The recently published The Definitive Guide to NetBeans Platform (Apress, June 2009) was unique in that the English translation was done by a volunteer team of NetBeans Platform community members. And they completed the project of translating a 400 page German book to English within one month!
In the first of a series of interviews with the translation team, you meet Stefan Flemming who talks about his background in programming, interest in NetBeans, and involvement in the translation project.
Who are you and how did you get into programming?
My name is Stefan Alexander Flemming and I am a 28 years old PhD student, living and working in Berlin but studying in the UK.
I started programming quite a long time ago. I remember that my father promised to get me a computer once I'd written my first working program. My desire was so strong that I started, age 5, to write a program in Logo... a language that should have allowed even children to write programs, but was too complicated for me. Age 6, before l even learned to read and write, I started transcribing the listings of my father's C64 handbooks word by word... and successfully manipulated and changed these files until my father accepted that this was my first basic program!
From that time on, I learned multiplication tables, vocabulary, and so on, via my own programs. In 1999 I switched from C to Java for nearly all of my projects and in 2005 I finished my studies in technical informatics. This year I will finish my PhD thesis, which covers distributed instrument control in research environments.
Why did you get involved in translating this book, what did you translate, and how was the process?
I'm a big fan of the NetBeans IDE and NetBeans Platform and use them in my daily work and for all my projects. Unfortunately, there is not much time beside my PhD and so there is not enough time to support NetBeans in the way I would like.
Translating a chapter for NetBeans and participating in the NetCat Program are my current attempts to give something back to the community. My translation chapter was "Chapter 7 - File Access and Display". Apart from the fact that I had to put a lot of energy into my PhD thesis, I think I progressed quite well, although there were only a few hours each night that I was able to spend on it.
Are you using the NetBeans Platform yourself and, if so, in what context?
Yes, I'm using the NetBeans Platform. It is used for the client of my instrument control software "Open Inspire", which will be released into the open source this year. "Open Inspire" is an application container, specifically designed to perform distributed control processes. It comes with an inversion control container that is configured similar to the Spring framework.
The NetBeans Platform is used to wire instrument contexts using the Visual Library, for the configuration of the container and for monitoring process data.
For the development work, the NetBeans IDE has been extended to support the complex component based "Open Inspire" module system.
What are a few things you learned about the NetBeans Platform from translating the book?
I think translating the book gave me a deeper insight into technical writing, which helps me writing my PhD thesis in a more professional way.
Reading the examples again and translating them showed me patterns of the Lookup system that I did not realize before and was even able to carry over to my own developments.
Why should everyone buy this book?
It is, in my opinion, the best NetBeans Platform book in the market at this point in time. And, in contrast to the German version, it has even been updated to NetBeans Platform 6.5.
Whenever I have a problem, it is a good source to begin finding solutions.
Thanks Stefan and all the best with your PhD thesis!