Meet the Top Community Testers for NetBeans 6.8
Eric Smith: Beta Testing NetBeans 6.8 to Meet his Development Needs
Tell us about your background as a developer and NetBeans user.
I've been developing software since the mid 1970s so I've seen the
entire evolution of the PC, Mac, Linux, and many other things that
have come and gone. I've been consulting since my teens and have always looked for common tools that let me work
in the multitude of languages I need to use on a regular basis.
...A single IDE that meets most of my needs...
I started working with the pre-cursors to NetBeans (Forte, Sun
Developer Studio, etc), as well as Eclipse, JBuilder, TogetherJ,
Intellij Idea and straight editors when they first came out. When
NetBeans came along, it just felt right; I've used it as a primary
development tool ever since. I'm sure everyone has their specific likes and dislikes about other
IDEs as I do about each of
the tools mentioned. But as far as having a single IDE that meets
most of my needs, from C/C++ to Ruby with a bit of Java in there as
well, NetBeans works.
As a NetCAT participant you experienced
NetBeans 6.8 before the masses did. Your thoughts on the new features and the
The NetBeans team has worked very hard on the quality of the product
and some nice new features. I'm particularly impressed with the
improvements to the Ruby Debugger since NetBeans 6.7. Many of the things that caused problems before work like a charm now.
I'm also impressed by the memory management improvements. Under
6.7 and 6.7.1, I was constantly forcing Garbage Collection for some of
my larger projects. Using 6.8 during the NetCat
program, I only had to force GC once or twice. Awesome!
I know a big part of the memory is the new Environmental Ergonomics of
the IDE, where it only activates the components you need, and then only
when you need them. It's not a matter of installing everything
and having it all on, loaded in memory, and running everytime you use
the IDE after it's installed. Now, if you never develop a Ruby
application, you never load the Ruby modules. If you never
develop Java EE, then you don't load the Java EE capabilities.
Have you participated in other software Beta testing programs? Can you compare them to NetCAT?
NetBeans lets me work the way I work.
I've been beta testing software for over 20 years, both as a community
participant and as a testing team leader for clients. Outside of
the projects I've led, none have come close to the rigor and
responsiveness of the NetCAT program. Not only is the development
team far more involved than I've experienced, there is direct
interaction and meaningful discussion with them through the forums and
wiki throughout the program. It's not a matter of having a
"contact" that all communications goes through, or having an interface
with the testing team and not the development team. With NetCAT you have
the real developers asking you questions and working with you to get
your problems and issues resolved. I think that's absolutely
motivates you to contribute to the NetBeans
I'm always looking for the best tool that will help me get my customers
the most bang for their buck. If an IDE stands in my way, I'll
switch IDEs. If a database is too slow, I'll get another
database. It's that simple. Whatever let's me get things
done faster for my clients.
With NetBeans, I get that. It lets me work the way I work.
It lets me do things that other IDEs don't (without extra
plugins/add-ons). And on top of all of that, the price (FREE) is
perfect! That alone is enough to get me participating.
Unfortunately, that's not the position I find myself in
frequently. As a consultant, I typically need something that
works on multiple platforms and let's me have access to some of the
latest and hottest technologies (like JavaFX, Ruby and PHP) as well as
some older stuff (C/C++) so I work with the newest stuff on a regular
basis. That means getting access to the new tools as soon as
they're available and usable. For NetBeans, that means
NetCAT. The price for this is working with the NetBeans team to
make sure what I need and want works. The benefits to me are
advanced knowledge of the tools, better skills with the tools, and
improved speed for my clients. That's a win-win for any
consultant as far as I'm concerned.
How would you encourage other users to participate in future NetCAT cycles?
"Don't just wait around to hear about the next version of an IDE, or sit at your desk wondering if the tools you depend on will
do what you need. Take an active role in NetCAT. Make sure
you know about the latest version before it hits the network. Make sure
what you need is in there and usable when the next NetBeans
version appears. The payoff for your small time investment is
Beyond that, I'd let them know how much you can learn about the tool
and the underlying technologies by participating in the program.