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.

Intermittent Bug in Eclipse Community

This bug has been cropping up on and off since Eclipse 3.2. The usual pattern is that it becomes visible early in the year to the Planning Council, who immediately attempt to triage it and limit the potential solution space so that resolution can be made as cheaply as possible. Because Eclipse is an open organization, and is populated by humans, who are in the main scurrilous gossipers and rumour-mongers, awareness of the bug expands in the community as a whole. A Bugzilla is usually created to give the community the opportunity to cosmologically inflate the solution space through the time-honoured approach of getting your oar in.

Eventually, broad interest wanes, and the determination comes back the Planning Council again, who, disappointed that no really clear solution has come out of the community involvement, many eyes == many opinions it appears, just sigh and put a workaround in. Next year the same sequence of events occur.

This year, it’s bug 271054, but the problem is the same.

What do we call the next roll-up release after Galileo?

Comments about bike sheds will be modded up appropriately.

Eclipse 2009 Thursday

Nearly there. This is the final article in a tetralogy of tardy tales from EclipseCon 2009. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to the end of this, where I can put a big scratch mark through my notes and call them done.

Thursday 26th March

OSGi Dual Talks: Clouds + Bundle Generation

This dual talk turned into a singleton due to the US immigration office who didn't manage to get a travel visa to the presenter in time for the conference. There seemed to be a lot of this about. Because I'm on the programme committee, I got to see a number of emails, and there was a couple of tweets too, where developers with Eastern European-style names didn't get replies on their visas in a timely fashion. Further research indicates that the immigration people are guiding 150 days in advance application for scientific/technical conference travel visas. So, as the Irish Girl Guides say bí ullamh - be prepared: either get your application in early, or change your name.

Back to the cloud. Alexsey showcased some interesting tech around managing and deploying bundles into Amazon EC2, as well as discussing some of the security issues. There's a lot of this about too. Many companies are constructing their own tools around deployment and management into Amazon and private clouds, using OSGi technology as a handy enabler for standardized packaging and lifecycle. The scale of the activity was brought into sharp relief when I got to sit in on an OSGi Tools meeting on Friday morning. Conclusion - moderately interesting. Next step - wait for someone to develop a standard application model for OSGi.

Conquering GEF: Creating well designed graphical editors and bringing them to the Web

Over in FUSE-land, we've got a lot of software that use graph models. Integration graphs, dependency graphs, pipelines, that kind of thing. Graphs are great for visualizing, but when you've got the job of doing this for both browser and IDE based tools, then you start looking for ways to minimize your code base forkage. The RAP guys have done a great job in bringing SWT to the Web. If there was a chance that GEF, or better still Zest, could be brought to the Web, then that would be full of win. That's why I went to this talk, which was standing room only.

Once more, this was a talk of two halves. The first half was a kind of a playbook for GEF, and while that was moderately interesting from the point of view of a useful summary of the trials and errors of getting GEF right, the real meat was in the second part of the talk. Here, Vineet brought us from a GEF editor running in a workbench, to the same editor working in a standalone form without a workbench, to the same editor working in a browser. Very cool. The only downside here is that it's early days for the work, and there are issues that need to be resolved as well as features that need to be added. The way that it happens behind the scenes is that the original GEF code is compiled to ActionScript (some manual intervention required if there's name clashes) and then that ActionScript is the thing that gets rendered in the browser window. Definitely worth looking into as it matures. Conclusion - very interesting. Next step - come back and check this out after the summer.

Eclipse Swordfish - an open source SOA runtime framework for the enterprise

Swordfish is Eclipse's very own ESB - you can't have an open source community without one - and builds upon Apache ServiceMix and Apache CXF with some added-value capabilities and services. One neat technological advance they have in there is an extensible framework for dynamically generating interceptor chains which are installed in the Normalized Message Router to mediate message exchange. Now there's a statement that only makes sense to probably about ten people, all of whom are already too busy writing in their own blogs to notice it and marvel at its awesome niche techiness. So it goes. For everyone else, I'll offer the statement that this enables policy-driven behaviour. The ESB is OSGi-based, and uses JBI (also not as dead as people think) as the way to bundle up units of function. Conclusion - very interesting. Next step - must try it out a bit.

Afterwards, I said to Oliver that it was a good presentation, but probably a bit too much technical detail towards the end. He reminded my that the last time he did a presentation I had told him it was too high-level. He then asked was it possible to make me happy. I replied in the negative.

There's always an issue with demonstrating middleware. It is not interesting to some people to see command windows and logs - the MEGO effect is immediately apparent. It's like demonstrating intestines. All you have to look at is the output, and it's not really that pleasant. Ideally, you could take a chunk of intestine out, and attach electrodes to it, then you could pop your microphone in one end, throw the power switch and the induced peristalsis would rocket the mic out the other end, where you could catch it in an amusing manner. I bet you would get a whole lot of +1s for that demo. But you can't do that with middleware, alas.

SOA Ecosystems

Yet another one of these curated talks - I've got feedback on the plus, minus and meh sides of the argument on this model for talks, so I'm interested in what y'all think. Leave a comment with your, er, comment. I'll bring it back to the programme committee.

This started off badly because I turned up late to introduce it. Zsolt had already started Eclipse Community Registry, a building block to foster the adoption of the Eclipse Runtime and I'd swear that I got a few filthy looks from Adrian. Sorry, guys. This community registry that Zsolt was talking about sounded like a super-duper version of EPIC - but for services. It's a service registry with handy stuff like tagging, voting, commentary and the like. Zsolt made sure to point out that this is just an idea at the moment, it's not a project as yet, he's just putting it out there to see what people think. Conclusion - interesting. Next step - wait and see.

The second talk, galaxy, an open agile platform using dynamic software architecture continued the theme of long talk names, and removed the convention of capitalization. This was a consumer style of talk - Fy brought us through a fairly large-scale initiative being explored by INRIA to construct a development platform that integrates open standard technologies, includes an agile design and modeling environment, and ensure direct feedback to the design from a monitoring infrastructure. It looks neat, and my first thought was that well, this is a long way off. But it turns out there's a date on it, in Q4 2010, so that makes it more interesting. Conclusion - very interesting. Next step - keep an eye on what's going on.

Personal applause for Fy because he did a presentation which was almost completely pictures! Yay!

The final event of the day, and the conference, was The Eclipse Community Spotlight. It's the same every year, the top-level project leads, or their designated PMC representative get to sit in front of the whole crowd and answer questions. Every year, Doug Gaff does the lyrics of Baby Got Back sotto voce into one of the mics before they are switched on. This year, we found out exactly how much Eclipse real estate David Williams (WTP lead) owns - all of our base is pretty much belong to him.

That's it for this year. As per usual it's all great fun, and there was visits to one of the best Thai restaurants in the area, one or two great socializing occasions at receptions and bars, and awesome high-bandwidth interactions with people that can help me solve issues, forge alliances, explain concepts, and such important things. Ultimately, huge thanks are due to Bjorn, Scott, Anne and the rest of the extended team that made this all happen.

(Don't forget to take the survey!)

EclipseCon 2009 - Wednesday

Today I continue my week-in-arrears retrospective of the EclipseCon 2009. Authors often mumble into their whiskey about the tyranny of the blank page, but I feel that the full page (of partially illegible notes) is equally tyrannical. And I have no whiskey either.

Just a quick concerned citizen-o-gram by the way, please go and fill out the EclipseCon Survey, paying special attention to the the areas that you would like to see improve. It's important for the program committee next year.

Wednesday 25 March

Building Applications for the Cloud with Amazon

This was the keynote first thing in the morning. I was impressed with Don MacAskill's shoes, and the way that they run SmugMug on Amazons cloudtastical offering. I experience a veritable frisson at the new EC2 deploy and debug tools that Amazon have created for Eclipse. It uses Webtools' server framework and deployment mechanism to allow you to deploy your webservices to machine instances running in EC2, and it allows you to debug them as they run. Very neat. Limited to Tomcat at the moment, I'm sure it'll be no time at all when you will suddenly see it working for things like FUSE ESB and FUSE MR to name but two, 'nuff said. Conclusion - interesting plus frisson. Next step - extend Amazon code to deploy to FUSE ESB instances.

What's Baking in the WTP Incubator

was a little curated number intended to act as a showcase for some new projects that are growing in the WTP Incubator project. In a session of two halves, Shane Clarke gave us an insight into Developing JAX-WS Web Services - this is a new piece of tooling that enhances the dynamic web project approach of WTP so that it's easy to create JAXWS services. I'm biased, since we consume this stuff in FUSE and I'm a committer on the project, but Shane has done a maximum awesome job here, I can't recommend the man highly enough. Unfortunately, this looked like it was a two-hour talk that had to be jammed into twenty-five minutes, so I'm sure that there's plenty we didn't get to see. Conclusion - awesome. Next step - update the Apache CXF wiki with details of this.

Next element in the showcase Incubating XML Security Tools. This incubator project contains a set of capabilities for dealing with various XML Security standards, like partial encryption, signing and the like. The author, Dominik, originally constructed this as an e-learning thing, for people that wanted to experiment with XML Security and see how it all worked. It works pretty well for that, but I'm not sure if there are public APIs in place which would allow you drive the encryption processes programmatically. That would be of more value than the user-driven version. Conclusion - interesting. Next step - somebody translate the help from German please!

From source to automated builds with Buckminster and p2

Buckminster is the software assembly tool that we use to do the STP builds, and it has served us well over the past couple of years, so I was interested to see what has happened recently, given all of the p2 stuff going on, and Eclipse release train requirements around packing and signing and all that. Good news - there's a recent version of Buckminster that is p2ized and fully kitted out for packing and signing headless builds. Just what the doctor ordered. I would rush off to try it out immediately, but I'm stuck here writing in this damn blog. A footnote on the presentation - the subject matter is a little esoteric, but Henrik did a good job explaining it in a way that didn't dive deep into the details - except perhaps with the CSPEX thing. Conclusion - w00t. Next step - update to the Magic Buckminster and plumb in my STP generic build system, then blog about it.

Higher-level UI programming

Intriguing title on this session. Perhaps we were to be shown how to program UIs by pure radiant thought alone? Or perhaps we were going to see some Epic-class characters showing us how to do our UI? This was a two-session talk again. First up was UFaceKit - A highlevel Databinding and Widget-Toolkit-Abstraction - the motivation behind this particular piece of work is to provide a higher-level widget toolkit abstraction that can be successfully mapped to alternate widget toolkit implementations, like Swing, GWT, SWT and the like. UFaceKit is now an Eclipse project. Conclusion - interesting. Next step - keep an eye for an opportunity to experiment.

The second talk in the showcase was UI designers : Untangle the knots, use EMF (live) models! (yes, there was an entertaining selection of session titles this year for some reason). We got to see an EMF model representing an SWT UI rendered, live, with instant updates to the UI as you tweaked the model. Very nice. The code that does this is an open source declarative UI framework (ye gods, another one) called Wazaabi. Conclusion - me like! Next step - use this for kick-starting mockups at least.

Eclipse and Maven

This next session was one that I was particularly looking forward to. Eclipse, Maven and how they interact is a persistent thorn in my side - always has been - so I was going to this session in the hope that there will be some release from the anguish. There are two Eclipse and Maven projects at the Foundation, and this session was split into two parts to align with the projects. Some people came along hoping for celebrity deathmatch - I just wanted some solutions.

I'm not going to go into the details of the sessions - I can summarize with m2eclipse FTW, apologies to Phil and Brett and Carlos, but m2eclipse is really ploughing resources into this and is moving ahead with a much more complete and broad solution. Conclusion - m2eclipse FTW. Next step - I think I'll have to start committing to this when it moves onto Foundation turf.

I got the chance to have a sit-down chat with Jason of the m2eclipse project later in the day and we talked about where it was going, and I asked some questions about how I can incorporate the thing into the FUSE Tools and meet the double goal of providing a means for developers to move in a frictionless manner from snappy Eclipse builders to Maven CBI approaches and not suffer terrible brain-damage. Jason gave me enough confidence that this will happen, but it's going to require some work. I'll pick up that thread again in another blog entry.

EclipseCon Thru The Lens

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EclipseCon 2009 - Tuesday

As usual, day one back from a conference has disappeared in a miasma of hurried catchups, email rationalizations and a numbing sensation of generalized low-grade horror.

Day two must mean the summary of the conference experience. I'm looking at my twenty-four pages of notes with mounting distress at the level of detail. Some ruthless editing is in order. I've previously written about the Monday line-up, and followed with a partially incendiary post that spiked my stats and has probably ensured that I will have a crowd around me at my next talk. Remember, everyone, that pitchforks are sharp and flaming torches are hazardous items indoors.

Tuesday 24 March

Enterprise Build System: Model Driven Architecture on PDE Build runtime

At some point in the past, Kagan's company had constructed an Eclipse tool for our service testing framework, so I was recommended to go along to this talk. I got to see about fifteen minutes of it before being interrupted by a call that I couldn't defer. Unfortunately, this meant missing the demo part. Overall the subject matter looked interesting. It addresses the issue of constructing Eclipse builds and products, which, for some unknown reason is more difficult than it should be - mostly it's the failure modes that are impenetrable. However, because of my vendor/consumer hat, the profusion of build approaches fills me with more trepidation than delight. You know the feeling - you're watching the Cambrian explosion here, much experimentation of body plans and capabilities, and you are all positive but really you are gritting your teeth waiting for the Pliocene to arrive so you can use the stuff in anger. Conclusion - interesting. Next step - contribution to Athena maybe?

Executing BPMN

Koen Aers presented this session, wherein BPMN was hung within an inch of its life, cut down from the scaffold, eviscerated on the windlass, had its intestines burnt in front of its eyes and finally had its corpse quartered and dispatched to points north, south, east and west. My little joke. It wasn't that sort of execution at all. Basically he showed how jBPM 4 can execute your BPMN-described models. He gave a quick intro to the charmingly retro little grayscale icons used by BPMN. Koen also said that the BPM/Workflow is a jungle of standards. I think he understated the case a little. It's probably more like the particle decay cloud that emerges from the collision point of two positron beams, except a lot slower. Hopefully convergence will occur at some point in our lifetimes. Conclusion - informative. Next step - /me will leave this kind of thing up to the experts.

SOA Track Set

Here we go. This is the collection of short talks that I was curating. The point of these tiny talks was to bring people up to speed with what's going on in the SOA Tools Platform project. Jerry spoke about the STP Policy Editor New and Noteworthy - not too much changed here, but some interesting elements have been added to help you edit Distributed OSGi remote services configuration files. Next up was /me with Enterprise Integration Designer: New and Noteworthy - this is where I got to practice being the bearer of bad news. This component is currently sleeping deeply, with no real effort being made to support it except by yours truly. A plea for help ensued, complete with cute puppy picture. Want to contribute? Take a look at the Wiki and get in touch! In a carefully-planned sweetener to disperse the bitter aftertaste induced by bad news, Vincent then presented SCA Tools: new & noteworthy. Now this project is really lively and is constantly adding new features. They've made some changes around the capability to extend the metamodel with new SCA artifacts and included an XML editor for defining composites and component types. Above and beyond the immediate application to SCA runtimes like Tuscany and Frascati, I think that this tool has great potential to help people construct composite applications in this brave new OSGi world we are entering. Finally, Adrian brought us up to date on Integration of SOA Editors in Eclipse using the STP Intermediate Model. There's another big potential here as the basis for a SOA-style repository model. Conclusion - you tell me. Next step - this will be the subject of another post!

Practical Process Orchestration using Eclipse SOA

In this talk, Dietmar introduced us to some of the BPEL-y stuff that he's been working on, based off the Eclipse BPEL project. If you view the stats, this talk got totally panned, with a lot of -1s. Two things come to mind straightaway. First, I think that the material in the talk wasn't really quite ready for presentation. If an attendee wanted to go off and do some work with this, they needed to download and build the BPEL project first. That's ok in my book, but many attendees might expect to be served their meal on a plate, rather than being handed a bag of raw meat and other ingredients. Personal taste applies, but know your audience. Second, the stats seem off. Last time I looked, I didn't see any +0 votes in the stats for this talk, and there was at least one - mine. So I'm not so sure accurate reporting has occurred here. Conclusion - somewhat confusing. Next step - tighten up and have downloads.

I think there will need to be an aside soon on the Eclipse BPEL project. Not now though. There's more sessions. No wonder we were all hosed at the end of the week.

Eclipse SOA Initiative

This was a quick intro from Ricco about a nascent initiative to produce an industry-aligned working group in Eclipse about all SOA things. More on that as it gains more support and strength later. And, for those of you who are quick to turn around and say that SOA is dead, I have two words for you: Ker. Ching. That will be all. Conclusion - watch this space.

Galileo: delivering the next major release

Last talk of the day. Rich and Markus lead us through the Galileo build, and dammit, the room is out the door again. Grr. Since I spend time looking inside the guts of this particular monster, I bailed early, before the funk started to rise in the room. Conclusion - I know where the bodies are buried already. Next step - keep shovelling.

At that point I retired to the bar for beer and sushi with some other Progressians. Having a distributed organization, and in an environment where the travel budget fairies have gone to the bad, conferences can provide valuable meet-up opportunities. The Wednesday writeup shall ensue...

Some Opinions About EclipseCon Talks That Will No Doubt Be Unpopular

In watching the presentations this year, it has come to my attention that some of them are boring. Yes, I know this will be an unpopular opinion, but I was startled enough by it that I thought I had to share.

I have always asserted that as a presenter, your primary role is to entertain. That is, you want to ensure that the arses stay on the seats until you get your point across, and when you do get that point across you want people to be engaged, with their brains on.

Remember, presenter - I have Twitter now. I can amuse myself if you are not amusing me. But haven’t I come for content? Sure, but if I enjoyed the presentation, then I’ll be happy with a bunch of recommended links.

Now unfortunately, there are some topics that are inherently dull and uninteresting in their own right, although this does vary with personal taste. For example, even the merest mention of BPEL gets me right into that day-dream about being out on the golf course on a sunny day.

Or, come to think of it, the one about chainsaws, which I won’t elucidate here.

You are kind of doomed with those type of topics - you had better hope that the attendance contains a cadre of narrow-niche hardcore heads who love it from their own particular perspective. But it will - unless you get the conference wrong.

Ok, so you have a topic thats intrinsic novelty has not put you at a disadvantage. Hypothetical example, Editing Tools for SmoochML Documents. The first mistake to make would be to say “First I will introduce the SmoochML standard”. Dude, if I didn’t know what it was, I wouldn’t be in your talk. You are a developer, so I understand your need to do obsessive corner-case coverage, but, you know, you’re actually off-topic. And then you might complain that you are running out of time at the end. Sympathy, I know thee not.

This is why I like short talks (although ten minutes is too short) - there’s no time for a gentle introduction, it’s off the cliff, into the sea, down as deep as you can go, and then pop out of the water panting and hollering. Forget beach entry.

If you are doing a fifty-minute talk, then I recommend you get in there with a good narrative. Set up a dramatic situation - what was the problem? What would be the consequence of failure? You must create several thousand SmoochML documents in 24 hours, or the Joker is going to blow up a hospital. And, all you have is three dozen red pandas that the programmers inadvertently left behind over the weekend. Yikes!

Next step is to resolve the conflict, tell the story, how did you deliver using the Editing Tools for SmoochML project? Just tell it. Then once it’s all over, go back over a few things and drill into them a little more. People will be more engaged - they may even ask some questions rather than sitting there breathing shallowly with glossy little eyes.

Good luck.

Oh, and go check out the stats for the talks and see if you can spot the ones where people weren’t engaged.

EclipseCon 2009 - Monday

It’s 7am Wednesday morning in Santa Clara, CA. Breakfast is on its way and I’m trying to sort my schedule for the day ahead at EclipseCon 2009.

The last couple of days have been busy. Not as busy as previous years - there’s a marked downturn in the attendance due to corporate travel bans and a seeming go-slow in the US Immigration Dept responsible for issuing travel visas.

On tutorial day, Monday, I attended a PDE builds/Athena builder tutorial. Peak learning came from Andrew Niefer (the last PDE build guy standing) whos skilled explanations painted a picture of PDE build not so much as the be-tentacled monstrosity many believe it is. Top tip - think of PDE as a framework for generating Ant scripts.

Nick has slides and comments on his blog.

Verdict: early days yet, but potential there. Looks like most of the presentation to the user is going to be a minimized properties file plus a conventional project structure. It’s ok. Work to be done with tests etc.

I’d planned to attend the p2 tutorial in the afternoon, but turned up three minutes late (lunchtime visit to Apple store, natch) and the place was rammed.

Rant ensues - we do need to get sorted on room allocations. The p2 thing is popular, since it was forced down our throats last year, and it was in a small room. Downstairs, there were huge rooms with a dozen people scattered about. Grr.

In the heel of the hunt, I went to the Domain-specific Language Development talk, which turned out to be a good learner (the pain). I actually twigged how GMF works at last. The concern is that I may have lossed SAN points in the process - I’ve often remarked how learning the many Eclipse frameworks closely mirrors character progression in the Call of Chthulu RPG. What’s more, I learned about model tranformation with Operational QVT, which is good - will use it. I zoned out during the Xpand piece (jetlag).

Top tip to presenters - Address your audience, not your slides. The slides can’t beat you with sticks for a bad delivery. Ask your audience how they are doing now and then: are they following? Have they got the ellipse in the node mapping done yet? Do they need a minute to regenerate the model because they are newbies at reading your mind? That would be a good start.

To wind it up, I got fingered by The Powers That Be to do powerpoint karaoke session with the inimitable Mik Kersten of Mylyn fame (going to have to get that integrated with FUSE tools). We presented a new framework for identity theft in the cloud. ROFLMAOs there were in abundance.

Back to the schedule selection. At this point in my career I had expected to have mastered basic bi-location, but haven’t, so I thinking of relying on oscillating between sessions. Tuesday update later on. Don’t forget there will be tweetin’ ahead - #eclipsecon.

BPMN Modeler Demo

Last week, Antoine Toulmé hosted a live action demo of the BPMN Modeler Project. It’s been recorded, and you can catch up with at Eclipse Live. Eclipse Live has turned out to be a pretty cool resource, and I’m promising myself I’ll spend more time hanging out there, and might even do some video.

If you think that the demo is going to be all about BPMN and possibly a little too dull for your bytecode-wielding brain, fast forward a bit to where Antoine talks about extending and changing the modeler for your own needs. You’ll be deep in the code at that point and finding out about the awesome GMF chops that went into making the modeler what it is.

Check out the collection of screenshots here to see some of the possibilities.

[caption id=“attachment_71” align=“alignnone” width=“500” caption=“Due Diligence Process”]Due Diligence Process[/caption]

Developing Silverlight clients for CXF using JAX-WS Tools

I just found out that the eclipse4SL, a development environment for creating RIAs with Microsoft Silverlight, is using JAX-WS Tools for Apache CXF. In the linked how-to, the guys show how to develop a Silverlight client that accesses a Java Web service. Nice!