NetBeans Voice of the Community (VOC) Program

By Tushar V. Joshi

What is VOC?

VOC monitors the pulse of the NetBeans community.

As the NetBeans community grows, identifying, prioritizing and managing the needs of the community becomes more and more crucial. The Voice of the Community (VOC) program was started to address these tasks. Initiated by NetBeans Community Manager Jiri Kovalsky and comprised of three captains, VOC's main activities are to monitor the various NetBeans channels such as the mailing lists, forums, and blogs, to take the pulse of the NetBeans community, and to evaluate how concerns should be handled. VOC functions as a link between the NetBeans community and NetBeans-Sun Microsystems management--a conduit for voices and ideas to be heard and a driver for transparency.

To launch VOC, Jiri solicited applications from members of the NetBeans mailing lists. Many responded, and three candidates were chosen: Michel Graciano (Brazil), Annabel Melongo (USA) and Tushar Joshi (India). The diversity of the team reflects the international range of the NetBeans community. With team members on four continents, VOC not only provides continuous monitoring of the NetBeans channels, but also brings varied cultural and geographical perspectives to the table.


How does VOC work?

Three hot-topic issues are discussed at VOC meetings.

The VOC team meets every three weeks. Each captain selects an issue from the channels they monitor. A chosen issue also needs to have been filed in Issuezilla with a valid reporter and clear description of how to reproduce it. At VOC meetings, captains have to explain why an issue is relevant, be able to reproduce it, and provide the issue's record (typically a Nabble forum thread link). If an issue is aligned with NetBeans's and Sun's technical priorities, the VOC captains and Jiri take a vote to decide on implementation.

VOC meetings are usually held via online chats; the current platform is the Kenai project for VOC. At the close of each meeting, actions items are assigned to each captain, and meeting transcripts are posted to the VOC wiki page days later. Besides posted issues, there are also high-priority issues or sudden defects in the NetBeans IDE that are discussed on the , and fixes are automatically made available in release updates.

VOC Captains on why the program matters.

“VOC has given me a sense of responsibility...”

The program has benefits not only for the community, but also for its captains. The community gets a channel to provide feedback and introduce new ideas and requests to NetBeans engineers, and the VOC captains are given the opportunity to see first-hand how the NetBeans project is shaped technically and conceptually. The captains though think that VOC has given them much more.

For Annabel Melongo, purpose.

"The VOC program has given me a sense of responsibility and organization. Responsibility because I know that what I'm doing impacts the needs of a lot of developers. Organization because I have to monitor lists, forums, blogs, make notes, organize my time and my email folders and ask people to file issues. Sometimes if I don't check the lists on the weekend I feel as if I'm letting people down. Now I monitor the lists at least ONCE during the weekend".

For Tushar Joshi, helping others stay informed.

"I have started spending more time on the NetBeans FAQ and tutorial pages. One habit I have formed is to assume all the information is available in the FAQ and tutorial sites and whenever community members are not able to get the information, send them to the correct page as it is usually available in the site somewhere. If it is not available then I try to find out whether there is any issue already filed and ask them to vote for it."

For Michel Graciano, an enriched experience.

"Helping the community by ensuring that the NetBeans team knows the users' needs, from the community's point of view, is the best feeling I get from this work."

For Jiri Kovalsky, an engaged community.

"I perceive VOC as a true dialogue with the NetBeans community. The VOC Captains get regular updates on development progress, plans, important issues, and we receive feedback about what is bothering NetBeans users during release cycles. Of course NetBeans engineers can't fix everything, but we can also turn to NetFIX developers! And VOC meeting transcripts are public which clearly supports our goal to have a true open source project.."

As these four voices attest, VOC can be an interactive and satisfying experience, leading to stronger relationships within the NetBeans community and ties to the NetBeans team.

Do you want to be focused, informed, involved and engaged? Consider trying out for the next NetBeans VOC season! VOC stewardship is a year-long term, and the next team will be selected in January 2010.

Recent VOC Achievements

Fixed Issues:

  1. Votes should not be removed
  2. Make projects usable during "project initializing"
  3. NullPointerException at SimpleTargetChooserPanelGUI.updateCreatedFolder
  4. Make the IDE usable during scanning
  5. GSP coloring not preserved when configured
  6. NullPointerException at python...invokeAction
  7. Edit/Highlight loop causes 5s-10s EDT pauses
  8. Cutting/Copying vertical blocks of text (workaround with plugin )
  9. Scanning projects task never terminates
  10. Latest patches modify build-impl.xml, setting path to "/does/not/exist"
  11. Groovy debugging support (workaround available)
  12. Output window hyperlinks don't work like they used to
  13. [67cat] Getter generation working wrong for Boolean fields
  14. Inconvenient debugging JUnit test since the fix of issue 158068 and 119922
  15. Not able to submit breakpoint : No executable location available
  16. NetBeans does not support UNC paths
  17. Option to remove whitespace at end of line
  18. [60cat] Accumulate votes over dependencies
  19. Publish JavaFX Support plugin on Stable 6.5 UC
  20. [67cat] ClassCastException: ... HtmlParserResult
  21. [67cat] Opened files full of errors after restart
  22. [65cat] Support a alias for database connection
  23. [67cat] Continue button is disabled when on breakpoint

Candidates For Implementations:

  1. Source path modification initiated from build script starts scanning
  2. search results sort buttons gone
  3. Show TODO statements at error stripe
  4. Provide an Entity/Relationship Diagram tool
  5. Wrong error badges umbrella
  6. Adding a Jar with right-click in Files View
  7. "Add JAR/Folder" must start relative to project
  8. Split add JAR/folder into two separate buttons
  9. Support a alias for database connection
  10. Formatter Defaults for "Code Conventions for the Java Programming Language"
  11. Implement beans refactoring
  12. Class index is not available until its root is first touched by java indexer

WONTFIX Issues:

  1. Project scanning continues even if the folder is removed from Libraries
  2. java debugger crashing
  3. Generating getters for a Boolean makes a getXxxx method instead of a isXxxx method
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