NetBeans Evangelists Look Back
As part of the NetBeans tenth birthday celebration, we
asked some former members of the NetBeans Evangelism
team to look back at some of their favorite memories from
|We start with Judith Lilienfeld,
who was the Director
of Evangelism for the NetBeans team, and remembers: "Engineering came
me asking for a 'cool name' for their new GUI/Layout Builder. I had
been working on NetBeans for around six months then. Engineers are like
most people: they want your input - but only if it matches their
expectations. :-) There were long email threads about whether we should
use artist names that evoke emotions,
or descriptive names, or a more abstract notion.
"They even created a wiki page with all the possibilities. I
eventually convinced them (or maybe they grew tired of arguing with me)
that the name should be Project Matisse. I liked using Matisse because
his artistic images are very fluid and he even did layout work later in
his career. And before you knew it everyone was calling it Project
Matisse. After that, I got a little 'street cred' with engineering and
they listened to me a bit more... but just a bit. It helps that they
delivered great functionality which was part of what really helped
bring in new NetBeans users."
Judith is currently the Director of
Evangelism for OpenSolaris.
|The growth of NetBeans is
something that Roman Strobl also
commented on: "When I started to work on NetBeans back in 2004 almost
no one was using it. I remember some of my friends actually made fun of
me for using NetBeans, because they thought the tool was much worse
than any other IDE on the market. Using NetBeans in 2004 or before felt
almost like being an underground developer.
"I even knew about several companies where developers used NetBeans
but they didn't tell their managers because they wouldn't approve usage
of NetBeans at that time. Boy, times have changed in the last 4 years!
Today, people are very excited to learn about the newest features of
NetBeans and the public perception has changed from 'slow, ugly and not
feature complete' to 'innovative, cool and fast.' The growth in the
community has been fantastic - I wish a happy 10th birthday to NetBeans
- the product has come a very very long way," said Strobl.
works as an OpenSolaris evangelist.
|Evangelizing NetBeans often
meant lengthy trips to foreign
countries. Tim Boudreau made many of those trips, and one of his most
memorable was his first trip to Brazil, in which he describes: "In
2005, Charlie Hunt and I went to Brazil for the first time. We didn't
know just how last-minute some events are organized there. We'd been
told we would do a talk at an event on Thursday, and then deliver some
training the following week. I met Bruno Souza for the first time
before our talk.
"I asked him what we would be doing the following week. He said
'Oh, we don't have you scheduled for anything.' We were a bit upset,
thinking, we flew all the way to Brazil to give a 1/2 hour talk?! We
looked in to flying back after the weekend. On Monday morning, I wake
up in my hotel room to the phone ringing. It was Charlie: ''You're not
gonna' believe this. We're scheduled to do eight hours of training
today, eight more tomorrow, and eight more on Wednesday! We need to be
at the university in an hour.'
"We had nothing prepared, since we'd planned to use Friday through
Sunday to prepare for the following week, but held off after finding
out we weren't scheduled for anything. So, we got in a taxi with our
laptops and planned out the first day of training on the road to the
university. Then we tag-teamed for the next three days - one of us
would teach for an hour while the other invented the next hour of
training. It actually worked and we had fun doing it!" These days,
Tim's life is a bit less hectic as the Development lead for Java ME
Bruno's recollection of that trip is a bit different. He suspects a
mis-communication was responsible for Tim and Charlie initially
thinking that no event was scheduled. In any case, Bruno was
instrumental in many events, as he recalls: "Even before I joined the
NetBeans team, I worked together with the NetBeans Evangelists on
several tours to visit Java User Groups around Brazil, and it was
always a big hit with the developers, and lots of fun.
"But it was when I joined the team that we decided to do a tour of
four South American countries! We visited many cities doing a full day
of talks about open source, NetBeans, and OpenSolaris, and once went
from playing soccer in Uruguay (and losing badly) to eating loads of
meat and then rolling down sand dunes in Brazil. During those two
weeks, we had almost no sleep, and had to run after airplanes, buses,
and taxis because we were always late.
"I was also the group's camera man; I recorded all the details of a
particularly bad day, which eventually became a
funny video on NetBeans.tv. After all that, I got on a plane and went to
Russia to meet more developers. That was a crazy, memorable couple of
weeks!" Bruno is still active in the open source world, working in a
group at Sun that does worldwide open source community gardening:
"helping open source communities grow and bloom."
|All these efforts were about one
thing: getting the word out about
NetBeans. One of the unique projects was the "NetBeans Mobile"
cross-country journey. Tim was the owner, mechanic, and pilot, but the
promotional idea was the brainchild of David Botterill, who recalls: "I
remember when Tim sent out a picture of his moving 'truck' that he had
purchased, an old ice cream truck. It looked like the van that Borat
drove to Hollywood. I quickly opened GIMP and placed a large NetBeans
logo on the side and called it the 'NetBeans Mobile.'
"I told him he should drive it across the U.S. and advertise
NetBeans along the way with a webcam and a GPS device to track his
journey. In addition to logos on the sides, maybe paint 'How's my
developing? For comments visit http://www.netbeans.org' on the back of
the truck. Well, Tim went for the idea and Judith approved. And the
journey of the NetBeans Mobile ended up being a historic moment."
is still coming up with unique ideas as the Technical Manager for Sun's
Campus Ambassador program.
Transportation figured in to one of Gregg Sporar's favorite
memories as well: "We were in Prague during the celebration of the
launch of NetBeans 5.5. Everyone attended a big party that was in a
part of the city with which I was not familiar. I left at the same time
as Judith and another member of our team, Ashwin Rao. We had been told
to take the number 26 tram because it would end up going right by our
"We walked to the tram stop and after just a few minutes we got
lucky: a number 26 came by, so we got on. There was a sign in the
window of the tram that said something in Czech, but since we none of
us could read it, we had no choice but to ignore it. The tram rumbled
along for a while, making stops and the passenger load got smaller and
smaller. Eventually, it was just the three of us and the driver. He
pulled into a tram stop, turned off the tram, and then came back to us
and said: 'Finito.'
"It was late and dark and we did not know where we were. But
clearly that particular tram was not going to get us back to the hotel.
So we got on a tram going in the opposite direction. As we went by the
different stops, I was trying to read the names, and got confused
because every stop seemed to have the same name. Then I figured out I
was looking at the 'No Smoking' sign instead of the name of the stop.
We did eventually find our way back and we learned to watch out for
those tram signs that apparently say: 'Going out of service.'"
still takes trams, these days as a Technology Evangelist on the
All of these stories have a similar element: no one got hurt. The
same came not be said in the wake of Brian Leonard, however, as he
"At a NetBeans presentation we love to throw t-shirts into
the crowd. I tend to roll the t-shirts up tight with elastic bands so
they're about the size of a baseball, which allows me to reach the
folks in the back of the room. They're also, however, much harder to
catch, usually ricocheting off fingers before being caught. This is
usually entertaining (at least for me) and especially so at one
conference in Florida that had pitchers of water on the tables.
"Folks were getting splashed as the t-shirts were deflected into the
pitchers of water. This only seemed to get the crowd more excited. I
had to stop when one person fell back in his chair, which landed on the
foot of the woman behind him, who was wearing sandals. After the
presentation, she tracked me down to show me the welt on her foot. I
felt so sorry for her, but she didn't seem to mind given the amount of
fun she was having."
days, Brian is still throwing t-shirts, but now for OpenSolaris.
The NetBeans Web and Evangelism
Team circa 2006. From left: Ruth Kusterer, Jan Pirek, Jack Catchpoole,
Brian Leonard, Judith Lilienfeld, Roman Strobl, Tim Boudreau, Tori
Wieldt, Bruno Souza, David Botterill, Gregg Sporar and Ashwin Rao.
NetBeans IDE 10th Birthday Celebration