JavaSoft unveils Developer Connection program

New online support forum provides access to Java platform development teams, programmer technical support, and more -- for a price

JavaSoft has formally unveiled its new online service for the Java developer community. The Java Developer Connection (JDC) program, originally announced in July, strives to provide developers with the support they need, and to promote continued interest and excitement in Java.

For 95 per year, Java developers get access to a password-protected Web site that features:

  • Technical support. Members may submit technical support requests, which will be handled by the next business day. Initial membership includes five free "support incidents," which are defined as a question or a set of questions related to a single programming topic in the Core Java environment. Additional support incidents may be purchased at 25 per incident (with volume discounts available).

  • Discussion Forums, which rely on a a Java chat application to allow real-time interaction (moderated and open) among JDC subscribers and JavaSoft discussion hosts.

  • Discounts on Java Series books and MageLang Institute training courses.

  • A list of events, including a schedule of discussion forum events. From this page members also have access to additional how-to material and information about discounts on training provided through Sun Educational Services.

  • Java Currents, a newsletter whose first issue features interviews, updates on some Java products, how-to information, a column in which Duke (the Java mascot) answers questions from Java developers, and some industry "gossip" from Java evangelist Miko Matsumura.

  • A Technical Docs area. "For this first release of the JDC, the technical docs area is a pointer to the documents available on our free site, java.sun.com," said Tom Chavez, who led the development of the JDC program. "In the future, this area will give members a better way to browse the online documentation, making it easy to set bookmarks, add comments, etc."

JDC subscribers also will receive a JavaOne CD-ROM packaged with additional content, including issues of JavaWorld magazine, and some other unannounced "surprises."

Keeping people involved

"Our greatest desire is to keep [developers] involved in the Java community," Chavez said. At the JavaOne developer conference in May, Chavez recalled, "people were collaborating ... there was a great feeling. We want to keep that alive" with the Developer Connection program, he said, noting that semi-annual Java conferences such as JavaOne alone won't satisfy the needs of the Java developer community.

Chavez envisions JDC as "a place where Java developers could universally share information and ideas with each other and with our Java technology teams." He anticipates the newsletter will allow JavaSoft to communicate to developers, while the discussion forums will allow two-way communications between JavaSoft and developers as well as developer-to-developer exchanges and collaboration. "We're trying to build as many collaborative tools as we can," Chavez said. This fall, the JDC will add online training and interactive tutorials. Other future features include threaded newsgroups in which JavaSoft engineers moderate and answer questions.

"The site looks good, and [JavaSoft] seems to be making a real effort to provide tech support," said JDC beta tester Maria Winslow of Prominence.Com. "Support sessions are pay-per-view, so those people who need more help will pay more, but those who need less might save a little."

Whether a significant number of Java developers are willing to pay the annual 95 fee for the JDC remains to be seen, of course. But Chavez hopes as many as 10 percent of the people (up to 100,000 per month) who download the Java Developer Kit will sign up. If this ambitious goal is met, it may be viewed as confirmation of the strength of the Java marketplace as much as affirmation of Chavez's strategy.

For more details, see The Java Developer Connection home page at http://javasoft.usec.sun.com/.

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