Freeplane's build system is based on GRADLE. So gradle can support concerning development processing and generation of configuration files.

Freeplane can be developed in basically any IDE (integrated development environment) like Eclipse, IntelliJ and Netbeans. These IDEs provide the UI (user interface) for the whole development process, including the support for code edit, search, debugging, testing,... At the same time, no developer is forced to use any of these IDEs, but can also use e.g. vim, as gradle is able to provides fitting configurations for any environment. If you use a proper IDE, configuration and manifest files are needed e.g. for debugging. They are created when executing gradle with the build parameter set.

If you executed gradle builds for previous Freeplane versions, you should manually delete all MANIFEST.MF files which were generated by build scripts, they are not needed any more.

IDE: Eclipse

Eclipse can directly import Gradle files using the buildship plugin. Please see the setup for scripting, with the difference that you can use your freeplane local repository directory in stead of the freeplane_root source directory. There is no need to use the Gradle cleanEclipse eclipse tasks that are explained in the next paragraph. If you do, it will remove the Gradle nature from the imported Freeplane projects.

Alternatively, if you want to configure Eclipse manually, all necessary eclipse project files can be generated by gradle using the eclipse parameter together with the gradle command. In effect, you should start a full and clean build using the following command:

gradle clean build cleanEclipse eclipse

This also creates an executable Freeplane application within the BIN folder below the current folder.

Now, you should start your Eclipse IDE and let it point to the base project folder (the folder where you just executed gradle). Up and running, you would now import the Freeplane project from the Eclipse top menu and choose ALL Freeplane project options from the import list. Now, please drop the '''freeplane_mac''' project when you don't work on a Mac. Otherwise it would cause you problems.

If you want to build and launch Freeplane for the first time in your newly configured IDE, you should look for the location of the launch configurations within Freeplane's source tree on the left side of the Eclipse window:

freeplane_debughelper / eclipse / freeplane.launch

would be the most useful one. But there are others like freeplane_debughelper/eclipse/freeplane dist.launch and freeplane_debughelper/eclipse/freeplane dist mac.launch, which are used to launch binary distributions created by gradle build.

As soon as you have once launched Freeplane as described, you will find appropriate menu items within the icons menu (RUN as well as DEBUG), from where you now can launch Freeplane for RUN or DEBUGGING purposes.

IDE: IntelliJ

This page has the instructions that may be the easiest, currently: Setting_IDE_for_debugging

Otherwise, you can try those steps:

The short story:
IntelliJ can directly import gradle files. After the import the directory freeplane_debughelper/idea/runConfigurations containing run configuration files should be copied into directory .idea created by IntelliJ in project root. Restart IntelliJ afterwards.

Detailed instructions:

Download and install IntelliJ Community Edition


  • Extract in some directory

  • Run .../idea-IC-VERSION/bin/ (or similar on non-GNU platforms)

    • Do not import settings
    • Choose (any) UI theme
    • (optionally) Create desktop entry
    • (optionally) Create launcher script
    • Choose default plugins (you can disable some, like Android)
    • Do not download featured plugins
    • Click Start using IntelliJ IDEA

Open the freeplane checkout (IntelliJ 2021)

  • Click Open (when starting IntelliJ)
  • Point to the build.gradle in the checkout and click OK, then Open as Project
  • Trust project
  • change the project:
    • Enable Build with IntelliJ
    • You will get an error due to a proected package sun.awtshell ->
      File->Settings->Build->Compiler->Java Compiler->[ ] use Release
  • execute a toplevel gradle build for the command line (this is necessary for generating lexers etc.)
  • copy freeplane_debughelper/idea/runConfigurations (the whole runConfigurations directory!) containing run configuration files into .idea created by IntelliJ in project root
  • Restart IntelliJ afterwards.

Import the Freeplane build system (IntelliJ <= 2020)

  • Click Import Project (when starting IntelliJ)
  • Point to the settings.gradle in your checkout and click OK
    • Choose settings like these:
    • Make sure to use an unzipped gradle binary distribution (~/Downloads/gradle-5.1.1 in this case); a gradle linux distribution package did not work for me, not even with this information
  • Click OK and wait
  • copy freeplane_debughelper/idea/runConfigurations (the whole runConfigurations directory!) containing run configuration files into .idea created by IntelliJ in project root
  • Restart IntelliJ afterwards.

Start developing Freeplane

  • In order to run, choose Run->Run...->freeplane
    • If the field "Use classpath for module" is empty, put freeplane_root.freeplane_debughelper.main in there
  • In order to debug, choose Run->Debug...->freeplane

IDE: Netbeans

Netbeans can directly import gradle files using its Gradle support plug-in. Gradle tasks needed for running and debugging from the IDE are defined in freeplane_debughelper/build.gradle