04 September 2008

JetBrains has a very transparent development process

I’ve been using ReSharper for some time, and I think it is a great add-on to Visual Studio. I’m working on a presentation and a demo of ReSharper and dotTrace for our next NNUG meeting in Trondheim on September 25, so I’m not going to discuss any features just jet. But I want to share something I really like about JetBrains, and that’s how they handle their development process and their relationship with the community.

The first version of ReSharper I tried was an early version of ReSharper 3.1, which I got through their early access program (EAP). This program allows users to download betas, release candidates and even nightly builds of the software. These builds have trial licenses that are renewed throughout the program, so if you're interesting in evaluating and maybe help improve the next version this is a great way to start. One thing you should note is that some of the nightly builds may contain serious bugs, but if you stick with the official betas, release candidates or the builds that have passed JetBrains' tests you should have a pretty easy ride. Neither ReSharper nor dotTrace have an active EAP today, but I expect new programs to start in time fore the next main releases.

Even if you can't download any early software right now, you can still submit requests for what you want to see in the next version. This is done through JetBrains JIRA, which is used to track various issues. Here we can submit suggestions and vote for those we think is most important to us. The issue tracker is also used for bug tracking, and whenever ReSharper encounters an error you get the option to automatically submit the exception to JetBrains JIRA. I've submitted a couple of exceptions that I got during editing of MSBuild project files, and I am able to track them through JIRA. None of them is fixed yet, but I hope JetBrains will consider them for the next release.

JetBrains also has a blog and various forums for their products, but  I think it's the EAP and public issue tracker that separates JetBrains from other developers. Microsoft Connect is a similar web site, and I think more companies should do the same and open up to their communities. This will at least make me trust the companies more, and it's much easier for me to recommend tools from such vendors.

Check out JetBrains' Community Center for more information about their community commitment.

Disclosure: JetBrains will provide me with a ReSharper and dotTrace license after my talk at NNUG, but they are in no way influencing what I think of the products or what I share with you on this blog or in my presentation.

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