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Geertjan's Blog

Live Interview with Sang Shin, Sun Evangelist

Geertjan Wielenga
Product Manager
It is half an hour before the start of NetBeans Day in Madrid. Right next to me, on the stage, overlooking a sea of empty chairs, is javapassion.com's very own Sang Shin. By the way, here's a pic that Gregg Sporar took of the interview as it was happening:

Me: Sang, what's javapassion.com all about?

Sang: In a word, it is about sharing and exchanging knowledge about Java technology. It's become a big sized community where people come to and share and exchange, starting from basic Java all the way to sophisticated and advanced technologies, such as AJAX and Java and web tier frameworks and EJB 3.0, and things like that. It turned out to be very useful for people starting to learn Java technology, at the same time for people who want to enhance their kn owledge of leading edge Java technology as well.

Me: So, I could actually take a course for free at javapassion.com?

Sang: Exactly. The model that started javapassion.com is almost like open sourcing of a learning process. The reason that I think it has become popular is because it provides a structure, in a sense a step by step structure, for learning Java technology. Almost like a college curriculum. In a sense, it is based on a college course.

Me: So, it's just you all on your own?

Sang: No, myself and a lot of community members are participating to make the courses possible and successful. I play the role of co-ordinating many of the community activiites on javapassion.com.

Me: What does a typical course consist of?

Sang: So, each week people will read the presentation slides, which contain very detailed speaker notes. And they will do homework. And these homeworks are, I think, a value add to this course compared to other self-study contents out there. Because people learn Java technology by actually writing and building and testing their code in this course. And if they have a problem, the community helps each other to solve the problem. It's worked out pretty good.

Me: Where does your material come from?

Sang: Much of my material comes from my own studying of the contents and in fact my job is to talk about Java technologies. So I have to create many of these contents and so the same contents are kind of posted to javapassion.com.

Me: How many people have taken your courses?

Sang: I'm teaching, at the moment, three on-line courses. "J2EE Programming with Passion" course started about 4 years ago and we have about 25,000 people who have registered for this course over those 4 years. Right now we have 6,200 on the class alias. Other courses ("Web Services Programming" and "Java Intro Programming"), we have about 2,000 and 1,500 people on the class aliases.

Me: Sang, you keep saying "we", who is "we"?

Sang: Myself, and I have a co-instructor on these courses, Sean Dockery, and we have a few other members who help and lead these courses.

Me: So I enroll for one of your courses. How do you decide whether I have fulfilled the requirements and receive...

Sang: ...Sang's personal certificate?

Me: Yes.

Sang: An attendee has to submit all homeworks and I know it is a lot of work. Some people told me they had to spend the whole weekend to finish a weekly homework assignment. But, usually I design the homework to be about 3 to 6 hours per week.

Me: When does your next course begin?

Sang: The 10th session of J2EE programming started March 2nd, the other two courses will start in June this year.

Me: Sang, I saw you delivering some presentations here, in Madrid, during the Sun Tech Days. Can you tell us something about that experience?

Sang: My job at Sun is basically evangelizing Sun's key technologies, including Java and Solaris, and Sun's tools such as NetBeans. I'm very excited at the moment about the momentum these technologies have. Java has been around over 10 years and I feel we have a lot further to go.

Me: Final question... what's your take on NetBeans IDE 5.0?

Sang: Ah, it's just amazing. I'm using in my courses and people really love the experience they have with the NetBeans IDE.

Me: Final, final question... what are your favorite features in NetBeans IDE 5.0?

Sang: Actually, there are several, starting with Matisse. Profiler and developer collaboration. Those three features alone make NetBeans top of the pack.

Me: Thanks and all the best with your great courses!

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