Appendix E. Working with Open Source and NetBeans

Many interesting texts are available on the value, philosophy, and practices of open source software development, so we’ll stick to some practical advice and tips for working effectively in the NetBeans project.


Any community functions according to stated or unstated contracts between its participants. In the case of NetBeans, these “contracts” are relatively lightweight. To participate effectively in a community, it is helpful to know what the typical behavior patterns are. Read on to learn how NetBeans works as an open source project.


The NetBeans project has a “governance board” that can vote and make decisions if there is some irreconcilable problem. It is composed of two members chosen by the user and developer community on the mailing lists and one member appointed by Sun Microsystems, which donated the initial source code and sponsors the project. The governance board is the choice of last resort. As of this writing, it has never had to decide an issue. It exists to ensure that no party can hijack the project or cause NetBeans to evolve specifically in its private interest at the expense of others or the health of the project and code.

Heavyweight governance, with committees, hierarchies, and chairpeople is notably absent from the NetBeans project. The authors of this book were two of the individuals who set up the initial site and governance process, and we strongly believe that it is far better to evolve ...

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