Meet the Top Community Testers for NetBeans 6.8

January 2010

Eric Smith: Beta Testing NetBeans 6.8 to Meet his Development Needs


Tell us about your background as a developer and NetBeans user.

Eric Smith - NetCAT 6.8 TesterI'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 quality?

Location: United States

NetCAT 6.8 Stats
Bugs Filed: 114
RFEs Filed: 7
Emails Sent: 67
Total NetCAT Points: 562
NetCAT 6.8 Activity Log

More NetCAT 6.8 Spotlights:
Ulf Zibis, Michel Graciano
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 fantastic. 

What motivates you to contribute to the NetBeans project?

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 incredible."

Beyond that, I'd let them know how much you can learn about the tool and the underlying technologies by participating in the program.

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