Saturday, April 27, 2019

Apache NetBeans interview

As Apache NetBeans became a top level Apache project and finished the incubation process I was asked for an interview and my photo.

Only a single quote was taken from the interview and used on a not too positive article about NetBeans. The quote was presented as coming from me as a member of the 'Project Management Committee' to give it even more weight.

Bellow is my full interview for historical reference:

> Do you think Apache is the best place for NetBeans?

Churchill said that 'democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time'.

In the current context, there is no better place.

Maybe in some alternate universe Sun Microsystems didn't spend a full $1 billion on MySQL but took a chunk of that to create a NetBeans Foundation that rivals the Eclipse Foundation... but I'm not entirely certain it would have been better for the project.

> What kind of future do you anticipate for NetBeans under Apache?

This depends on how Apache and the other Apache projects value NetBeans. There is a lot of integration that would help both the projects and the end users.

The ASF is a large Java house now so having a programming language (Groovy), an IDE (NetBeans), build systems (Ant, Maven) and application runtimes (Tomcat, TomEE) means you can do some interesting things in sync.

If you think about it, the IDE is the last major piece of the puzzle missing from Apache. So now, you can push a new feature all the way to developers using the IDE really easy.

Imagine you want to introduce, say, reproducible builds to the Java developer world. Well, you change the build systems, have the runtimes also reproducible then push this to the default project types in the IDE and suddenly all new Java projects created by developers using the IDE are reproducible. You can really change and educate the world really fast.

And education is not to be understated. An IDE suggestion that the developer sees *while editing code* is educational. Want people to use libraries better? A blog post might help, but people have to find it and read it. But if a suggestion about how to use the library better is part of NetBeans, all developers will see it!

It's not clear to me yet if the ASF takes such a holistic approach, but there's a big opportunity here. Everything fits.

> What will your project management committee do to advance NetBeans?

This is a hard question for me since I'm not the 'manager' of NetBeans. Nobody is. The whole point under Apache is to participate as individuals, regardless of the employer (that might sometimes be sponsoring said involvement).

So, I don't necessarily see hard targets like under a strictly hierarchical corporation.

Changes happens somewhat chaotically but towards betterment. Many people submit specific bug fixes for their particular problems while other work on more big picture changes (like a new Java version being supported, etc).

On the Java front we have a lot of community members that work on it, a few of them full time as part of their job at Oracle. On PHP we also have some folks, particularly Jun-ichi Yamamoto from Japan. JavaEE is also quite popular. We had people add support for JUnit 5, etc.

Basically the community will self-organize to overcome obstacles. We had somebody fix a really hard bug in the Java profiler. I would have thought that only a handful of core Java developers from Oracle knew how to fix that. But the individual looked into it, worked hard and fixed it! There's a lot of hidden talent like that.

> Also, what is the role of the committee?


The PMC decides which new committers get added (which in turn decide how the code is changed) and then votes when a release is to be made as an act of the Apache foundation. We also oversee how the NetBeans trademark is used and basically take care of the NetBeans project and brand as a whole.

> Thank you very much!

No problem. BTW, the individual doing the hard Profiler bugfix I mentioned is called Peter Hull.


Unknown said...

Nice interview Emilian!

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