Frequently Asked Questions about NetCAT


What is the basic purpose of NetCAT?

Simply put, the goal of this program is to get active NetBeans community members involved in testing the NetBeans IDE development builds. Participants will provide feedback on product usability, quality and performance. In return, these volunteers are given an opportunity to significantly influence the quality of NetBeans IDE. It is important to stress though that the NetCAT program is about quality acceptance and not about feature design.

How can I participate in this program?

If you have experience with software development and would like to help NetBeans become the best IDE, simply fill out the registration form and also subscribe to netcat@netbeans.org mailing list after submission of the registration form via "Subscribe" button. If you do not register via the signup form, you will not be considered as NetCAT participant and you will not profit from special privileges like direct editing of Wiki pages or direct access to Bugzilla through Exceptions Reporter. Also your activity will not be monitored and you will not be entitled to receiving any recognition in the end.

Can you describe my responsibilities if I join the program?

As a member of the NetCAT team you will be expected to provide us with feedback on the two functional areas you chose to focus on. Though it is perfectly acceptable to only evaluate the Beta and RC builds, we would truly appreciate it if you used and tested the daily development builds as well. Besides, you can utilize the simplified bug submission form, mailing list and web forum to report your experiences.

Furthermore, your input may also be requested via additional surveys or online IRC meetings during NetCAT. At the end of the program, you will be asked to submit a Community Acceptance (CA) survey where you can express your opinion as to whether or not the new main features are ready for release.

What are the NetCAT tribes?

NetCAT Tribe is a group of NetCAT participants focusing primarily on testing one particular functionality area such as Debugger, PHP or Maven. Tribe members review and keep up-to-date test specifications for their functionality area, then perform full or sanity testing and eventually provide either Go or NoGo recommendation according to a fixed schedule.

If I become a tribe leader, what will be my tasks?

The most important time for a tribe leader is when NetCAT enters the full testing phase of the new version. S/he should consider the strengths amongst his/her tribe members and distribute the functionality to be tested accordingly among those tribe members who agree to the full testing. The full testing takes several weeks. During that period tribe leader should check progress with individual members, keep them motivated until the end of the full testing, help them resolve potential issues along this struggle and communicate with NetCAT coordinator, particularly when obstacles arise. This coordination could take an hour or two every week.

Tribe leaders should perform tasks similar to the above during certifications of milestone builds (Beta, RC, FCS). However, these certification periods are each just a few days long.

Additionally, it is much appreciated if tribe leaders organize a review of the test specifications their tribe will use and together try to update these if time permits before Beta.

Are there any benefits for me?

Yes. The opinions you voice are treated with care. You have a chance to influence which bugs get fixed or to speak up via the CA survey where you can describe your satisfaction with newly added features. If 10% or more of CA survey respondents identify a particular bug as a showstopper, the bug must be fixed before FCS.

Last but not least, we watch activity of all NetCAT team members and all participants with 20 or more activity points get official Participant Recognition Certificate from us! In addition to that 3 top contributors get a recommendation in LinkedIn.com.

What is already covered by NetBeans QA?

We typically perform full testing on two latest stable versions of JDK and acceptance testing on upcoming JDK + OpenJDK. Besides, we usually test NetBeans IDE on the latest stable versions of the following operating systems: Windows, Ubuntu, Mac OS X, OpenSolaris/Solaris and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The testing is done according to particular module test specifications.

What do RC, CA or FCS mean?

Abbreviation Explanation
RC Release Candidate build
CA Community Acceptance program name
FCS RC build that has been accepted as First Customer Ship
FF Feature Freeze milestone i.e. no new features development beyond that date
HR High Resistance period when only high priority bugs (P1, P2) can be fixed
CF Code Freeze milestone which declares codebase as ready for the first RC build

What HW disqualifies participation in the program?

Your HW platform is not important, however, please familiarise yourself with the requirements of the NetBeans IDE. Besides, note that IDE's minimum screen resolution is 1024x768 pixels. Recommended hardware configuration is Intel Core i5 or equivalent with 4 GB RAM and 1.5 GB of free disk space.

How is activity of NetCAT participants monitored?

Both NetBeans engineers and NetCAT program coordinator will watch NetCAT team and evaluate individual members by their activity on the mailing list and web forum, number and quality of bug reports, number of reviewed tutorials, number of contributed patches, number of completed surveys and other types of feedback. In the end of the program NetBeans engineers will select top contributors by simple voting process.

Should I test development or certified builds of NetBeans?

We would really appreciate it if you could download the latest development builds whenever you can because official milestone builds get out-of-date very quickly. The daily builds will allow you to verify that your problems were really fixed or still remain unfixed. It's not necessary to download new build every day but 2-3 days period sounds like a good compromise. You might also consider keeping the last stable build in case the latest daily one is seriously broken.

If publishing on http://bits.netbeans.org gets broken, please use http://deadlock.netbeans.org as a backup source of daily builds.

How many CAT points do I get for this and that?

We monitor activity of all NetCAT participants throughout the program and reward the most active and helpful ones based on their contribution i.e. number of CAT points they collect. The following table lists various types of activity and explains differences in their importance by CAT points.

Type of activity Reward
1 e-mail sent 1 CAT point
1 enhancement filed 1 CAT point
1 bug reported (invalid, duplicate, incomplete, worksforme) 1 CAT point
1 bug reported (new, fixed) 3 CAT points
1 tutorial reviewed 1 CAT point for 500 score points
feature tested by test specification on 1 operating system 1 CAT point for 1 completed test case in Synergy
participation in satisfaction survey 5 CAT points
participation in community acceptance survey 10 CAT points
bug fix contributed 5 CAT points for each 5kB patch

Which build do I need to verify that my bug was fixed?

You must wait until your bug receives an automatic comment from Quality Engineering user saying something like Integrated into 'main-golden', will be available in build *201103240400* on http://bits.netbeans.org/dev/nightly/ (upload may still be in progress) and then compare the build number with build number you get via Help > About invoked from NetBeans IDE main menu. Format of build number is yyyymmddhhmm i.e. build #201103240400 is from March 24th, 2011 4:00 a.m. To verify a fix for bug #194294 you logically need this build or any other built after this date i.e. #20110325...., #20110326.... etc.

Help, I cannot edit any NetBeans Wiki page!

Firstly, in order to edit NetBeans Wiki pages you need a netbeans.org account of course. Secondly, if you have one but editing is still not possible, please contact NetCAT program coordinator as you most probably not have editing rights.

Not listed here?

Don't hesitate to ask your NetCAT program coordinator Jiri Kovalsky!

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