Filing Issues: The Simplest Way To Influence NetBeans IDE

One of the best things about delivering NetBeans Platform courses is the direct interaction you have with developers using NetBeans IDE. Each and every time I'm delivering a course several of the conversations I end up in go like this:

NetBeans User: NetBeans IDE is really cool, I've become really very productive very quickly.

Me: Great!

NetBeans User: However, there's always a few things that are not optimal, of course.

Me: Oh? Such as what?

NetBeans User: Well, the world isn't perfect, so there'll always be a few things that other IDEs have that NetBeans IDE doesn't.

Me: Such as what? Can you give a concrete example?

NetBeans User: Well... in Eclipse... whenever I type a return statement that conflicts with the method signature... the IDE tells me there's a conflict and helps to resolve that conflict too. NetBeans IDE doesn't do that.

Me: Oh, really? That's interesting. Why don't we file a bug in NetBeans Issuezilla? NetBeans IDE isn't cast in stone, after all, and if there's anything missing, you simply need to file an issue and then we can track that issue. Without someone filing the issue, you can be pretty sure that it will never get fixed.

NetBeans User: Well... OK... I'm assuming issues in Issuezilla are ignored or that there aren't actually people on the other side of Issuezilla or that something as small as what I'm missing isn't going to be taken seriously... so I've never actually filed an issue...

Me: Well, just take a few minutes and just do so... you might be very pleasantly surprised. Moreover, the people on the other side of NetBeans Issuezilla are extremely keen to know your issues and fix your problems to make NetBeans IDE the best IDE in the Java world.

The particular implementation of the generic template, i.e., the implementation above, was executed a few weeks ago during a NetBeans Platform course in Aachen. Here is the issue that the NetBeans User above, Jens Hofschröer, filed.

And today I updated my checkout of the NetBeans sources, built them, and... take a look. Here's a method I typed:


Then, later on, I type a return statement and now the IDE (1) informs me there's a conflict between the method signature and the return type and (2) offers to fix the conflict for me:

And, guaranteed 100%, the above would not be in the upcoming 7.1 release if it weren't for the fact that Jens Hofschröer had taken a few minutes to file an issue.

The moral of the story is clear. If you're missing some feature, no matter how small it is (especially if it is something small and extremely helpful like the above), just go to NetBeans Issuezilla and file an issue.

And, if you're getting no response at all, feel free to leave a comment at the end of this particular blog entry (make sure to include the issue number) and I will personally see what I can do to expedite your particular suggestion for improvement of NetBeans IDE.

Comments:

Where is the yes place to ask if you are not sure if NetBeans has a feature (or do we just file an issue here)?

I would really like a simple Indent (without reformat). Eclipse and IDEA have it but I can't find it in NetBeans.

Posted by mark stephens on August 02, 2011 at 05:25 AM PDT #

I totally agree about the importance of filing bug reports. In general, I've found the NetBeans team *very* responsive to most of the issues I've filed -- especially when they're accompanied by a patch.

You've made a very kind offer to follow up on issues which have been filed but never implemented, Geertjan. Here are some of mine:

http://netbeans.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=157152

http://netbeans.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=153725

http://netbeans.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=176314

http://netbeans.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=198529

http://netbeans.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=198530

The first three describe pretty simple IDE features (I thought I described them pretty well, but will be glad to clarify any if needed). The last two have to do with the platform's continued expansion of the number of modules in the clusters and the possibly unnecessary dependencies between them. From a platform developer's perspective, having small and well-defined clusters with the minimal number of dependencies is a feature too.

Posted by guest on August 02, 2011 at 06:28 AM PDT #

You could start with these.

There are over 200 issues in the category Java/Unsupported that were closed on 2010-09-23 for the following reason:

"I am closing all reports in category Java/Unsupported as wontfix. These should
be dead issues --- if the reported cases are against some live part of the
NetBeans IDE please reopen and we can discuss to which category they belong."

For the issue http://netbeans.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=190190 , the conversation continued...

------- Comment #2 From _ dstrupl 2010-09-23 09:16:01 (-) [reply] -------

I am closing all reports in category Java/Unsupported as wontfix. These should
be dead issues --- if the reported cases are against some live part of the
NetBeans IDE please reopen and we can discuss to which category they belong.

....

------- Comment #3 From Mikael_B@netbeans.org 2010-09-23 11:51:29 (-) [reply] -------

What do you mean wontfix?

So what are we supposed to do to collect input from people that need a specific
technologiy, that formerly only have been partially supported in a plugin?

....

------- Comment #5 From _ dstrupl 2010-09-23 12:34:39 (-) [reply] -------

By wontfix I mean that nobody from the current NetBeans team paid by Oracle is
going to address this. It means considerable effort that we are not going to
pay for. We are sorry but we cannot do everything. If you find someone who will
implement it please reopen and assign to such person. Otherwise please leave
the issue as resolved. Thanks for your understanding.

-----------

The URL is a link to the advanced search that will show these 200+ issues.

Posted by guest on August 02, 2011 at 06:36 AM PDT #

@Mark Stephens, just file an issue. If it's already there, you'll be told as much by someone responding. Please do first make a good effort to see whether the issue is already resolved.

@guest1, I'll look into it.

@guest2, you've already received your response: "By wontfix I mean that nobody from the current NetBeans team paid by Oracle is going to address this. It means considerable effort that we are not going to pay for. We are sorry but we cannot do everything. If you find someone who will implement it please reopen and assign to such person. Otherwise please leave
the issue as resolved. Thanks for your understanding."

Posted by Geertjan on August 02, 2011 at 08:20 AM PDT #

Since you asked, this bug is annoying me a lot:

http://netbeans.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=194926

The bugzilla entry has not seen any activity since 2011-01-31.

Posted by Jörn Horstmann on August 02, 2011 at 09:02 AM PDT #

1) You write a blog post asking people to suggest improvements to NetBeans in Issuezilla.

2) I point out that on 2010-09-23 over 200+ exact such suggestions were indiscriminately closed ("I am closing all reports").

3) You say I have received my response by saying "nobody from the current NetBeans team paid by Oracle is going to address this."

I guess that means in a few months any new suggestions will also indiscriminately be closed without evaluation.

Honestly - what is the difference between those suggestions and any new ones?

You could have responded by saying that at that time Oracle was not willing to devote the resources to fixing those problems but that things have changed. I guess such a simple and honest answer that addresses the question didn't occur to you because it's not true?

You're right, we have received our response.

Posted by guest2 on August 02, 2011 at 09:12 AM PDT #

Issuezilla needs a better UI. At least for submitting issues.

Posted by btilford on August 02, 2011 at 02:35 PM PDT #

I think that this is the sort of thing where the community needs to step up more and play more of an active roll in getting things done in NetBeans in terms of submitting patches, since the Oracle funded development efforts appear to be very focussed on what they and their whips perceive to be valuable.

Even if the Oracle paid developers want to do everything, there's still limited resources, and hard choices have to be made.

It would be great if everyone that ran into an issue had the knowledge of the inner workings of netbeans to be able to provide a patch, but, that is just not the case - there's a substantial learning curve to be traversed, and not everyone has the time availability to traverse it.

Geertjan, perhaps if more resources were put into documenting and providing a bigger leg up on how to provide patches, it would pay off in the long run to everyone's benefit.

Posted by guest on August 02, 2011 at 03:07 PM PDT #

I'm sorry, I am no longer going to accept any comments in this blog from people named "guest". Right now, I have no way to communicate with 90% of the respondents above. So, from this point onwards, if you leave a comment in this blog and your name is "guest", your comment will simply not be published. (Same goes for "guest2" and anything else that resembled "guest", e.g., "anonymous".)

Posted by Geertjan on August 02, 2011 at 05:15 PM PDT #

How to provide patches is documented:

http://netbeans.org/community/contribute/patches.html

How to create plugins and extend NetBeans IDE is also documented:

http://wiki.netbeans.org/NetBeansDeveloperFAQ

Posted by Geertjan on August 02, 2011 at 05:17 PM PDT #

Hi Geertjan

I liked the article, having submited a patch for a bug and had it added to NetBeans it really isn't difficult but my issue come down to the lack of response even when you have provided a patch. Would be great if I could get feedback on this issue http://j.mp/qCYHpr.

Thanks

David

Posted by David Beer on August 02, 2011 at 10:14 PM PDT #

As a result of posting as a bug I have been able to learn that indentation (without formatting) is NetBeans, but hidden away. Here is the detail. Thanks for the info

-----
This feature is already implemented, but is has no default key shortcut.

See Tools -> Options -> Keymap and search for Re-indent Current Line or
Selection action. You can assign shortcut here.
-----

Posted by mark stephens on August 03, 2011 at 12:13 AM PDT #

Geertjan, the documentation you point to for how to submit patches - contains at least one error - the sample command line does not match up with the description that follows it.

ie: the command line uses -g option, but the documentation refers to use of -git options - which is right?

also, is the documentation still current or does it need to be updated?

I have an interest in OpenESB.

I see that for netbeans up to 6.9.1, OpenESB used a directory called 'sierra' which was something that was part of the netbeans source in order to build the plugins.

this 'sierra' is either no longer part of netbeans 7.0.x or has been moved somewhere else. can you tell me what the story is please, and what the process should be to build OpenESB netbeans add-ons now?

Posted by Peter Belbin on August 03, 2011 at 12:54 AM PDT #

Thanks for the comments. Some of you should have seen that there are now comments in the issues that you referred to. Others of you will not see your comments here at all, which is because you added a comment here under the name "guest". I'll say it again: if you leave comments in my blog under "guest" or "anonymous" or anything at all like that, I will simply not publish your comment.

Posted by Geertjan on August 03, 2011 at 01:46 AM PDT #

For some reason, the Post a Comment form submitted me as "guest" even when I signed my name, email, and Web site. Maybe it is because I previewed my post before I submitted and it didn't store my info after the preview? I'll try again:

I have been using NetBeans lately since it is now the best free PHP editor in the world. However, I want to develop my own fonts and colors themes, because the default themes are ugly. I have spent hours on Google and looked all over the NetBeans site and cannot find information on where this theme file is located.

Obviously, I am not going to develop an entire theme through the fonts and colors dialogue box, because it is difficult. I want to get at the root file. I figure it must be in an XML file somewhere. But, where is it located? I want to develop a theme and distribute it to help other NetBeans users.

Is there even documentation on changing the fonts and colors anywhere on the NetBeans site? And I'm not talking about the look and feel. I'm talking about the colors of the code in the editor.

Posted by Eli McMakin on August 03, 2011 at 05:37 AM PDT #

How about this: I filed http://netbeans.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=197502, the fix is a one line of changed code (and I suggested it), but it does not seem anybody looked at it at all.

Posted by Jirka on August 03, 2011 at 11:43 PM PDT #

https://netbeans.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=200938
Selecting the position of the generated getter/setter.
Nothing so far, thought I'd ping you to see if I placed the damn thing in the wrong category.

:-)

Posted by Christian on September 23, 2011 at 07:49 PM PDT #

Hi Jirka, #197502 is making progress now.

Posted by Ernest on October 10, 2011 at 02:29 AM PDT #

... and now #197502 (see http://netbeans.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=197502) has been resolved, should be coming up in a next nightly build.

Posted by Ernest on October 12, 2011 at 12:09 AM PDT #

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About

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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