Two Down, Two To Go!
By Geertjan on Feb 14, 2006
So I kicked off the training while John phoned the Elluminate people to solve his problem. Meantime, I had been dumb enough to remove my own privileges, so that I was unable to load my presentation into Elluminate. (Sivia, who is our Elluminate contact person, said that she had never heard of someone having a "greyed out Load > WhiteBoard menu item", which tells me that no moderator has ever removed his/her own priviliges before. Does that make me the dumbest Elluminate moderator on earth? Discuss.)
Anyway, once we were both up and running (instead of down and desperate), things went quite smoothly. It's a very enjoyable experience for everyone concerned, once you get into it. The students (i.e., all Java instructors) on the course were in Sweden, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Germany (judging from their e-mail addresses). I got the feeling that gradually, thoughout the day, they started digging NetBeans IDE more and more (or maybe it was just that I relaxed more and more). We got more done than yesterday, despite the big delay at the start. (But that was also because I left out the code completion section because I hadn't reconfigured Elluminate in time to override its keyboard shortcut key definition which is mapped to some functionality within Elluminate, so that there is a clash between them causing code completion to fail in the IDE when it is loaded in Elluminate. Gregg had the same problem—and solved it by working out the whole thing with the keyboard shortcut, which was excellent sleuthing; unfortunately I haven't benefited from it yet.)
There were some interesting questions that came up though:
- Expansion key for code templates. Wouldn't it be GREAT if you could set your own expansion key for expanding abbreviations to code templates (instead of being forced to select one of the four that the IDE provides)? So, what if I want the expansion key to be "p-9-Enter" (which would be awkward, but is just an example). People like being given a choice, even if they never make use of it. In a course, it sounds good when the instructor can say: "And, instead of SPACE, you can choose any combination of keys that you want." Currently, you can't say that.
- Setting the IDE's fontsize on Mac. One of the little exercises that the students get is that they're told to change the IDE's fontsize in the etc/netbeans.conf file. They're told to put --fontsize 13 there. But, apparently, based on feedback from users on the course (at least one, possibly two), this didn't work for them and the suspicion was that this is Mac-related. I didn't know the answer, but I wonder if it is true and if so if that can be fixed somehow.
- Downloadable ZIP files for source code in quick starts. It was pretty cool to see people using a quick starts that I maintain and update myself—the Quick Start Guide for Web Applications. But, someone working on the Quick Start Guide for Enterprise Applications asked that we provide downloadable ZIP files of the applications that you build in the quick start. That way, when there are problems, you'd be able to inspect the code.
- Documentation error in the Help. In a topic called "Setting Code Completion Shortcuts", the user is told to find the actions for code completion in the "Edit" folder in the KeyMaps. That should be the "Other" folder instead. (When he remapped his keyboard shortcut for code completion, he solved his code completion problem. That's something that could be added to the "Configuring and Troubleshooting" section of this course.)
- Hippie completion and the Help. What is popularly known as "hippie completion" (originally from Emacs) is called "word matching" in the IDE's Help. I think, therefore, that someone typing in "hippie" in the Help will assume that the IDE doesn't support hippie completion. Therefore, I think there should be some indication somewhere that "word matching" is also known as "hippie completion" (and there should be an index marker for hippie completion for the same reason.
- Default window position option. I demonstrated how easily you can redesign the layout of the IDE by drag-and-dropping, for example, the Files window so that it appears next to the Projects window (which is handy if you want to work with your build.xml file in a standard project). (By the way, this drag and dropping of windows, as well as a little demo of the "left sliding side" was very highly appreciated by several of the participants. I think that that the flexibility of the windowing system is a great feature that people really take to.) However, wouldn't it be cool if there was an option or checkbox that you could select, to return all the windows back to the default position? I'd definitely find that a useful thing.
- Is there integration with... In a presentation like this, there are always people asking: "Is there integration with XYZ?" It's interesting to see what people ask for. Today the following three were asked about: Subversion, Maven, and Jikes. In all cases, I indicated that I didn't know for sure (which is true), but that there definitely is work being done on integration of Subversion.
And those were the only notes I made today, so those were the only genuine sticking points. All in all a good experience, despite the confusion at the start (which is inevitable with a product of this nature). There were a lot of smileys and clapping hand symbols at the end of the day, so I think the participants had a pretty good time. At some point I felt a bit like a DJ, announcing the next slide like it was a new track being put in the CD player... That was funny.
And now we're just hanging out, recovering from the day, before jetting of to London. The plane leaves at 21.10 and the taxi should be arriving 10 minutes from now. It's been an interesting time in Munich, even though we didn't get a chance to see any of it...