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
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
At the close of each meeting, actions items are assigned to each
captain, and meeting transcripts are posted to theVOC 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
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.
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
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
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!
stewardship is a year-long term, and the next team will be selected in