NetBeans Day - holy cow!
I just finished up an article on NetBeans Day for the JavaOne Today, the conference's daily newsletter. It was fun trying to sound like a newspaper reporter, but now I want to reinsert my own voice into the proceedings, and I'll start with one word.
There were the announcements (collaboration plugins, Matisse, new refactoring) and the stats (550 people or so attending according to Greg Sporar, who also has a recap). But beyond that I was impressed by how focused the attendees were. I figured that since it was a free event, there would be a lot of people popping their heads in and out. Easy come, easy go. But no. It was standing room only at the beginning and standing room only at the end. Check out some photos here.
At one point, Tim Boudreau was talking in front of 150-200 people about plugin module development and digging into some API details. I cringed, figuring that most of the people there were IDE users and not particularly interested in adding to the IDE or building with the platform. I was waiting for the awkward mass exodus of people suddenly finding a need for a drink of water or a walk on Market St. But it never came. People stuck with him and had a ton of questions. I imagine the BOFs that the NetBeans team are doing at JavaOne will be similarly popular.
I don't think anybody on the team was really prepared for the in-person developer response yesterday. At this time last year, 3.6 was the current release and we were just beginning to publicize and sell users on vast changes to the IDE's project workflow. Replacing the 3.x "filesystems" concept with the 4.x Ant-based project system was a big risk for us, but one we felt we needed to take to avoid sinking into irrelevance. People were curious about our new direction, but were taking a wait and see approach.
Since then, we've seen a huge increase in our download numbers and some great press, which tells us that we're on the right track. But there is no more gratifying validation than seeing the excitement of real users in person.