NetBeans, community and documentation: let’s drive it forth…

Well, I’m in for more (though voluntary) work soon: A while ago I have offered to act as Contribution Coordinator to the NetBeans Community Documentation program, and because (or, as I shall say now, despite) being pretty much into day-to-day work at the moment, I am about to get this started on April 1, 2009 (which is rather soon). Just a couple of days ago, this project has reached its 300th contribution exactly two years after being started, to me sort of proof that NetBeans community to some extend has accepted and embraced the idea of contributing something back to the project by writing documentation, offering tips, tricks, hints, tutorials and whatever they eventually could come up with in course of using NetBeans in everyday life projects. Notably, too, is that Varun Nischal has done a great job pushing the project ahead to reach this impressive milestone, so I guess this is quite a heritage to deal with, this is something I surely have to work to be on par with. :) By now, all I eventually could offer is quite some enthusiasm about both NetBeans and the documentation project itself, and a bunch of (hopefully) good ideas on where to go from here…

Let’s hope for the best and see what will grow out of this. At the moment, I am once again planning to do something both enjoyable and (in this context) useful in travelling to Prague once again, hope to meet some of the guys over there and see what can be done. In this “new phase” of its doings, I think the Community Documentation project basically should / could aim at a bunch of interesting goals:

  • Of course, it should as good as possible “spread the word”, do its part to extending the NetBeans user base first and foremost as an IDE but of course beyond that. From this point of view, one of the most important things in my opinion is to raise awareness that NetBeans IDE is a rather good foundation for virtually any developer, be that in open-source projects or wherever, to build custom tooling for her/his shiny new framework, application server, … upon, thus also extending the feature set of the IDE, making this a tool even “sharper”.
  • Asides the Community Docs, NetBeans also has an excellent Knowledge Base to offer (honestly, like most of the Sun related technologies and platforms do), providing insights and documentation on most if not all aspects interesting about the NetBeans platform, partly also filled by documents off the Community Docs program, partly written by full-time technical writers. Providing high-quality “real life” documentation and tutorials eventually could be a way for Community Docs authors to actively support the NetBeans team, eventually allowing for full-time internal writers located “near” the NetBeans core team to focus on in-depth covering technical details and all these aspects that would require documentation created along with the very authors of the code, while the Community Docs folks take care of most of the “user space” work which in many respects just seems “a load of work”. Maybe this way we all could do our best making NetBeans even better by making it one of the best-documented pieces of software available out there. :)

By now, I invite anyone interested to join the project, join the program, offer feedback, hints or comments or whatever. Same as the IDE itself, or the platform at the foundation of it, the documentation only will be as good as those using it, reporting their needs, providing comments and requesting new articles. Let’s get goin’ then…

Columba: How to revive an open-source project?

Almost two years ago, maintainers of the Columba Mail mail client announced the end of their project due to obvious reasons (lack of time, being busy in “real life). Looking at some screenshots and the overall maturity of this (Java/Swing based) application, seeing this one being passed away that soon is rather sad – there’s a lot of good functionality in it already, and the world surely could benefit from having a cross-platform mail user agent written in plain Java not JavaScript. ;) So… I wonder whether there is a good way of acquiring people in order to revive an open source project like this, and be that just for maintaining the code base, fixing basic issues, keeping the project alive. Of course, then again integrating it with, say, the NetBeans RC platform surely would be a nice thing… :) Comments, anyone?

NetBeans 6.7: still the only (maven2) IDE you’ll ever need…

Now that NetBeans 7.0 6.7 is just around the corner and comes with a set of interesting improvements, I wanted to take a few moments again reflecting what has eventually been most important to me in NetBeans IDE: Support for apache maven. Earlier I switched to NetBeans after being using Eclipse for quite a while because Maven2 tooling in Eclipse used to, well, leave a lot to be desired.

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Best operating system for Java Developers?

Phoronix has an interesting benchmark comparing Java on Ubuntu GNU/Linux 8.10 / OpenJDK, Ubuntu 8.10 / Sun JDK and Windows Vista /Sun JDK. The figures and numbers are quite impressive, and so is the conclusion:

Well, Java on Ubuntu was pretty much the hands-down winner compared to Microsoft Windows Vista Premium SP1. Running the Java tests on Ubuntu had experienced significant advantages when it came to file encryption, Fast Fourier Transforms, Successive Over Relaxation, Monte Carlo, and the composite Java SciMark performance. In only the Sunflow test were the results between Ubuntu and Windows even close. With the Java 2D Microbenchmark, Windows was faster but that likely falls on the Intel Linux graphics driver having little in the way of performance optimizations and Java on Linux not yet utilizing the X Render extension.

Maybe this eventually could be extended in the future to (a) also include OpenSolaris and MacOS as platforms and (b) also feature performance tests of a full-blown Java EE server environment. But then again, maybe at some point it simply will become way too complex and unmanageable. Maybe a first good variation of this comparison already would be using operating systems optimized and tweaked by administrators who know their job rather than going with the “default” settings. But overally, of course, I like the outcome so far. ;)

NetBeans: 6.5 unveiled

Without further ado: Yesterday, on November 19, 2008, NetBeans 6.5 finally was made publicly available, putting an end to quite an interesting period of development and NetCAT testing. Having PHP and Python support as well as integration of Glassfish V3 Prelude application server in the Java EE downloads eventually the most noticeable new features, the 6.5 release mainly “just” is a logical improvement of the releases of the 6.x series seen so far, making development a little more easier and more straightforward. Being using pre-release builds in productive work for quite some months now, for my use cases NB 6.5 mainly has to offer a vast bunch of “minor” improvements (under the hood?) which, though overally not visible at first sight, make working with the IDE just a bit more convenient. If you don’t use it so far, you should really have a look at the feature description and some of the introductory screencasts to eventually by then get NetBeans 6.5 for your platform and development profile and get started getting work done, as this is what NetBeans definitely is best at. Congratulations to all the team for packing up such a great release, now let’s take on 7.0… ;)