As a member of the NetBeans Quality Engineering team I am also responsible for the quality of the NetBeans Debugger.
I live in Bohumín, Czech Republic, and work from home 4 days a week. I am married and I have three kids and one wonderful wife.
What is NetCAT and what's it's history?
The NetCAT abbreviation stands for "NetBeans Community Acceptance Testing" which is just a fancy name for the NetBeans Beta testing program.
Its purpose is to gather volunteers from the NetBeans community who then actively test NetBeans development builds and provide timely feedback about the quality and performance throughout the stabilization phase.
NetCAT typically takes 3 months and around 100 participants join. Since its first run, in 2004. NetCAT became very popular and it's now an essential part of NetBeans releases.
To date, almost 800 volunteers participated in this Beta testing. In 2008 the GlassFish project copied NetCAT's basics and created its own clone called FishCAT. :)
What are the highlights for you of NetCAT?
The most recent thing that impressed me was the concept of "tribes". In NetCAT 7.0, we tried to divide all participants into small teams (which we call "tribes") around particular features. These teams then took part in real certification processes of milestone builds, including the final release itself!
They were given official test specifications and, after their testing, they delivered test reports and decided if the feature was ready (Go) or not ready (NoGo) for the release. This was a huge help for us, especially in times when QE team was strongly understaffed.
I was extremely impressed by the professionalism and amount of work that was contributed and it proved that the tribes approach paid off.
What kind of people are you looking for, when, what are the deadlines for the NetCAT program for NetBeans IDE 7.1?
First of all, we are looking for volunteers who can spare at least a few hours weekly to stay active from September through November 2011.
Secondly, the volunteers should be programmers (primarily Java, PHP, or C) with at least an intermediate level of knowledge. No other special skills are necessary, not even experience with NetBeans IDE! :)
When I ask the most productive NetCAT participants what their motivation for participation was, the typical answer I got was: "To make the IDE I depend on even better" and "To give something back to my favorite tool which is free" or, simply, "To learn something new!"
So if your attitude is similar, please join NetCAT 7.1!