When using "insert" in
                an empty buffer Vim will set 'fileformat' accordingly.
                When "off" points to the start of a line the text is inserted
                above this line.  Thus when "off" is zero lines are inserted
                before the first line.
                When "off" points after the start of a line, possibly on the
                NUL at the end of a line, the first line of text is appended
                to this line.  Further lines come below it.
                Possible replies:
                        123             no problem
                        123 !message    failed
                Note that the message in the reply is not quoted.
                Also sets the current buffer, if necessary.
                Does not move the cursor to the changed text.
                Resets undo information.

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.
                Also sets the current buffer, if necessary.

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.

6.5 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.
                Only when Vim is run with a GUI.
                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 the Vim Controller.  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.

                Tell the Vim Controller that Vim is exiting and not to try and
                read or write more commands.
                New in version 2.3.

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 deleted or wiped out by the user and the buffer
                annotations have been removed.  The bufID number for this
                buffer has become invalid.  Only for files that have been
                assigned a bufID 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 "2.4" (including the quotes).

6.6 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.

6.7 Protocol errors                                     nb-protocol_errors

These errors occur when a message violates the protocol:
E627 E628 E629 E632 E633 E634 E635 E636
E637 E638 E639 E640 E641 E642 E643 E644 E645 E646
E647 E648 E649 E650 E651 E652

7. NetBeans commands                                    netbeans-commands

                                                        :nbstart E511 E838
:nbs[tart] {connection} Start a new Netbeans session with {connection} as the
                        socket connection parameters.  The format of
                        {connection} is described in netbeans-parameters.
                        At any time, one may check if the netbeans socket is
                        connected by running the command:
                        ':echo has("netbeans_enabled")'

:nbc[lose]              Close the current NetBeans session. Remove all placed

:nb[key] {key}          Pass the {key} to the Vim Controller for processing.
                        When a hot-key has been installed with the specialKeys
                        command, this command can be used to generate a hotkey
                        message to the Vim Controller.
                        This command can also be used to pass any text to the
                        Vim  Controller. It is used by Pyclewn, for example,
                        to build the complete set of gdb commands as Vim user
                        The events newDotAndMark, keyCommand and keyAtPos are
                        generated (in this order).

8. 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.

A NetBeans session may be initiated with Vim running in a terminal, and
continued later in a GUI environment after running the :gui command. In this
case, the highlighting defined for the NetBeans annotations may be cleared
when the ":gui" command sources .gvimrc and this file loads a colorscheme
that runs the command ":highlight clear".
New in version 2.5.

9. Debugging NetBeans protocol                          netbeans-debugging

To debug the Vim protocol, you must first compile Vim with debugging support
and NetBeans debugging support.  See netbeans-configure for instructions
about Vim compiling and how to enable debug support.

When running Vim, set the following environment variables:

    export SPRO_GVIM_DEBUG=netbeans.log
    export SPRO_GVIM_DLEVEL=0xffffffff

Vim will then log all the incoming and outgoing messages of the NetBeans
protocol to the file netbeans.log .

The content of netbeans.log after a session looks like this:
Tue May 20 17:19:27 2008
EVT: 0:startupDone=0
CMD 1: (1) create
CMD 2: (1) setTitle "testfile1.txt"
CMD 3: (1) setFullName "testfile1.txt"
EVT(suppressed): 1:remove=3 0 -1
EVT: 1:fileOpened=0 "d:\\work\\vimWrapper\\vimWrapper2\\pyvimwrapper\\tests\\testfile1.txt" T F
CMD 4: (1) initDone
FUN 5: (0) getCursor
REP 5: 1 1 0 0
CMD 6: (2) create
CMD 7: (2) setTitle "testfile2.txt"
CMD 8: (2) setFullName "testfile2.txt"
EVT(suppressed): 2:remove=8 0 -1
EVT: 2:fileOpened=0 "d:\\work\\vimWrapper\\vimWrapper2\\pyvimwrapper\\tests\\testfile2.txt" T F
CMD 9: (2) initDone

10. NetBeans External Editor

NOTE: This information is obsolete!  Only relevant if you are using an old
version of NetBeans.

10.1. 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.

10.2. 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.

10.3. 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.

10.4. 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.

10.5. 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 that's 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.