Xcake - Web Services with Sinatra and Heroku

On Feb 8, I gave a talk at the local Xcake monthly meetup at the Science Gallery in Dublin. These meetings are predominantly loaded with mobile developers, with a worthy smattering of other creative professionals. The talk was on Web services, and how easy it can be to lash something together to test your mobile application development. Many of the mobile dev shops interact with client data through a web service, and making your own local copy with test data can give you a speed advantage in getting your (client's) app to market. The talk uses Ruby, Sinatra and Heroku as the core tech behind a RESTafarian style of service, with persistence and a public deployment.

The good news is that neither the bucket of tar nor the sack of feathers was required by the audience, there was a distinct lack of torches/pitchforks, et cetera. As a result I've posted the slides on Slideshare. They are mostly composed of screengrabs and codedumps, so make sure you view the presenter notes, in which I have expanded on the sparsely populated slides themselves. You can get the sample code on GitHub. I'll buy beers for anyone who implements simple database authentication and sends me a successful pull request :)

Note: I've spotted some rendering weirdness with Chrome - if you can't see the slides, try another browser, or hit the download button.

Eclipse ESE 2010 and STP News

Eclipse ESE 2010 w00t!

Eclipse ESE 2010 starts tomorrow, and I'm going to be there - well, I'll be there from Wednesday to Friday. I'm delighted, because I had written it off this year, having had to dramatically scale down my Eclipse community involvement. But with the help of Herr Program Chair Bernd, and cheap Eurozone flights, I'll be helping whip the room into shape in the Build Systems Exposed: Strengths & Weaknesses of Build Technologies at Eclipse panel discussion. Present will be the usual suspects, Henrik "Buck" Lindberg, Jason "Tycho" van Zyl and Nick "Athena" Boldt. Unfortunately, the fourth stooge, Dave "Agile" Carver, is being held incommunicado by his cats and can't make it. The point of the session is to help you, the attendee Eclipse developer, to get your brain-gear about how to make your projects build, get tested and get packaged. Questions are very important in this regard. Bring 'em.

For myself, I'm too long in the tooth and cynical to insist that there is one true path here, that one of the approaches is the best in all cases. I've been in Enterprise Software for the last 17 years, you see. In any case you have to do your own research as to what will work for you - I want you to consider this as school homework. No-one is going to do your assignment for you, because every project is different, and frankly, you need to learn how this stuff works or else you will be doomed next time around. Put it into the schedule.

Maybe that came across a little cranky. I've been on both sides of the issue and neither is comfortable, but I think you do have to learn it yourself for the knowledge to stick, so you can maintain it. However, that doesn't mean I think everyone needs to start from scratch - there's a base level of mechanics that can be given as an exemplar from which people can extrapolate. Lots of examples exist for this particular sphere of issues, so what I would really like to see would be The Eclipse Ultimate Guide To Building Eclipse By Example, which would take N types of Eclipse project and for each one show the M different ways to build it. A way to kick off would be to take Wayne's article on building Woolsey with Tycho and do a similar one on building Woolsey with Buckminster (or Athena).

In any case, looking forward to getting there and reminding myself how good German beer can be!

Eclipse STP News

The Eclipse SOA top-level project is now up and running pretty much completely, and with that the merge of the Swordfish and the projects contained by the Eclipse STP top-level project is complete. More than complete, in fact, with the addition of the eBPM, eBAM and Java Workflow Tooling projects, there's a comprehensive and diverse range of solutions available. Now, there is merely tidying up to do, and the remaining strands of connective tissue (build, web, etc) that kept those projects in place in STP needs to be removed. With this message to the STP and SOA PMCs I've initiated that process. Congrats to all projects on their move to Eclipse SOA and best of luck to the combined Tools + Runtime top-level project!

Sparrow - a new Mac Mail Application

I really try to steer clear of blogging about individual pieces of non-developer-oriented software, but I'm making an exception for Sparrow, a new Mac-based frontend application for Gmail. Screenshot with privacy-enhancing blurs below.

Sparrow Screenshot

I guess the first question is, why don't I just use the browser of my choice to read email? Well, it's because I don't like using the browser to read email, thanks. And since I have a number of Gmail accounts, Sparrow makes it much easier to switch, with its Tweetie-like interface.

It's very early days for this client, so there are some glitches and sometimes the UI feels a little slow during sync. I can forgive that for a work in progress. It's now up to the developers not to screw it by adding in piles of unnecessary features. Watch the Sparrow blog for details.

OSGi Training in Dublin

The ISA-Skillnet folks have set up a rare local opportunity for people to get some insights into the world of OSGi on Thursday this week (9th September) at the IBEC offices on Lower Baggot St. The inimitable Ian Bull, the lead for the Eclipse Zest visualization toolkit and an Equinox p2 committer will be doing the pitch. Ian knows his onions when it comes to this material and if you are looking for a solid explanation of why OSGi exists, what it does and how you can use it to structure your Java development and enforce runtime component isolation, you should get your carcass over to this talk, which is free to anyone who works for an Software Skillnet member company - list of members here (PDF link). You could get your company to join up, or just email them an ask about individual access.

Here’s the announcement: http://www.isa-skillnet.com/Training_Courses/88#ss162. The show starts at 1745.

Eclipse Quickie: Changing Buckminster Build To Use Git

Question: So, you are building a gaggle of projects that use Subversion, and one of them pops up and decides that distributed source code management is now the future and that they have moved to Git. You have a Buckminster build system - what do you do?

Answer: Make a simple change to your RMAP file as follows and just carry on as usual.

Before: we discover the source code of the BPMN Modeler from its Subversion repository.

[sourcecode language="xml"] <searchPath name="bpmn.plugins"> <provider readerType="svn" componentTypes="osgi.bundle" mutable="false" source="true"> <uri format="http://dev.eclipse.org/svnroot/stp/org.eclipse.stp.bpmn-modeler/org.eclipse.stp.bpmn/trunk/{0}"> <bc:propertyRef key="buckminster.component" /> </uri> </provider> </searchPath> [/sourcecode]

After: we discover the source code of the BPMN Modeler from its Git repository.

[sourcecode language="xml"] <searchPath name="bpmn.plugins"> <provider readerType="git" componentTypes="osgi.bundle,eclipse.feature" resolutionFilter=""> <uri format="{0}/bpmnmodeler,{1}"> <bc:propertyRef key="workspace.root" /> <bc:propertyRef key="buckminster.component" /> </uri> <property key="git.remote.uri" value="git://git.eclipse.org/gitroot/bpmnmodeler"/> <property key="git.remote.name" value="bpmnmodeler"/> </provider> </searchPath> [/sourcecode]

Look for: the readerType has changed to git, there's a change in the uri format, and we've been required to add a couple of new property key-value pairs. Then it works first time (for me at least!). You will need the 3.6 Buckminster stream to get the git readerType - download information is here.

I have to say a big thank-you to the Buckminster Team for this piece of software that not only powers the STP build, but also the construction of the complete Helios release!

Oisín's Precepts Version 1.0.qualifier

I'm making a set of precepts that I'm going to try and stick to from a professional engagements perspective. These have been very much influenced by Uncle Bob - especially his keynote for EclipseCon 2010, which provided the inspiration to put these together in this form - and of course by the many mistakes I've made in the past, which is what we call experience. So, in no particular order:

Don't be in so deep you can't see reality.

If you haven't communicated with a user of your software in over a month, you could have departed the Earth for Epsilon Eridani and you wouldn't know.

Seek to destroy hope, the project-killer.

When you hear yourself saying well, I hope we'll be done by the end of the week, then you are officially on the way to that state known as doomed. If you are invoking hope, trouble is not far away. So, endeavour to destroy hope at every turn. You do this with data. Know where you are - use an agile style of process to collect data points. Iterate in fine swerves that give you early notice of rocks in the development stream.

When the meeting is boring, leave.

Be constructive about it, however. You should know what you want to get out of the meeting. If it's moving away from what you are expecting, contribute to getting it back on track. It won't always go totally your way. If you can't retrieve it, then make your excuse and leave.

Don't accept dumb restrictions on your development process.

Pick your own example here. Note that restrictions can also take the form of a big shouty man roaring the effing developers don't have effing time to write effing tests! (true story that).

There must be a Plan and you must Believe It Will Work.

This is pretty simple on the face of it. One theory on human motivation includes three demands - autonomy, mastery, purpose - that all need to be satisfied to a certain degree before one is effectively motivated (see Dan Pink's TED lecture). If there is no plan, or the plan stinks like a week-old haddock, then the purpose element of your motivation is going to be missing. Would like to earn lots of money, work with fantastic technologies and yet have your work burnt in front of your eyes at the end of the month? I wouldn't.

Discussions can involve shouting. That's ok, but only now and then.

Without extensive practice, humans find it difficult to separate their emotions from discussions, especially when there is something potentially big at stake. Just look at the level of fear-mongering that politicians come out with to influence voters. There will be some shouting - expect it - but it's not right if shouting is a regular occurrence.

Refuse to commit to miracles.

How many times have I done this already over the last eighteen years? Ugh.

Do not harm the software, or allow it to come to harm through inaction.

No making a mess - your Mom taught you that. Stick with your disciplines. Don't let any one else beat up on the software either. It's your software too, and hence your problem if it is abused.

Neither perpetrate intellectual violence, nor allow it to be perpetrated upon you.

Intellectual violence is a project management antipattern, whereby someone who understands a theory, or a buzzword, or a technology uses this knowledge to intimidate others that do not know it. Basically, it's used to shut people up during a meeting, preying on their reluctance to show ignorance in a particular area (this reluctance can be very strong in techie folks). Check out number nineteen in Things to Say When You're Losing a Technical Argument. Stand up to this kind of treatment. Ask for the perpetrator to explain his concern to everyone in the room.

Learn how you learn.

I know that if I am learning new technologies, I can do it best provided I have time to sleep and time to exercise. I also know that my learning graph is a little like a step function, with exponential-style curves leading to plateaus. I know when I am working through problems and my brain suddenly tells me to go and get another coffee, or switch to some other task, or go and chat to someone, it means I am very close to hitting a new understanding plateau. So I have to sit there and not give in :) I also know that I need to play with tiny solutions to help me too.

You have limits on overtime, know them.

This should be easy for you - if you are tired, you are broken. Don't be broken and work on your code. Go somewhere and rest. Insist on it.

Needless to say at some point in the future this post will come back to haunt me I am sure. But I'm hoping that if I produce a little laminated card with these precepts on it, keep it in my wallet, then I'll at least not lose track by accident.

Epicenter 2010 Dublin - register now!

At last, after a belated spring has sprung, and the local flora are finally catching up with their deadlines, we have the usual Epicenter Early Bird Closing date heaving into view. Well - it's more already sitting on your lap, since today is the last Early Bird registration day. Run, don't walk, to the tickets page.

Epicenter is in its second year and is well on the way to being Ireland's top software conference. Good news for the local islanders - no jousting with ash clouds or having to urinate into a bottle on a Ryanair flight because you haven't got change for the toilets! The conference is your typical multi-zone, multi-track affair, with each day focussed on a different technology or industry subject. Check out the website at epicenter.ie, scroll down the page for information on the speakers and talks.

There's a good selection of speakers - Jeff Genender will be speaking, as will Eugene Ciurana - both well-known Open Source stalwarts. Matt Raible will join them, as will Eclipse Ecosystem buddy Doug Clarke. I've heard that the ever-Groovy Guillaume Laforge will be making an appearance too, but I can't find his name on the website. Maybe I wasn't meant to write that down. Ooops.

Just in case you are reading this and would like to help out from a sponsorship aspect, there are all sorts of packages that start off at an accessible €200. You would think that even Enterprise Ireland and the IDA should be able to manage to find that much down the back of the sofa for one of the biggest software conferences held in the country :)

Since Epicenter is in June, I've half a mind to see if I can get some people together for an Eclipse Demo Camp maybe before or after the main event. Leave a comment if you would be interested in attending or presenting a demo.

I'm off to register now - hope to see you there!

Ignite #4 Dublin

In the aftermath of EclipseCon 2010, when the Program Committee got together to talk about the state of the show, one item that came up was the possible use of an Ignite-style format for presentations. The format is deliberately designed to reduce waffling and slide overloading by limiting presenters to a total of twenty slides and five minutes. That's ok, but the key innovation is that each slide is shown for fifteen seconds and the presenter has no control over the transition. Now that's pressure!

The greatest challenge for constructing EclipseCon 2010 content was the wide mismatch between the sheer volume of material that was submitted and the container for that content -- the rooms and time slots. Take, for example, the Eclipse Modeling Project. This is a container project that has something in excess of sixty sub-projects. How on earth can each of those projects be given time to present in full? Even if only half of them were active, it would still be a tough deal, considering that Modeling is only one of the Eclipse top-level projects. In fact, the Modeling PMC did a great job by including a Modeling Runway talk, which gave twenty-odd projects three minutes to introduce themselves. Very Ignite-like.

Ignite Dublin

So, for the purposes of research, I attended Ignite Dublin #4 last week at the Science Gallery, and I have come away a total fan of the format. Mind you, the diversity of the presentations was the real titillating bit - some examples: we had a photo-essay from a paraglider, and ambient soundscape performance, pedantry, fish stock history (yikes - we had them all eaten by 1870), comedy, legal knowledge and the demise of newspapers. Presenters included a cinematographer, a biologist, a couple of performance artists, film-makers, a neuroscientist, a designer, an environmental historian and a statistician. Beer and pizza was the icing on the cake, if you excuse the screwed up food metaphor.

More information...

Follow @ignitedublin and @ScienceGallery for upcoming events. For those of you who are ash-strapped abroad, you can see the presentations on the Ignite Dublin YouTube channel.

EclipseCon 2010 Retrospective

It’s nearly time to return to our scheduled programming, but first a quick retrospective of EclipseCon 2010.

Oisin Rejected My Talk

The danger with writing a retrospective like this is that it can rapidly become a screed of great proportions and hit everyone’s tl;dr button. So I’ll keep this short. What I am reporting here is my own experience plus feedback from both presenter and non-presented folk. I’ll keep the format of the previous articles to focus it.

Exercise
This was a great success this year - better than years when there were half again as many attendees. My only regret was that I missed out on a teeshirt on the first day! Much appreciation to Kim Moir for, er, running with this.
Keynotes
The keynote from Oracle was a lacklustre affair - and watching some of the tweetage that was coming out from their panel later in the day, it’s no surprise since Oracle don’t appear to have decided what they are up to. Especially with the retention of three UIs - Eclipse, JDeveloper and Netbeans. Come budget time, the VP or whoever at the pointy end of controlling those three groups will have to get the hatchet out. Which will fall? JDeveloper is ensconced like a tick - parts of it are in core Oracle products (allegedly). I have to assume that the Netbeans team is larger than the Eclipse team, does that make them more likely to be kept? Of course, it won’t be that simple - perhaps the Netbeans Java tooling people could be transitioned to Eclipse to add more value to the JDT? Anyway, I’m sure we’ll be guessing for a while.

The NASA/JPL keynote from Jeff was a masterful performance - not only the content, which was bang on demographic for a crowd of developers and technophiles, but the structure and production values were excellent. I caught a couple of clips - here’s Jeff talking to David who is supervising the ATHLETE robot in the lab

[vimeo vimeo.com/10575313]

and here is Jeff’s closing remarks with his Lego buddy Socrates

[vimeo vimeo.com/10575342]

Robert “Uncle Bob” Martin (Roberto) presented the keynote on software professionalism and it too was excellent work, although on a totally different axis to Jeff’s. This man is a past master of the presentation style, fearless, emotive and ready to challenge his audience. Here’s some short extracts:

  • agile is about destroying the hope that keeps stupid plans alive
  • say no to all forms of bad code
  • say no to dropping your disciplines
  • say no to overtime - know your limits
  • say no to meetings - when the meeting gets boring, leave
  • say no to dumb restrictions on your development process
I think the talk unnerved some people (as evinced by -1’s in the red bucket), so good work Roberto!
Tutorials
I got a goodly amount of positive feedback that a tutorial-per-morning was a nice idea and something that people did look forward to. There was a bit of balancing feedback that some of the tutorials were somewhat disorganized, not fully prepared, had too many slides, didn’t have enough introductory information, or were missing required data. The Program Committee had a meeting on this and we have a couple of proposals to make sure that these kinds of issues won’t occur next year.
Talks
On balance, the 25-minute talks worked, I think. I had a lot of conference-goers saying that they were pleasantly surprised with the shorter format - they got a similar amount of information in a shorter time and could go to more talks. Most presenters stepped up to the plate and did a really good job on condensing their material and cut quickly to demos. Some didn’t and the talks were rushed and hassly. There were a couple of people who appeared to be personally upset about the timing - how on earth could you talk about anything in less than 35 minutes? They got my get over it lecture.

One the other hand, the 12-minute lightnings did not really work at all well this year compared to other years. I think it’s because so many speakers got instructed to cut from standard length to lightning and it was just too difficult to do. I’m thinking we might revisit that for next year.

Feedback was on the high side for good talks, however some donkeys were brought to light too.

Panels
The panels I went to were good. The quality of the moderation was tip-top, the preparation was good, and all were conducted in good humour and with great candour. Controversy can work well in a panel, but it appears that good, solid, experiential data works well too. Big shout out to Dave Carver for his innovative Jeopardy-style approach in moderating the Build and Continuous Integration Panel and use of “the Undead” as a question category :)
BoFs and Unconference
This year we seemed to be totally BoF-tastic, with a great amount of activity going on there, but the Unconference got little support. Lesson learned here - the crowd at the ‘Con are more interested in getting together in a social group for listen and learn rather than stepping up and doing their own off-piste talks.
Divers Alarums - being a gallimaufry of tatterdemalion conference qualia
  • e4 Rover Programming Competition - wow, this was a runaway success and frankly will be hard to top. Huge kudos to the NASA guys, Ian, Boris and Ben
  • EclipseCon Tweetup - informal meeting in the bar, always works for me ;)
  • Don’s sense of humour - “I’m stalling…and you’re all leaving…and now I’ve lost all credibility…”
  • Sergey P’s phones - classic
  • Giving us mugs instead of little rinky-dink cups for coffee - most essential
  • The general buzz around the place since we were in a smaller area was great
Thanks to all…
Well it looks like this turned out to be a screed after all. I hope you enjoyed the conference. I’ll finished with thanks to many people that made the conference work - attendees, thank you for coming; presenters, thank you for presenting your work; keynoters, thank you for crafting your keynotes and delivering them to a tough crowd; program committee, thank you for the hard graft coming up to program announce date; Don, Anne, Gabe, Ian, Lynn, Mary, thank you for hard work in the logistics and outreach departments!

And with that, I leave you all in the safe and capable hands of Chris Aniszczyk, Eclipse Committer, runner, author and Program Chair for EclipseCon 2011.

EclipseCon Stalwarts Quenching Their Thirst

Cheers!

MyEclipseCon Thursday

Late again. I think I'm losing my motivation to write these blog entries :) But, better late than never, I guess, so here's the plan for Thursday at EclipseCon.

Exercise


Errm, nothing doing here. Weighed down by the burdens of a sore foot and a big curry dinner with some Progress guys at Amber (I recommend the okra gojju), I just turned over when the alarm clock went.

Keynote


This morning's keynote is from Uncle Bob Martin - Software Professionalism and the Art of Saying "No". Uncle Bob is one of those world-class speakers in the software industry and always produces thought-provoking and inspiring talks, whether you agree with him or not!

Tutorial


I was thinking that Getting the most out of your models: performance and extensibility with EMF would be my tutorial of choice this morning.

Talks


Mik Kersten of Mylyn fame is giving two talks after lunch: From Tasks to Tweets: the IDE is Going Social and The future of Mylyn. Mik is an energetic and skilled presenter and it's usually well worth attending his talks. This time around, however, he's got a bit of a challenge! Congratulations are in order on the very recent birth of a new daughter, which means he cannot travel, but he will still be making the presentations via a live stream. Tests have been run, but fingers crossed that there's no tech glitches!

Third talk will be a break from Mylyn and back on the subject of testing, specifically Use a bot to test your GEF and GMF based applications. A recent extension contributed to SWTBot makes it possible to use it to test plug-ins that use GEF.

Fourth talk of the day for me will be The Future of Code Coverage for Eclipse, which will present the JaCoCo project. I use code coverage to tell me when to stop testing, and so should you :)

Final talk of the day. Neil Bartlett with ScalaModules: OSGi the Easy Way with a Scala DSL. I'm still threatening to learn Scala, but I'm being a bit lazy about it, so maybe this might be a prod of encouragement and maybe I'll be able to try out other neat Scala stuff like Scalate.

Panel


At the end of the day, there is the usual Community Spotlight plenary to close the conference, then it's time to start planning for EclipseCon 2011! Congratulations to Chris on his appointment as Program Chair - he's going to bring a lot of energy and dedication to the role and getting out of the traps right now is a great start.

MyEclipseCon Wednesday

EclipseCon: one of the best conferences I have attended!

I’m getting some good feedback on EclipseCon 2010 :) This is great news and has has buoyed up the Program Committee no end - to the point where they would almost do it again!

But we’re not there yet. There are two more days left. The rush of content and the pace of this conference seems to be way in advance of the larger affairs in the past. No-one is getting lost trying to find their target talk, people are bumping into each all over. So what’s up for tomorrow?

Exercise


Time to give up complaining about my sore foot and go for a run with the rest of the crew. Then just man up and take painkillers for the rest of the day.

Keynote


Rockets! Robots! Lasers! Space! Jeff Norris the supervisor of the Planning Software Systems Group at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His group develops operations systems for a variety of space missions including the Phoenix Mars Scout, Cassini Saturn Orbiter, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rovers. The keynote is called Rocket Science and the Republic.

Tutorials


I love having a tutorial every morning! Today it is going to be Eclipse UI Test Automation with SWTBot, where I am going to learn how to write and run SWTBot tests, with the intention of fleshing out the Message Owl project with some tests! I’m really interested in seeing what the capabilities of this framework are (check out the Bonitasoft Blog for some hints).

Talks


First up XQDT - XQuery Getting Momentum in Eclipse to find out about the state of the art for XQuery tools here at Eclipse.

Continuing with the XML technologies theme, next on my list is Down the Rabbit Hole: A Single Character in the XML Editor, which will give me some insight into how the XML editor works. Could be useful!

Third talk will be Scale, Share and Store your Models with CDO. Back in the IONA days we made a product that had client connections to a remote EMF repository, which sat in a database. We applied changesets from clients to the data and had our own EMF->SQL persistence layer. It is a pity we didn’t have CDO back then, and I’d like to know more about it.

Developing Eclipse Plug-ins with JavaScript is next on the block. I’m interested in polyglot plugins, developing for OSGi in non-Java languages.

Final talk of the day will most likely be What’s Cookin’ at SWT just to get a look at what’s going on there, especially for Cocoa.

Panels


The Future of Open Source looks interesting, so I think I’ll make that the last stop of the day.

MyEclipseCon Tuesday

Talk about a late blog entry. I’m just enjoying this EclipseCon too much. Here’s my plan for Tuesday, that is today.

Keynote

Oracle will be (were) here to tell us about the future of Java. Multiple modularity systems (sigh) with some kind of paste on top to hide which one you are using, a nice JavaFX authoring tool that will allow you to create vibrating animated rockets and JDK 7 to be shipped as fast as possible.

Tutorial

It was a tough choice again - Server-side Web Applications, Anatomy of e4, Getting Started with EclipseRT, all sounded great, but I’m currently in the JDT Fundamentals tutorial, learning about the three pillars of JDT (java model, search engine, AST), the APIs of each and how to use them. It’s not by any means trivial, but it is definitely very cool. They have given so much thought to performance and cost of usage in the APIs. Kudos.

I made this choice because part of the work we did in Progress on a UI for Apache Camel included an Eclipse view that rendered the Camel route, based on the content of a Java editor where the developer was using the fluent builder APIs. We did this by walking the JDT AST and constructing a model that could be rendered. The result was a better user experience for people using Java as the route definition language - they could simply glance at the diagram of the route to ensure that the Java they were writing was correctly expressing their intent. I didn’t write this code, but I’d like to know how it works, and this JDT tutorial might help me with that (partial ASTs FTW, I think).

Talks


My first choice is Textual Modeling Tools: overview and penalty shoot-out. This is a comparison study of a number of text modeling tools. Top tip to presenters in the future - more of this kind of thing, please. Comparison studies are extremely valuable for developers and product managers that need to make technology choices. It’s even more important in a big wide space like the Modeling Project where there are many projects that appear to have overlapping capabilities.

Second talk - Documentation: Single-Sourcing, Crowd-Sourcing And Other Voodoo. Documentation is the Achilles heel of many Open Source projects. In a sweeping generalization, I hereby declare that developers like to focus on code and tests, and not so much the explanations in natural language. Couple this with a ‘read the code’ type of arrogance that sometime pops up and you have a project that has a serious bar to entry for new contributors. One thing that might help stave off that kind of situation is to have a very functional way to contribute documentation, thought out as a first-order plan rather than an afterthought, which permits the spreading of a wide net and makes it really really easy for contributors to add snippets and fix issues. Maybe there will be some solutions in this talk.

Talk three - one of those rarely-observed Extended Talks - OSGi Best and Worst Practices. I’ve been looking over zx’s shoulder as he has been putting this together and it looks like there is a bit of presentation zen going on with good dollop of humour as well as good, solid information, so looking forward to it.

Note to presenters: the primary purpose of a presentation is to entertain, the secondary purpose is to inform. Let’s face it - if you are not entertaining the crowd, they are going to get up and leave before you get a chance to give them data.

Talk number four is another Extended Talk, and it is definitely going to be Graphiti - The Graphical Tooling Infrastructure Speaking Plain Java. I am totally looking forward to this, because I’m a bit excited about this project and can’t wait to get my hands on it :)

Talk five - I can’t believe there will be this many talks - I’m not so sure about. Using JPA in OSGi might be the one - I have seen so many developers in trouble trying to get this running it would be good to know how to do it. The Towards Contributors Heaven: from CVS and SVN to EGit/JGit talk will be interesting, but I think I know that well enough. How to make a framework plugin that doesn’t suck could be good too - the speaker has a lot of experience in developing Eclipse tools. I don’t know if he will be wearing his Superman shirt for this gig, however.

Panels


I’ll be on the Build and Continuous Integration with Eclipse panel.

Unconference


I think I’ll do an Unconference presentation this evening, what topic, I don’t know just yet. Will decide during the Reception ;-)

MyEclipseCon Unconference

Before getting onto my Tuesday session favourites, I thought I'd do a short piece on a new creature in the EclipseCon bestiary - the evening Unconference.  If you have ever attended a BarCamp, or dabbled with the Open Space Technology meeting methods, then you will know what this about. If not, do not panic! It's really quite straightforward.

Why add an Unconference?


My own experience with this type of interaction was three years ago at BarCamp Dublin, organized by my pal Joe Drumgoole. There were some pre-organized sessions given by local industry luminaries, which was followed by appearance of a whiteboard divided into a grid of times and rooms, with a pad of sticky notes. If you wanted to present, you wrote your topic and name on a sticky note, pasted it on the whiteboard, then turned up at the appointed place and time and you just...did your thing.

I was fascinated by this straight away, but I also had some considerable skeptiscism on the potential for success. I thought, who would just get up there and yap away for twenty minutes? To my surprise, the slots on the whiteboard filled within an hour. It was infectious - once the first few slots were taken, people started to get ideas about subject matter and began to get worried that there would be no slots left in the schedule! It ended up being well over-subscribed.

When I was thinking about how the conference could be shaped this year, an Unconference section appeared to fit in a highly complementary fashion with the standard conference format of the day. Here I am going to quote myself (oh, the narcissism!) from an interview I did with JAXenter last week:

A conference day is always a long day, so the concept behind this new structure is that attendees get education in the morning when their brain is ready to learn, they get entertainment and information with the talks, they get to give feedback and interact directly with the experts during the panels and finally, they get their own say at the Unconference. No-one likes to listen for the whole day without giving something in return, so you can see the balance of communication starting focussed on the presenters then shifting over to focus on the attendees at the end of the day.

The Gross Mechanics


We've reserved three or four rooms for the Unconference.  When you sign up as an Unconference speaker you get twenty minutes of time. You can talk for twenty minutes on a single topic, or you can talk for five minutes each on four topics. It's up to you. You could join forces with an open source buddy and do a joint presentation. You could do a mini-hackathon. You could facilitate a panel recruited from the bar area.

How do you sign up? There will be poster board available on the concourse and pads of sticky notes. The schedule will be on the boards. Write the topic of your talk and your name on a sticky and put it into a free slot if there is one available. The Program Committee will keep an eye on things - make sure that you have your name on the sticky note.

Combating Irrelevant Twaddle


In this kind of open format, there is always the likelihood that the most mouthy and/or obsessed will attempt to dominate the delivery channel. In this scenario, the Law of Two Feet should be observed. This is a simple filtering mechanism - if you don't feel you are learning or contributing, or the relevance quotient has slipped below your baseline, then vote with your feet! Go to another session in another room, or just go have a margarita and some shrimp or something. Alternatively, you could ask the speaker to talk about another aspect of the topic under discussion.

Back to BarCamp Dublin - for myself, I really wanted to sign up to participate, but I was kind of parched for subject matter. Not this time for the Eclipse Unconference -  I'm hoping to be able to beat the rush and get a couple of sessions up there on the board!  Anyone out there interested in joining in?

MyEclipseCon Monday

It's been a nervous couple of weeks here in Dublin - US passport restrictions require a six month validity period on foreign passports post arrival, and it turned out mine was due to expire in July (huh? where did that ten years go?) No more than forty-five minutes after I sent in my application, the Passport Office announced industrial action :] Fortunately, just before blood-pressure reached vein-rupturing levels this morning, I discovered that the passport is in the post and should reach me today, so it turns out I will go to the ball after all. Now I'm busy filling out my dance card.

As per usual, the diversity of sessions makes for a daunting choice -- thanks to the Program Committee, I'm going to be on my toes, running around like a blue-arsed fly from session to session. The good part about this is I'll get to (literally) bump into loads of people in the halls!

It's Monday, the first day of the conference, so everyone is hot to trot and no-one has had a drink or a row yet. Usually the most energetic day of the conference, new PBs are set on the 5k and breakfast burritos are wolfed down with aplomb. Email can go hang.

Space and Robots

First up, Mission launch for e4 rover mars challenge! Squee! In conjunction with some awesome types at NASA JPL, we have a programming competition to produce the best control software for driving a robot across a prototypical Mars terrain. Follow that link and read the FAQ for details.

Tutorials

Tutorials follow - already I've got problems about what to attend and it's not even 9am. The Xtext and p2 tutorials are the ones that jump out at me, and I think I'm going to favour the Xtext one, because it has a little bit of e4 for extra learn points.

Quick aside here. When I was working in IONA and in Progress, making Eclipse things, I had a total blackout on e4 material, basically because there was no way that we were going to re-engineer for e4 before late 2011 by my reckoning. But now that I am floating around the place, it might be a good plan to know more about this approaching technology. My experiences with Xtext (I made a not-dead-but-sleeping project charmingly titled CamelSpit) were good in the past and I would like to use it a bit more. Kim and Ian are doing the p2 gig, which made this a tough call. I'm definitely going to get their slides and exercises material if I can.

Talk Sessions

After the tutorial comes lunch and the Standard Talks. The first standard slot of the day is either going to be Dave Carver's SCRUM experiences, or the e4 model and application framework. Right now I'm tending towards Dave's presentation, provided he doesn't bring his cat, which looks a bit vicious in the photo.

Second slot after lunch - the traditional dozy need coffee slot - I think is going to be the b3 introduction. I should know more about this, but I haven't been keeping up. Bad committer! I'd like to see people's responses and questions to this session too.

Third slot after lunch - there's a choice of four standard sessions and a couple of lightning talks. I think the Eclipse Virgo one might be the one to visit at this point. I'm holding on to healthy skepticism about this project at the moment, fears of abandonware and all that, but time will tell.

As another aside, it's mildly interesting for some (although a bit of a waste from a developer's point of view) to see the choose-your-community-along-business-lines in operation: the IBM guys plus pals at Apache with Aries, the Oracle guys plus pals at Eclipse with Gemini. I'm not going to go to those talks, since I'm not involved with any of the organizations at this point (although I am an as-yet-inactive committer on Aries.) But if you want to know what is happening in the new scrabble for position on OSGi runtimes and the formation of the "enterprise" take on the picture by the usual suspects, then both of those talks will be worth a visit.

First slot after the coffee break, I think it's time to kick back and let the short concentration span rule with a couple of lightning talks - Xpand and iPhonical are my targets.

Last talk slot of the day, I'm going to find out about the brand spanky new p2 API.

Panels

Next up are the Panel Sessions and I see that Don has snuck in some contemporaneous lightning talks. Best case would have been panels on their own, but at least if you just want to see one of the talks, you can get up and move to the panel (that's where the shouting is coming from, by the way). There's a good chance I'll be moderating one of these panels, so that's what I will be up to.

Evening Antics

At this point, jetlag will be solid set in for us Euro-types, and the only way to intercede is with some ethanol-fuelled beverages and cocktail sauce-drenched shrimp at the Oracle and Sonatype receptions. Don't forget, however, that the BoFs and Unconference is happening at the same time -- sign ups are on site, and if you have any bees in your bonnet about any Eclipse related subject, or you have your own trumpet to toot on a pet project, then this is your chance to let us all know. Don't drink too much beer before you do your presentation!  I'm knocking together a few talks that I'll try to present in the Unconference time  - you'll see them when you get there.

The clock will be at 9pm at this stage, and it's time to unwind and think about tomorrow's sessions.

Sic transit gloria mundi

Dear Diary,

Got laid off today, sausages for tea.

Even when you’re an old hand, there’s a first time for everything. Myself, and plenty others more talented than I, fell under the unexpected cash-cushioned hammer of a lay-off today. This marks the first time I’ve not had a regular income since 1985, which is a bit of a thrill. Also it may have been while you, dearest reader, weren’t on solids yet. (Hopefully I’m being read by people younger than me. If you don’t wear glasses, that counts. Or I’m claiming it at least.)

What’s keeping me bouyant, in the non-physical sense, is the fact that I’ve spent the last few years contributing and being a part of open-source communities. The wheel is still turning and the hamster is not yet dead – while my employers may change, I can still write the code I want to write, further the projects I favour to be furthered, and continue to do the things I enjoy doing. This is the beauty, for any developer, to be in open source. You get, for free, an option on continuity that is new and unique, a possibility of satisfaction that your contributions to the global corpus of software is not going to rot in a hopelessly un-administered clearcase repository in the bowels of a corporation. I’m going to spend some time now working through some karmic burdens which have been drifting up against the for-pay-wall, and I’m going to enjoy it.

By the way, I’ll see you all at EclipseCon. If you don’t put speaker names to your talks right now, as soon as I write this, your ass will be slung out of the program. We will make an effigy of you, and either burn it in situ or send it to be consumed by hollowed-out meaty integuments of the NetBeans engineers. You don’t even get the choice.

Oh, and by the by, if you haven’t already discerned, I will attempt to ensure that the removal of the restraining bolt will result in a bit more than a choppy video of some lady in a dress :)

For shorter spoutings, follow @oisin on twitter.

Advice for Industry from Colm Tóibín

The Guardian online edition recently published a two-part article called “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction”, which polled a number of well-known writers for their ten, or three, or one, rules that they apply while plying their trade. Colm Tóibín’s ten I particularly liked, and they apply well to personal industry in general:

  1. Finish everything you start.
  2. Get on with it.
  3. Stay in your mental pyjamas all day.
  4. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
  5. No alcohol, sex or drugs while you are working.
  6. Work in the morning, a short break for lunch, work in the afternoon and then watch the six o’clock news and then go back to work until bed-time. Before bed, listen to Schubert, preferably some songs.
  7. If you have to read, to cheer yourself up read biographies of writers who went insane.
  8. On Saturdays, you can watch an old Bergman film, preferably Persona or Autumn Sonata.
  9. No going to London.
  10. No going anywhere else either.

Of course, rules are not for everyone. For some, a simple dictum is all that is necessary to provide guidance. I think Helen Simpson summarizes it best with

The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying “Faire et se taire” (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as “Shut up and get on with it.”
To which it might be useful to add, for balance, one from A. L. Kennedy
Defend your work. Organisations, institutions and individuals will often think they know best about your work – especially if they are paying you. When you genuinely believe their decisions would damage your work – walk away. Run away. The money doesn’t matter that much.

EclipseCon 2010 Program In The Bag

If you have been tracking the EclipseCon submission system, or tweets from @eclipsecon, or blog posts from Donald Smith, you will have noticed that the Program Committee have finalized the program for 2010.

We’ve rejected far, far more submissions than we accepted, and probably upset some people. Sorry about that. Lucky for me, I’m getting the positive mail and Donald is getting the grief. Just in case you wanted to know, the decision process went a bit like this:

  • the big list of submissions was reviewed - we set up small teams from the Program Committee to review based on tags assigned to the submissions to do this
  • each tag team did a full review of the abstracts in their tag area and came back to the group with the “must-haves”
  • we gathered all the “must-haves” into lists for each talk type and spent over eight hours arguing about which were the most appropriate to choose for the program
All during this period, talks were being shrunk in size, coalesced, moved around and generally acting like quicksand.

I need to offer many thanks to guys on the Program Committee for the big pile of work they put in over the weekly conference calls and the big push in the endgame. They are:

When these guys failed to reject your talk, I stepped in and did so. I’d also like to recognize the excellent contributions of two others who for one reason or another needed to withdraw from the committee: Gabe O’Brien provided great help and timely support in the extension and massaging of the various recondite figaries of the submission system.

If your talk has been accepted - good stuff, start making your slides and, more importantly, your demos. Resist the urge to crow about it on twitter, if you can. If your talk has not been accepted - we will have outside-program space as part of the Unconference in the evenings. If you are coming along to the conference, you will get a chance to pitch your project or work. We’ll roll out plans and guidelines on how that will come together over the next couple of weeks.

Keep working on your talks. You should know your own stats at this stage. It takes me a total of about twenty hours to prepare from scratch a mediocre forty-minute talk about something I know pretty well. To do a shorter and better-quality talk takes considerably longer.

See you in Santa Clara in March.

Blog Administrivia for 2010

New year, new blog theme, new content. This year I’m going to add more non-career-related material to the blog, primarily to keep me interested in doing more writing. You might like it too.

Welcome to 2010!

I predict this will be the year of the Most Number of Disappointed EclipseCon Submitters Ever.

Myself and the Program Committee are trawling through the many, many submissions for EclipseCon 2010, and having a rough time finding space for so many potentially interesting talks. It’s even rougher than usual this year.

If you have submitted a proposal, keep an eye on your email for communications. We’re trying hard to produce a balanced program that caters to everyone - but Eclipse has a large ecosystem and while we are trying to be as diverse as possible in our choices, there will be good material we will have to leave out from the official program.  We may ask you to restructure your talk, or make it shorter, or merge it with another talk. If you have submitted multiple talks on the same topic, or with a core plus tangential topics, well, I guess you can see where this is going :)

Ok, so much for the gloomy part – the upside is that we will have a really neat collection of talks this year that accurately (as much as we can) reflect the popularity of the various topics. So far it seems to fit the demographic we’ve seen before, with Modeling, Runtime, Java and UI/RCP being the most popular areas. The new tag Build and Continuous Integration has entered the charts pretty high up too, not unexpected with the multiple approaches now becoming available to build Eclipse products and plug-ins.

If your talk is rejected, don’t forget that we will also run an Unconference event in the evenings - you might still get a chance to say your piece. You might want to think of it as a just-off-Broadway show alternative.

EclipseCon Submissions - pendant le déluge

This time of the year is holiday season around where I live and it can get pretty quiet during the day, as people dream of days off rapidly approaching and answer IMs from boomerangs of the diaspora, back for a couple of weeks. It makes me wish I had followed through on my idea to make a machine that goes ping whenever an EclipseCon submission came through, because the constant ringing would be like totally festive. Jingles bells and all.

Sadly, though, the jingling will be coming to a halt TODAY.  It is bah humbug time as the Program Committee close the sack and wander off to their various lairs to peruse its contents. So, if you have a submission that you were thinking about, and you’ve been putting it on the long finger, now is the time to get that finger out and submit your abstract.

Enough of the reminders. This year we picked up Donald Smith by his ankles and shook him and enough money fell out to fund a Program Committee Top Five Early Bird Pick competition, wherein awesome Eclipse schwag would be deployed to a lucky few. The talks were selected to be great representatives of the different topics, styles and directions that the PC is looking for this year.

The ever-on-the-button Don has already blogged about the winners. No doubt he was a little miffed when we couldn’t settle on just five talks and had to shake him again to get enough funding for a sixth!

Reminder! Submit your EclipseCon Talks Now!

For extra-special goodness, and to get all you potential presenters off your collective keister, we have a little bonus going here. If you get your talk in today, 10 December 2009, before about 1800 Pacific Time, we, the ever-hard-working EclipseCon Program Committee, have the opportunity to pick 5 Talks of Awesomeness and Timeliness from the current tally of submissions.

These talks will receive some universally coveted Eclipse schwag in recognition of their their awesomeness and their timeliness. The PC will be up all hours over the weekend haggling over the winners with the intention to announce on 14th December. There are no lobbying guidelines in place!

There’s news on the keynotes too - check the conference page - what can I say here, except if you like Programming, Space or Robots, we are catering to you.

A short post on EclipseCon 2010

[Update - once you read this, go check out this entry in Don’s blog for some extra goodies!]

The submission floodgates have been opened on EclipseCon 2010, and you have until December 18 to get your submissions in to attend the usual West Coast extravaganza of all things Eclipse and OSGi. Go for it.

I’ve been seriously quiet about the conference, even though I’m Program Chair and should be running around shouting about it. If you are following me on twitter, or searching on the #eclipsecon hashtag you will have seen a few leaking tweets over the past little while. But here, now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, is a little more information. This marks the point from where you may begin the countdown to the insufferability of /me on this topic.

The Committee of The Caring

The Program Chair does get to innovate a little bit on the approach and set-up of the spirit of the conference and some of the structures that will support same. This person also gets to pick the Program Committee, a shower of dedicated and committed professionals with a overweening fondness for Eclipse and that most qualifying of characteristics – they care. I don’t mean that in a fluffy-cardigan-cuddles-and-tissues kind of way. I mean it in the way that if you try to mess with their relationship with Eclipse, they care enough to see you outside in the car park, toot sweet. You know what I’m talking about.

What’s Different This Year?

Back to the innovation piece. When Bjorn announced the conference way back in July 09, the first little peep of innovation squeaked out. This was the themes. I think it’s important that we create themes that directly address the Eclipse Ecosystem’s three constituencies - consumers, contributors and community.

  • Making with Eclipse – you are consuming Eclipse open source software to build your own products, internal or external to your organization. You could even be selling them and making pots of cash, which is good. You want to come to this conference and see what people in the same boat as you are doing, what new innovations have come to light that you can use to speed up your processes and potentially reduce your costs and to show everyone how cool the stuff you’ve made happens to be.
  • Making for Eclipse – you are a contributor or a committer, you write code, or docs, or both. Maybe your language skills mean you do translations. In some way you are injecting some of your expertise and time in to enhancing and extending the corpus of Eclipse creativity. You’re here to show people the awesome stuff that you are producing and adding to the Eclipse Ecosystem, as well as to teach people APIs, announce new projects and talk about project directions.
  • Making Community – one of the most important things at a conference is the fact that you have many human meteors zinging around the halls bumping into each other and exchanging information. You’re here to meet your forums and IRC buddies face-to-face, or to have a full-duplex discussion with a group telling them why they should take a certain path, or to finally grab a project lead and suss out exactly how such-and-such a weird API works.
But what about the technology, I hear some shriek, won’t someone please think of the technology? High level themes like the above are not enough to navigate a conference the size of EclipseCon. When you go to the submission system, you have a whole passel of tags that will help you mark your talk. If you are looking for something in particular, you can search the talks using the tags too. You think maybe we need more tags? Let me know on a comment here, or address yourself to @oisin in tweetenland.

Yes, we’ve got ski ratings too. If your talk is totally hard-core, you should give it a double-diamond marking to set expectations. People with dashed expectations sometimes get a little heavy-handed with the -1 cards. Don’t worry about marking your talk as being at the easiest level, the Program Committee wants talks at all levels for all comers.

Types of Talks

Here’s where things get a bit more interesting. I made a post at EclipseCon 2009 where I blew the lid off the story that I had been at some boring talks. Yikes! I got a bit of ribbing for that, as you can imagine, so look out for the case of rotten fruit wherever I do Eclipse talks. When I got this Program Chair gig, I had a few chats with a few people, looked at a number of presentations and proposed to the Program Committee that this time around we are going to savagely cut the number of hour-long talks. This will cut waffle. It will cut meandering code walk-throughs. It will cut monster slide-decks. Your talk will be clear, sharp, to the point. You will say all you want to say and you will do it in twenty-five minutes.  There will be applause at the conciseness of your perspicacity, and you will be mobbed by well-wishers in the halls. Seriously.

Here’s the nitty-gritty details of the talk sizes

  • Lightning Talk – it’s a Blitz. You have twelve point five minutes to do your thing. Get up there and show that crazy mash-up you’ve constructed, tell me what’s new in your project, shoe me the result and give me a page-o-links so I can find out more. I’ll find you and bug you if I have questions.
  • Standard Talk – this is the twenty-five minuter. You know the score already.
  • Extended Talk – I never said there were going to be no long talks, just that we would be culling their population. An Extended Talk is fifty minutes long. You don’t just get one easy as pie. The Program Committee will be scrutinizing the submissions and you will need to get over a high bar to get an Extended Talk accepted. These guys are professionals and can smell over-stretched talk like a shark smells blood in the water. Top tips – don’t leave your abstract until the last hour before the call for submission ends and then bang it out fast; do link to a paper or document giving more information about your talk; do expand on details in the comments section of the submission; do produce slideware early; do have multiple presenters construct a connected whole from two pieces of cloth; do show some demonstration applications.
  • Tutorials – you know these guys. A tutorial can be two or three hours long.
  • Panels – you might know these guys from previous EclipseCons or other conferences. Panels are chancy - they can be dull, but there’s nothing better than a good, disputative panel to get people engaged. The Program Committee will be working hard to make sure the Panels won’t have a dull moment in their one hour length.
  • Unconference – you’ve heard of these, right? Ever been to a BarCamp? If you haven’t, don’t worry. What we are talking about here is a participant-driven conference space in the evenings - it’s like the base class of a BoF. The idea is that you can get some space to do a short talk or meeting, you put the subject up on a notice board and people turn up, or not. We’re still putting the details together on the logistics for this one, so hang in there for a future blog entry.
Conference Structure

I think this is the most interesting part. An EclipseCon day is a long, long day, especially if you have travelled a distance and it can be tough to keep the concentration levels up, despite liberal caffeination. The best way to stave off that all-conferenced-out feeling is to ensure that there is a mix of things going on during the day. So I’ve applied a bit of innovation to the structure of the conference itself.  We kick off in the morning with either a tutorial, or a keynote followed by a tutorial. Get your learning on. After lunch, it’s talk sessions. Sit back and listen, or ask questions. End of the day, it’s Panels. Ask questions, get engaged in a conversation. Evening time, it’s the Unconference. Did something inspire you during the day? Grab a podium and talk about it! Maybe someone agrees with you, or maybe the opposite. You can go and blog the day later on.

That’s the short description of what’s going to go down this year. I’ll follow up with more detailed articles on submissions, panels, tutorials, unconference and all that. Your comments are welcome. Ask questions, write your own blog entries. While you are doing that, I’ll be over here, watching the submission system.

...then *four* come at once

Arg - I haven’t had a blog entry in a month! I’m sure at this point that the Marketing Dept have opened the Big Book of Slaps and are thumbing their way towards the end of the list, their quill well-charged and dripping with ink the colour of fresh arterial blood. Or something. But now I have three four things to mention.

FUSE Integration Designer 1.2.1 Released! We’ve pushed out an update to the 1.2 release we did in May. It’s a little point release, primarily about fixing bugs (and the team got through over 100 JIRAs!) but we have managed to sneak in a few improvements, including support in the palette for FTP/SFTP, XSLT and Timer endpoints. Check out the release notes for the full skinny. The download page continues to be in the same place.

One thing to note - if you are updating your existing 1.2 installation from the update site, there’s a small speed bump that turned up at the last second. Make sure that you read the installation notes for some instructions on how to make the update work smoothly for you.

FUSE Forge Open For Business Yes, we’ve made our own Forge - a chunk of infrastructure to support projects that want to extend or apply the various FUSE technologies in whatever way makes sense. Initial reactions appear positive. I’m hoping I can use it for a bit of crowdsourcing action - I’ve set up a  FUSE Integration Designer Samples project, with the plan to add sample projects which illustrate some of the capabilities of the tool. If you have any examples you would like to share, let me know and we can put them up there!

If you have been watching the development of Apache Felix Karaf, and thought to yourself, you know, that’s just another one of them there OSGi containers with some tinsel, ekcetera, you are right. Stephen Evanchik spotted this too, but he went one step further and started creating Eclipse code to treat A.F. Karaf as an Eclipse Target Platform.  Very recently, he migrated this code to the EPL-licensed EIK Project at FUSE Forge, which is fantastic. I’m looking forward to hacking on this stuff with him.

But wait! There’s more! Lukasz, developer of the ServiceMixIde project had been following Stephen’s progress and decided that he would like to bring his code base to the project, too. This is a better start than I could have imagined. Right now we’re getting bootstrapped, code is going in, build systems need to get made (banging Maven and Eclipse rocks together), web sites, CI and all that good stuff.

FUSE Integration Designer Webinar I’ll be doing a webinar, as it is known, on Tuesday 21st July to show how you can use the FUSE Integration Designer to make services, wire together mediation routes and poke around at JMS queues. The times are available on the FUSE Webinars page - yes, it’s happening twice in the one day, and both times it will be live and unexpurgated! Who knows what will happen?

Yikes! I just agreed to be Program Chair for EclipseCon 2010! This should be interesting.

Insert Lightsabre Noise Here

Just a quick announcement this time around - the guys at the FUSE Forge have just started up Project LightSabre, which is a distributed version of the OSGi EventAdmin (example) service, using Apache ActiveMQ as the event distribution mechanism. It’s been tested on Equinox and Apache Felix, but it should work on other OSGi implementations too. It’s licensed with the Apache 2.0 license

[caption id=“attachment_124” align=“aligncenter” width=“300” caption=“Zoom! See the events go!”]Zoom! See the events go![/caption]

Read the Getting Started guide for more information on how to get going with this.

Update: ECF has followed on with a similar implementation at Distributed Eventadmin Service using the same technologies with a difference license. Fair play!

Announcing: FUSE Integration Designer 1.2

Phew. It’s out the door. FUSE Integration Designer 1.2 is now available for download.

This release follows on from a couple of preview releases that we ran to gauge our approaches and get feedback. And we got plenty of it, in all flavours.

You might already know what FUSE is about - it’s four popular Apache projects (ActiveMQ, Camel, CXF, ServiceMix), bundled together into a single offering with subscription-based support from Progress Software. These four projects bring together capabilities around messaging, Web services, message mediation and the ESB concept, the idea being to give you a grab-bag of goodies that make sense when you are trying to solve integration problems.

As you might imagine, it’s an interesting task to put together a toolset that lets you blend these technologies in way that can suit every integration issue. In our preview versions, we concentrated on visualization and debugging of Camel routes and creation of Web services. I think the first thing we learned was that users tended to hit the limits of the tool far too quickly - the routes, for example, had a limited set of capabilities that was outstripped by what Camel had to offer. So we concentrated on making sure that the tool could handle any (1.5 or 1.6) route configuration you could throw at it. Let me know if you break it :)

We also filled in some glaring holes in the preview - you can now deploy your Web services to ServiceMix 3.x and ServiceMix 4.x containers, for example, and we have put in some tools that will let you rummage around inside your ActiveMQ message broker, introspect the queues and topics, inject messages for testing and snoop on messages that are going by. You can save and reload your state too, so it’s possible to set up and share a set of messages and configurations for testing or joint review.

There’s more, of course.

The previews were delivered solely as an Eclipse update site, which could be a bit of a bear to interact with. This time around, you download zip files that have everything - Eclipse core, dependencies, FUSE code, the works. They are big ok, but it means that you get everything in one swoop. There’s online help in there, and some cheatsheets to get you started.

Try it out - download is here, forum is here - and let us know what you think.

What next? The radar is moving on to things like JAX-RS tooling, Camel 2.0 support (runtimes go faster than tools, that’s why they are called runtimes, natch), getting a deep integration with m2eclipse and such like other tasty treats. If you’ve got a hankering for anything particular, let it be known in our tools forum.

By-the-by, since we are all Twittertastic these days, you can get more FUSE news by subscribing to @fusenews or indeed subject yourself to my edgy waffling at @oisin.