Meet the Top Community Testers for NetBeans 6.8

January 2010

Ulf Zibis: Six Advantages of Being a NetBeans Beta Tester

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

Ulf Zibis - NetCAT 6.8 ParticipantI started with the KAWA editor in 1999. My first IDE was Sun's Forte; then replaced by Sun Studio and then later the NetBeans IDE. Intermittently, I tried Eclipse, but I didn't see any advantages for me. For example, it lacked the Mobility and GUI Builder capabilities of NetBeans.

My interests: I've been hacking at the JDK code for a long time. It started with finding and fixing several bugs in the JDBC-ODBC driver because I wanted to integrate a simple object oriented interface (jdbc-odbc-enhanced). While bug fixing, I stumbled across a performance leak caused by the inability of the java.nio.charset API to handle zero-terminated native strings efficiently. So I thought about adding such an ability to this API (java-nio-charset-enhanced). Looking into the code, I found out that there was a big potential to enhance the charset implementation in performance and footprint. At that time, almost 20% (~7MB) of the Java runtime footprint was occupied by the charset coding implementation. In theory, it could be reduced to ~1MB, and performance enhanced significantly by up to five times. I'm still working on this.

As a NetCAT participant you experienced NetBeans 6.8 before the masses did. Your thoughts on the new features and the quality?

Ulf Zibis
Location: Cologne, Germany


NetCAT 6.8 Stats
Bugs Filed: 55
RFEs Filed: 9
Emails Sent: 92
Total NetCAT Points: 330
NetCAT 6.8 Activity Log

More NetCAT 6.8 Spotlights:
Eric Smith, Michel Graciano
Because I worked mostly on very low-level code, I won't comment on the big features. But in NetBeans 6.8 I saw steady enhancements in usability and flexibility of the basics. 6.8 is the first release in which I could develop and debug JDK 7 library code inside the IDE, using standard Java project without the need for too many half-baked tricks. Also, performance increased, and I think 6.8 is the most stable release we've ever had.

However, I still think the "Compile-on-Save" feature has a troublesome naming for new users. This caused many heated discussions during the testing program. As the NetBeans IDE always compiles the code immediately and not only after save, I prefer a name such as "Smart-Deploy". (See NetBeans Forum thread: Rethinking CoS again.) Additionally, there are still pending standard editor capabilities such as better search/replacement handling, column-oriented block editing/pasting, one-hand-mouse-copy, or offset-diff inside same file; some context menus could be enriched and additional tools such as javap and JDK make  integrated.

Have you participated in other software Beta testing programs? Can you compare them to NetCAT?

Rarely. I've been a NetCAT member since version 4.1, and I can't think of anywhere else where there is a better response and contribution about bugs and RFEs than from the NetCAT team. I'm highly involved in JDK 7 development, and I can say that the work flow for that is much harder.  

What motivates you to contribute to the NetBeans project?

  • If I'm missing certain features participating in the NetCAT program gives me the chance to have them in future releases.
  • Knowledge sharing with the experts.
  • Benefiting from new features before releases.
  • Participating in the community.
  • Fun.
  • Free T-Shirts!

How would you encourage other users to participate in future NetCAT cycles?

  • You will get a deeper understanding of how NetBeans works, as well as experience in professional software development.
  • You can leave your mark on the IDE: Many of your development needs stand a good chance of becoming part of the release build.
  • You will learn more about Java and other advanced features of the IDE, as well as get free support from the NetBeans team and fellow NetCAT participants.
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