NetCAT 6.0 Top Cats - Jacek Laskowski & Anuradha Gunasekara
As an open source project, NetBeans places a premium on community
involvement and feedback. Look no further than the
recent NetBeans 6.0 release for evidence of this. NetBeans users were
forefront of the call
to take the release candidate builds of the IDE
into FCS status.
NetBeans offers more than a half-dozen ways for users to take an active
role in shaping the direction of the project. One such avenue is
the NetBeans Community Acceptance Testing program, which gives
a selected group of active NetBeans users the opportunity to get
involved in the quality assurance testing of Beta and RC builds of the
Get an overview of NetCAT in this talk with Program Coordinator
Jirka Kovalsky, in which he also spotlights two top members of the
recent NetCAT 6.0 team and reveals what interested NetBeans users will
want to know about taking part in future NetCAT cycles.
is your role as the NetCAT
My primary tasks include sending out
NetCAT invitation notices, communicating with applicants and
coordinating the selection process. Once a cycle begins, I monitor
traffic on the NetCAT mailing list, moderate “hot” discussions,
answer or forward questions to NetBeans engineers, and organize
surveys for features that are being tested, such as the Editor,
Woodstock components, etc.
It is a challenging but interesting
role. I have to make sure that all participants feel valued and
motivated, but sometimes I'm the bearer of bad news. For example,
someone reports a nasty P2 bug but we decide against a fix because
it's dangerous or there is too little time. On the other hand, I
enjoy the fact that 60 people located in various time zones, from
different cultures, work together and share the same goal. It's very
encouraging to feel their passion, watch their lively discussions and
see their contributions. It's an eye-opening experience.
the cool logo, NetCAT has nothing to do with felines. How well does the
NetBeans community get the function of NetCAT?
I think NetCAT participants in general
the role of the program very well, and have the right set of
expectations. Still, I sometimes find myself having to emphasize that
NetCAT is only about quality and not
design. On a lighter note, I've had individuals mistake the project for
How are participants selected?
NetCAT 6.0 Stats
Team Members: 60
Bugs Reported: 660
Emails Exchanged: 2700
Surveys Completed: 5
Length of Cycle: 91 Days
Interested participants submit
their application online and provide us with their personal and
professional information, and testing environment—this means what
can use for testing, which JDKs they have installed, etc. All
are evaluated and assigned
points. For example, four or more years of experience using the
NetBeans IDE translates into 0.6 points; having eight hours per week
to volunteer for NetCAT is worth 0.6 points; experience with
Issuezilla earns an applicant 0.5 points; and so on. Points can be
deducted as well. For example, no Version Control System usage is a
-0.1 point loss.
Several NetBeans engineers are involved
in the review process also. They select their 10 favorite applicants,
which means the applicants get 1 point for each such preference. The
points are tallied up and all applicants are compared. The best 60
applicants and 30 substitutes are selected.
Tell us about the two NetCAT 6.0 members—Jacek Laskowski and
Anuradha Gunasekara—that you've singled out for
Laskowski is a Polish developer
and a NetCAT veteran (he participated in the 5.0 cycle). His areas of
focus are J2EE and Web Services, and his work on NetCAT 6.0 earned
him the award of “Most Helpful Member”. Anuradha Gunasekara is a
developer from Colombo, Sri Lanka. He concentrated on Life Cycle tools
and SOA functionality in the project; he is the runner-up in the
“Most Agile Member” category.
"Most Helpful, Most Agile"? Explain these distinctions.
I monitor the activity of all NetCAT
participants, and everyone earns CAT points for his or her various
tasks—two points for RFEs, four points for bug reports, five to ten
points for participating in surveys, etc. The person with the most
points is recognized as the “Most Helpful”.
Jacek, for example, was our best bug
reporter, submitting an astonishing 82 bugs and 12 RFEs (Request For
Enhancement). He participated in 4 surveys and gave excellent reviews
of documentation for Enterprise applications and Web Services, to
name a few. His P1 issue (#122228)
about inconsistency on method removal in the Web Services Designer was
accepted as RC1 show stopper and fixed in RC2.
NetCAT 6.0 Top Cats
Most Helpful Members
Most Agile Members
The “Most Agile” category is a new
one for NetCAT. Sometimes inactive members are replaced by
substitutes who have little chance of being considered the “Most
Helpful” grade because they've joined a cycle already in progress.
To acknowledge these substitutes, some of whom become as active as
the top participants, I introduced this category, which takes the
total number of earned CAT points and divides it by the number of
days involved in NetCAT. This way, a member with 50 points but less
days on the project could technically be considered more active than
one who started on track with NetCAT and has 90 points.
had the most points in the “Most
Agile”category as well, but I have singled out Anuradha, the runner-up,
for the reasons I just described.
Despite joining NetCAT 6.0 midway
through, Anuradha was an excellent participant, sometimes working
even faster than our engineers! He is familiar with NetBeans APIs and
his speed was a definite benefit for us. He
reported 26 bugs and 3 RFEs, took surveys and on two occasions fixed
major bugs by himself. But NetCAT isn't only Anuradha's contribution
to the NetBeans community; he also has three plugins in the Plugin
and succeeded in getting two of them into our Update Center.
What's the average length of a NetCAT
NetCAT usually takes about two to four
months, starting with Beta and ending with the RC1 build.
And the characteristics of a good
The ideal NetCAT cycle is one with very
active participants till the very end. The team members believe in
and are invested in the success of the product because of the effort
they've contributed. This is also good because they usually promote
the IDE to their friends, colleagues, etc. I for one consider NetCAT
6.0 to be the best NetCAT program ever.
What stood out in NetCAT 6.0?
NetCAT 6.0 was different in several aspects. First, we opened
Community Acceptance survey to the whole NetBeans community.
we introduced a replacement of inactive participants; perhaps this is
why team feedback
was good till the end.
When is the next round of NetCAT?
This is still to be determined.
NetBeans 6.1 will not have a NetCAT cycle because it will be a bug
fix release without many new features.
Besides helping to release a great product, what else can people
taking part in NetCAT?
NetCAT is a unique chance for participants to improve their knowledge
by learning from others; and of course, friendships are created. People
get special prizes, such as limited edition
or free vouchers towards the NetBeans
And finally, it's an excellent addition for their CVs!
Thank you Jirka for the interview and
for spotlighting Jacek and Anuradha.
6.0 Team Members
Jirka Kovalsky Discusses NetCAT 6.0 on NetBeans
Podcast Episode 37