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Developer-Friendly Transparency
Sun Microsystems is realizing the benefits of opening up development resources to outside developers

April 6, 2006

Sun Microsystems announced recently two new programs aimed specifically at developers that offer the latest services in their much broader efforts to make development of their platforms, tools, and programs transparent to the outside developer community. The Sun Developer Expert Assistance Program is a per-incident support offering that is now available. For a fee of $99 per incident, a developer can get a guaranteed response to a coding question within 24 hours. According to Jean Elliott, director of developer marketing at Sun, the company has in the past offered similar support in a variety of channels, from active forums on the Sun Developer Network (SDN) to sophisticated professional services contracts and everything in between.


This new program, however, gives developers looking for inexpensive per-incident support the option of buying a guaranteed response time, the answer or answers to their coding question(s), or a commitment to track down the answer, depending on the complexity of the issue. Elliott said that although developers have found great support from Sun engineers and community engineers through forums, there's no guarantee of a response through those support mechanisms. For each registered incident, the support will continue until the developer is satisfied. "This program is good for help on diagnostics, getting a sanity check on your approach to the code, finding workarounds, getting guidance for best practices, and also it's a way developers can find pointers to various sample applications or helpful documentation to help them address their issues," Elliott said.

The new program's offering coincides with an overhauled SDN Web site that consolidates and better organizes all of the information on the services that are available to developers. Developers can go to the site and choose an offering that's appropriate for their price point and the complexity of what they're trying to address.

The launch of the Sun Community Champions Program is the second new offering announced recently by Sun. This program, which according to Elliott is a natural extension of the Java Champions Project on the Java.net site, offers developers doing interesting projects with Sun's software products and technologies beyond just Java a chance to be recognized for their work. The recognition is not only a way for Sun to thank them, but it gives developers an opportunity to serve as role models for other developers.

Two-Way Feedback
These two programs are the recent results of a larger, nearly yearlong effort to coordinate Sun's platforms, programs, tools, and community and provide developers the transparency necessary for them to benefit from Sun's development as well as provide feedback on that development. The primary objective, according to Elliott, is to ensure there are interesting software applications that are at least consistent, if not optimized for, Sun's software and hardware architectures. To achieve that goal Sun needs to attract developers to its tools, technologies, platforms, and programs to inspire them to create those applications. The effort also culminated from Sun's leadership realizing that in the past there have been some inconsistencies, whether there was incompatible tools support for Sun's platforms; stale content; or services, documentation, or training not being made available when developers really needed it.

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