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Posted by gsporar on March 13, 2007 at 5:21 AM PDT

St. Paul College in
St. Paul, Minnesota
has recently switched over to the NetBeans
for teaching Java courses. They apparently teach Java to quite
a few students because they consistently produce large numbers of graduates who
have passed the
Sun Certified Java Programmer exam.

The chairman of the Department of Computer Sciences is a dynamo named
. I first met Warren last year at JavaOne when
Charlie Hunt and I tagged
along for a
that Warren had with James Gosling.

Warren is one of the ring leaders for the
Minnesota Java Open Source Users Group (JOSUG) and
was kind enough to invite me to speak at their meeting on March 12. Their meetings
attract a wide cross-section of folks: students and faculty from St. Paul
College and professionals who are employed at state agencies and local companies.

So I tried to cover a spectrum of topics. I mostly did demos of features in
NetBeans IDE 5.5: the database explorer, some of the code wizards, Java EE 5
support, the HTTP monitor, the GUI builder, etc. Since the meeting took
place in a lab that had plenty of
Sun Ultra 20 workstations with the NetBeans
IDE already loaded, we spent most of the second hour working through
of the Hands On Labs that is
available out on the excellent
web site, which is run by Sang Shin.

The varying experience levels of the attendees led to a wide range of questions. The Hands
On Lab included usage of the IDE's debugger and there was more than one person who asked: "What
is a breakpoint?" At the other end of the spectrum, during a demo I did on web services someone
wanted to see the SOAP envelope that was used (since I was using the web service tester in
GlassFish, it was easy to display
it). So it was a divergent crowd, which made it more
interesting. Charlie was there to help answer questions during the Hands On Lab, so I think
we were able to cover all the questions.

Also in attendance was Tom Marble, Sun's
Ambassador for the OpenJDK.
I had never met Tom before
and I unfortunately did not have much time to chat with him. But he seems like a good guy. I
have added his blog to my feed reader.

Everyone at the meeting got a NetBeans 5.5 t-shirt thanks to the heroic efforts of
Rob Demmer, who shipped them all the way from Prague to Minnesota. Thanks Rob! :-)

After the JOSUG meeting we went to the University of St. Thomas where Charlie did
a presentation on the history of Java and the NetBeans IDE. This was setup by John
Mahowald who is one of Sun's Campus Ambassadors. These folks are student interns who
work part-time for Sun during the school year. I munched on pizza while Charlie
did most of the talking.
Once again, everyone got a t-shirt (and free pizza), so it was a success.

To wrap up the day we went back to St. Paul College for an abbreviated rerun of the presentation
I had done that morning. There were a few JOSUG members who were not able to attend the morning
session so we chatted with them in the afternoon. It was a very small crowd so I rushed through
the formal presentation and spent most of the time doing custom-crafted demos to address their
specific areas of interest. This included building a small application on the
NetBeans Platform
and using the NetBeans Profiler.
Both of those seemed to go over well, especially the profiler.

So all in all, a very productive and enjoyable trip. Special thanks goes to Robert Reagan for
coordinating all of these activites. A few photos below - click for full size.

icet.jpg The weather was great - but there is still lots of snow on the ground
wst.jpg Warren shows off his new NetBeans t-shirt
cht.jpg John and Charlie