Frequently Asked Questions about NetCAT

What is the basic purpose of NetCAT?

Simply put, the goal of this program is to get active Apache NetBeans community members involved in testing the Apache NetBeans IDE development builds. Participants will provide feedback on product usability, quality and performance. In return, these volunteers are given an opportunity to significantly influence the quality of the Apache NetBeans IDE. It is important to stress though that the NetCAT program is about quality acceptance and not about feature design.

This program is the successor of NetCAT program, which was formerly run by Oracle Inc.

How can I participate in NetCAT?

If you have experience with software development and would like to help NetBeans become the best IDE, simply subscribe to mailing list, register yourself in the NetCAT 12.0 Participants Wiki page and also create your account in NetBeans Synergy test case management system. If you are interested in our previous discussions, browse through the web archive of the NetCAT mailing list.

Can you describe my responsibilities if I join NetCAT?

As a member of the NetCAT team you will be expected to provide us with feedback on the two functional areas you chose to focus on. Though it is perfectly acceptable to only evaluate milestone builds, we would truly appreciate it if you used and tested the daily development builds.

The main communication channels are JIRA and mailing list, your input may also be requested via additional surveys or online IRC meetings during NetCAT program. At the end of the program, you will be asked to submit a Community Acceptance (CA) survey in which you can express your opinion as to whether or not the new main features are ready for release.

What are NetCAT tribes?

NetCAT Tribe is a group of NetCAT participants focusing primarily on testing one particular functionality area such as Debugger, PHP or Maven. Tribe members review and keep up-to-date test specifications for their functionality area, then perform full or sanity testing and eventually provide either Go or NoGo recommendation according to a fixed schedule.

What am I expected to test?

We would really appreciate it if you could test the latest development build. It's not necessary to download a new build every day but 2-3 days period sounds like a good compromise. Please don't compile NetBeans sources yourself.

Should NetCAT e-mails be prefixed?

Yes, in order to simplify reading e-mails on the NetCAT mailing list it is important to use the following prefixes in the e-mail subjects. Please try to adhere to this rule.

[rcp]Rich Client Platform
[gui]GUI Builder
[fx]Java FX
[unit]Unit Testing
[vcs]Version Control

If I become NetCAT tribe leader, what will my tasks be?

Tribe leader's main role is to distribute the functionality their tribe is focusing on among fellow tribe members to achieve maximum testing coverage and then coordinate the works. Such coordination could take an hour or two every week. The full testing is typically several weeks long and certification of the final GA candidate build just a few days. During these periods tribe leader should:

  • check progress with individual members
  • keep them motivated
  • help them resolve potential issues
  • communicate with NetCAT coordinator, particularly when obstacles arise
  • encourage tribe members to verify fixed bugs

According to Release Criteria tribe leaders have two special privileges:

  • They can label a bug with WAIVER tag after reaching consensus within their tribe.
  • They can label a bug with BLOCKER tag after reaching consensus within their tribe. Only 3 such open bugs per tribe can be labeled this way at a time.

Additionally, it is much appreciated if tribe leaders organize a review of test specifications for their functionality and together try to update these if time permits before full testing.

Can I become the NetCAT coordinator?

Yes. We are actually looking for leaders who are willing to help coordinate NetCAT programs. As the NetCAT coordinator you will be responsible for:

  • monitoring progress of development and preparing NetCAT schedule
  • updating NetCAT web content mainly prior to start of the program
  • sending an invite message and promoting the program to assemble enough NetCAT participants
  • forming NetCAT tribes, finding their leaders and supporting them throughout the program
  • maintaining Synergy (users, tribes and test runs) to have development builds fully tested and Release Candidate build certified
  • watching quality status and progress of stabilization through JIRA bug dashboard and discussions on NetCAT mailing list
  • if needed encouraging higher participation in the program by writing weekly status reports, organizing online meetings, creating online surveys etc.
  • creating final Community Acceptance survey, processing and publishing its results
  • helping get the approval from necessary Apache NetBeans stakeholders for the release
  • closing the program by creating satisfaction survey among NetCAT participants, evaluating their activity and announcing the best contributors

If you feel you could do the tasks above and you can afford dedicating between 2 and 5 hours weekly to NetCAT coordination, please let us know!

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