Are you brimming with ideas for
tutorials that other NetBeans users might find helpful? Do you often
blog about best practices for working in NetBeans or about shortcuts
in the IDE? When browsing mailing lists, do you readily give tips and
advice to other users? If you answered “yes” to any of these
questions, then the NetBeans
Community Docs Program just might be the
thing for you.
Launched in March, the Community Docs
Program encourages NetBeans users to take an active
role in growing the community's knowledge base. It calls on community
members to contribute tutorials and screencasts, to answer user FAQs,
translate existing documentation into other languages, and more. In
this interview, program manager James Branam discusses the program's
current state, how it works and what community members need to know
about submitting a good tutorial.
Community Docs program started about eight months ago, what's
status of the program now?
We expected some contributions from the community, with the number of
contributions growing steadily. However, support was strong from the
start, and the present number (60) has exceeded all expectations. As a
matter of fact, we've reached the point where additional help is needed
to handle contributions. Amit
Kumar Saha, the newly-appointed Community
Docs Contribution Coordinator, has really stepped up to help in this
How do you find contributors?
Most are found by going though blog entries about NetBeans, contacting
the blogger, and encouraging participation. The author then puts the
blog entry into wiki format and links to it from the main Community
Docs wiki. If any help is needed to complete this process, Amit or
step in to provide assistance. In almost all cases, the blogger is
excited about being able to contribute. In the future, we would like to
see more unsolicited material. Interested contributors can email me:
, or Amit:
Submitting Tutorials to the Community
Usefulness more than anything. How can the submission help someone
else? Can it answer a question, provide steps for performing certain
tasks? Is it written so that others can follow its steps easily? Would
you yourself find it useful? The ideal Community Docs submission is one
that fills a
gap, a knowledge hole, if you will. Whether or not a contribution
is solicited, unsolicited, requested, or simply offered out of the blue
has no bearing on its overall value to the community. Community
members will decide how useful a submission is if it meets their needs.
We have turned down submissions due to redundancy. It doesn't make
sense to have two contributors submit tutorials that are almost
identical in topic. Of course this happens very rarely; it's a good
idea for potential contributors to browse the wiki to make sure similar
tutorials don't already exist. In general, community members are very
good about determining what should be submitted.
Which is preferred: pitched tutorials or topics selected from the
Tricky question. I have two things to say about this: If a tutorial is
on the Wish List, it was put there because a community member needed
help with a certain task that the tutorial would address. So the Wish
List matters. On the other hand, pitched tutorials are just as
important in that they bring new ideas to the Community Docs program.
It's like a community member saying: “Hey, look what you can do with
Need Ideas About What to
Contribute? Check Out These Topics from the Wish
Creating Modules: How
to Add Support for Refactoring
Importing a JBuilder Project into NetBeans
Using the Tapestry Framework with NetBeans
Integrating JDIC Components with NetBeans
Can contributors expect to see their work featured on NetBeans.org?
There's a possibility. NetBeans.org has a content team that maintains
the site; depending on their needs, they can select tutorials from the
Community Docs' collection. Tutorials are also sometimes featured in
Weekly Newsletter. I have no say in both of these
processes, but I welcome the publicity for the Docs program and its
Being Community Docs Manager is not your only role here at
What else keeps you busy?
I'm also responsible for Web online Help and tutorials, Release Notes,
and representing the Docs team at several meetings. I also blog about
Is there a particular tutorial that you would really like to have?
Anything on importing Eclipse projects to NetBeans is a top priority.
Amit Kumar Saha, the Community Docs Coordinator, is
busy working on this.
us a bit more about Amit.
Amit is a developer and blogger
from Kolkata, India. After his second
contribution, he asked how he could do more and I came up
with the idea of the Contribution Coordinator, someone in the community
who could help out, and eventually take over the program. I've really
enjoyed working with Amit. His enthusiasm for NetBeans is a huge asset
for the community, not to mention the hard work he has put in.
What's the next phase for the program?
Naturally, getting more quality submissions. It's important for
community members to see and fill the needs themselves. It's their
community, and it can only be as good and as self-sufficient as they