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…

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