Saturday Aug 16, 2008

Thanks Sandip!

Some pretty bad news—Sandip Chitale, one of the key players in the popularization of the NetBeans Platform, has left Sun. Although he never worked in any official capacity in relation to the NetBeans Platform, his contributions were really significant:

  • His blog is a rich mine for anyone interested in the NetBeans Platform. Unlike virtually everyone else, he didn't only write about the plugins he created, but he provided LOTS of code that others could learn from. Over the years, in particular when the official documentation was a lot more sparse than it is now, his blog was one of the few bastions of clear reference materials for the NetBeans Platform.

    Most recently, I learned a lot from his entries relating to the extendability of the NetBeans Java editor. In fact, nowhere in the world is there more info on this than in his blog! Here's a list of some of them for anyone interested in the NetBeans Java editor:

    Fortunately his blog will continue to exist and will continue being a central resource for countless interesting NetBeans API problems. I know I'll keep going back to it, there's so many things I haven't had the time to look into yet.

  • Several NetBeans Platform tutorials could not have been written without Sandip. A clear example is the NetBeans Java Language Infrastructure Tutorial, which is the starting point for anyone wanting to learn about the NetBeans Java editor. I wrote it, based completely on one of Sandip's modules! Not only that: the entire introduction to that tutorial comes verbatim from an e-mail he sent me when I wanted to know how the Retouche APIs fit with the previous JMI approach underpinning the editor. Aside from clear fingerprints such as these, he's also reviewed countless tutorials, in particular when I first started writing them and didn't have much of a clue about what it was all about.

  • His helpfulness on the mailing list also goes back several years. There have been many periods in time when Sandip was one of the only people responding to questions that users sent to the mailing list. And he was able to answer questions on a very wide range of topics, because he'd implemented the NetBeans APIs both in his own work-related projects as well as in his own hobby-like experimental modules. Aside from his helpfulness on the mailing lists, I've always found him to be very helpful and responsive to any questions I've sent him directly. Often he'd write back with just one or two lines referring to classes that might be useful in solving whatever problem I had at the time—exactly enough info for me to continue my own investigations from there.

  • On top of all that, most of Rich Client Programming: Plugging into the NetBeans Platform could not have been written without him. He patiently and with infinite care reviewed most of the 2nd half (most of it mine) over and over again. And I still have all the notes to prove it!

  • Also, in particular around the early days of NetBeans Plugin tooling being introduced (i.e., NetBeans IDE 5.0), Sandip played an incredible role in evangelizing the NetBeans Platform. One of the first technical interviews I ever did was this one with Sandip. In it, note these words:

    In other words, Sandip very successfully introduced James Gosling to the practical side of working with the NetBeans Platform. If that isn't a significant contribution, I don't know what is. Maybe his hands-on-lab at JavaOne two (or three?) years ago? A room full of new people to the NetBeans Platform, guided through some pretty challenging modules, overseen by Sandip and a few others, but all based on modules that Sandip himself had written.

Now, look again at all the above and then do a search on the NetBeans Wiki for "Sandip". Here, I did it for you. Notice something? Sandip's function was, all along, a senior engineer in the web area (Creator, then Visual Web, and then various other web-things, such as analyzing ways in which the IDE might integrate an embedded browser). He never had an official function in the NetBeans Platform area, yet his contribution is immeasurable. (In the IDE itself, he contributed far too much to mention, but as you can read here whenever you move or copy a line up/down, you should quietly say "thanks Sandip!" to yourself.)

So, wherever Sandip is going, they're very lucky to have him! Thanks for everything Sandip and hope to run into you again soon.


Geertjan Wielenga (@geertjanw) is a Principal Product Manager in the Oracle Developer Tools group living & working in Amsterdam. He is a Java technology enthusiast, evangelist, trainer, speaker, and writer. He blogs here daily.

The focus of this blog is mostly on NetBeans (a development tool primarily for Java programmers), with an occasional reference to NetBeans, and sometimes diverging to topics relating to NetBeans. And then there are days when NetBeans is mentioned, just for a change.


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