NetBeans Refactoring – Part 1

This week I decided to give you, my dear readers, a little rest from my blabbering and go technical a bit. I am going to talk about a very powerful and a personal favorite NetBeans feature: Refactoring.

If you do not know NetBeans, it is a free, cross-platform, open-source Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for software developers and a product of Sun Microsystems. An IDE is a software application that provides extensive facilities to programmers for software development, such as a source code editor, a compiler, an interpreter, build automation tools, and a debugger. For more information about NetBeans’ features, visit the official website.

Refactoring is about changing your source code easily. Imagine moving a class between packages and having to edit the package statements manually at the top of each file, or wanting delete a variable in the code and not knowing if it is referenced somewhere else in your application. Performing these types of operations manually can be time consuming and prone to error. However, with the advanced refactoring capability available in NetBeans, you can do such changes very easily. NetBeans provides many refactoring options on its Refactor menu. I am going illustrate half of them today and the other half in a following post.

EDIT: Part 2 is now available. Click here to read it.

For this post I have created two classes, ImportingClass and MoveClass. View them here and here.

There are some images that are not very clear because of page size limitations. You can click on any image to see it in full size.


Rename refactoring allows you to change not only the name of the class but also any constructors, internal usages, and references to the renamed class by other classes. You can also rename the package, which will automatically rename all instances of the package name in your code, including comments. Here, I am going to change the name of the variable value to AddedValue in class ImportingClass:

Automatically, the variable name is also changed in class MoveClass:


Moving a class from one package to another may seem like an easy task; you just have to copy and paste the contents of the source file into the new directory and then edit the package statement at the top of the file then you are good to go. However, if other classes import or reference that class, then the developer must also search through and modify those files. Here is how you can move MoveClass from the refactoringpackage2 package to refactoringpackage1:


Copy refactoring allows you to copy the contents of a class to another package, automatically changing the package statement at the top of the source file.

Safe Delete:

Sometimes when you are reviewing a previously written code, you decide to remove a class member variable that you think is not used, only to find out that it does indeed appear in your code, and then your class does not compile. With Safe Delete refactoring, you can identify each usage of a class, method, or field in code before deleting it. I am going to illustrate it by trying to delete the AddedValue variable from class ImportingClass:

However, the variable was referenced in class MoveClass, so deleting it would cause an error. T=NetBeans alerts you to that, and can even show you where the member you want to delete is referenced if you clicked the “Show Usages…” button:

Change Method Parameters:

Change Method Parameters allows you to safely change everything in a method header- access modifier and arguments- and notifies you if this change is going to affect your source file. Here, I am going to try to delete the parameter x of the display method of class ImportingClass:

Parameter x is used within the method body, and so a warning is displayed:

For the following examples, I created a class called Truck, which inherits fr0m a class called Vehicle. View here.

Pull Up:

When working with classes and superclasses, Pull Up refactoring is very useful. It allows you to move class members and methods from a subclass up into the superclass.

Push Down:

Push Down is the opposite of Pull Up refactoring. It pushes a superclass member down into a subclass.

And that’s it for this time, note that those are only half of the capabilities of NetBeans refactoring. I am going to go through the other half in a following post soon. If you have any question or comment, do not hesitate to contact me.

EDIT: Part 2 is now available. Click here to read it.



8 Responses to NetBeans Refactoring – Part 1

  1. Great Feature … Ideal Post supported by pics.

  2. Wow enjoyed reading this article. I submitted your feed to my google reader.

  3. sheff says:

    Hello. Great post. Thanks a lot.

  4. ufak says:

    I use some other features often:
    – introduce method, introduce constant .. (also awailable from hints)
    – instant rename Ctrl+R on variable to give them better name

  5. aelsadek says:

    Thanks guys. Glad you liked it. Part two is now available, you can read it here:

  6. Pingback: NetBeans Refactoring – Part 2 « Significant Insignificance

  7. Pingback: NetBeans Refactoring – Part 2 « Imranakbar's Blog

  8. Pingback: [Stats] Significant Insignificance in 2010 « Significant Insignificance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: