Why I'm Proud of the NetBeans Community Awards
A couple of weeks ago, at NetBeans Day in San Francisco, we gave out awards for outstanding contribution to the community. The winners got a framed Duke poster...and a really nice workstation. Credit for the workstation idea goes to James Gosling - he was the one who said "Let's give them each a box." I don't have the kind of pull to be able to say that and have it actually happen, but when you're James Gosling, well, you do. I was really thrilled that we went way beyond the "thanks, here's a t-shirt" kind of thing.
The recipients were Vincent Brabant, Maxym Mykhalchuk, Manfred Reim, Bruno Souza, and Rich Unger. Rich, Vincent and Bruno I've met personally; all of them I've known on the NetBeans mailing lists for a long time. Vincent did a huge amount of work localizing both NetBeans and the NetBeans web site in French, and getting the translatedfiles project off the ground; Maxym did similar things for the Russian translation of NetBeans, and manages the Russian language NetBeans mailing list, and contributed code to make mnemonics work in Russian; Rich contributed the FeedReader tutorial on building plug-ins, the "cluster harness" for building NetBeans platform-based applications in 4.0 and 4.1; Manfred Reim localized the platform in Dutch; Bruno Souza has done amazing things for popularizing NetBeans in Brazil. Vincent, Maxym and Rich have all been members of the NetBeans governance board in the past; all have been involved in the community in one way or another for years.
There's a really important thing here: We gave awards to individuals - people who made an outstanding contribution to the project, by getting involved and doing real, and really good work. Of the five, only Rich works for a company that has anything to do with NetBeans. An open source project is about people - and it's the inspiration, perspiration and talent of the participants in the project that make it successful. If we'd been giving awards to companies that built plug-ins or built applications on NetBeans, it would have been a nice little PR-fest (and maybe we should do that at some point) - but I don't think I would have been as thrilled as I was seeing real people that I've known on our mailing lists for years, that I've known were doing outstanding things, receive a big thank-you. It's individuals that do the work - a community is made up of people - and I'm glad that in five years of open source NetBeans, we've never lost sight of that.