Dave Johnson on open web technologies, social software and Java
One year ago on this day I wrote that Sun Microsystems is willing to contribute Project SocialSite" to the Apache Software Foundation. My contacts at Sun told me it was OK to make that announcement because a VP approved. One year later, we have established Apache SocialSite (incubating) project, setup user accounts, put up a status page and setup source code control but we still have no code from Sun.
Since March 2009 I've been exchanging emails with my helpful contacts at Sun and trying to help them move forward with the contribution, but because of the ongoing Oracle/Sun merger things have moved incredibly slowly. Finally in late December 2009, my Sun contacts had permission to actually release the code to Apache, but there was a problem.
When Sun said that they were willing to contribute the SocialSite code to Apache, I figured that they would do so using the standard Software Grant agreement that was used for Roller and all other projects entering Apache via the Incubator. Unfortunately, the Sun lawyers did not want to use the standard Software Grant agreement and Apache did and does not want to devise a new legal agreement just to accommodate Sun. That's where we stand today. Sun committed to contributing SocialSite to Apache and now we're waiting for Oracle/Sun to follow through on that commitment.
Meanwhile, others have been making some progress with SocialSite. A major sports brand has launched a SocialSite based network with a million-plus users. A couple of developers have rewritten the build script to use Maven, others have "ported" to JBoss and there is still interest in and a need for what was Sun's Project SocialSite. Neither effort has contributed code back to SocialSite-proper and because of legal concerns are waiting for the main code to appear at Apache.
SocialSite is a small project and it will not survive for much longer with resources spread across multiple sites and a community working separately. So, I'm asking again and publicly: Oracle, please follow through on your commitment and grant the Project SocialSite codebase to Apache.
(I just returned to work after vacation and a week of conferences in the SF bay area. Instead of posting my trip reports to the limited audience that reads my internal IBM blog, I'm going to post them here so that everybody can benefit from them.)
On Monday Nov. 2, I attended Social Web Camp at Sun's Santa Clara campus. There were about 40 people in attendance. The event was organized by Sun's Henry Story, an expert in semantic web technologies and inventor of the FOAF+SSL approach to implementing Social Networking features (relationship based privacy). Unfortunately, Henry was not able to attend the conference because he was detained by US immigration.
During the camp, I lead a session on OpenSocial using my "What's up with OpenSocial" slides from BarCampRDU. Surprisingly, very few people were familiar with OpenSocial, so this was an introductory level discussion.
I participated in a session on enterprise social networking and shared a little about we do with micro-blogging inside IBM, mentioning BlueTwit and the new features in Lotus Connections. A couple of folks from Boeing were present and described the home-grown social networking and micro-blogging system.
John Panzer of Google pitched his new Salmon protocol, a distributed commenting system that allows comments made on items in downstream systems (e.g. aggregators, social networks, FriendFeed, etc.) to find their way back upstream to the source item. The protocol is based, in part, on AtomPub. Comments are signed and posted back upstream. Seems like this could be useful in both Lotus Connections river of news feature, Jazz-based products and Roller; so I'll going to track this one closely. It might be fun to try to implement Salmon for Roller.
I missed a little of the conference because I had lunch with some of my former co-worker from Sun and I left a little early to return my vacation rental car and make my way to Oakland for ApacheCon US 2009. More about that later...
Crammed into one post...After a month of blog neglect, my automatic Latest Links from my Delicious.com account started to pile up. Back in the glory days of this blog, I blogged about things instead just saving links or tweeting about them. I realized that, by adding some commentary/opinion for each, I could turn a month's worth of links into a month's worth of blog posts and thus gain total absolution for my sin of going a full month without a post. So that's what I did. [Read More]
Since January, the future of https://socialsite.dev.java.net">Project SocialSite has been in the hands of the SocialSite community. During that time, I continued working on the project almost because I think it's got great potential and I would really like to see it live on in some form. That's also why I continued to talk to Sun about the project.
Today, I'm very happy to announce that Sun Microsystems is willing to contribute Project SocialSite to the Apache Software Foundation. It's not clear whether SocialSite should be contributed into Shindig or as a new incubator project, but either way I think this is the best thing for the project and will give it the best possible chances for building a thriving community. I've started some discussions about this on Apache-private mailing lists and I'll let you know what happens next.
This post brings to an end my series of posts about Shindig for blogs and wikis. Here are links to the earlier posts:
Even when you're mentally prepared for a layoff and you know it's probably for the best, its still a life-changing shock when it happens, a loss. It's hard not to feel fear, anger, sadness, self-recrimination and all those stages that fellow RIFee David Van Couvering blogged about. I still cycle through those, but not as frenetically as before.
I got over the sadness and fear part pretty quickly thanks to my tweeple, the very supportive network of friends, colleagues, former coworkers, etc. that's grown around my blog, my work at Sun, my involvement at Apache Software Foundation and my social network accounts like Twitter. I got the word out on Twitter first and word spread quickly. I posted to my blog and some very kind friends, Tim Bray, Ted Leung and Robert Donkin helped spread the word on their blogs and said some very nice things about me in the process. Within hours a flood of supportive tweets, emails and calls come rolling in, including about a dozen real live job leads.
So, thanks folks. I really appreciate the help. I'll keep you posted.
It was over four years ago when I discovered that Sun was using my software, Roller, to power blogs.sun.com. I was thrilled to go to work for the company back in 2004 and what an awesome cast of characters I've gotten to work with over the years. I really enjoyed the folks I worked with on the blogs.sun.com team, the open source folks and most recently, the Glassfish team -- some of the most talented and nicest folks I've ever worked with. It's been a great four and a half years but all good things must come to an end and today is the day.
I've been swept up in the latest round of Sun layoffs. Sun has decided to disinvest in Project SocialSite and as of today I'm free and available for employment. Though I do feel some urgency due to the bad economy, Sun's layoff package is pretty good and so I have some time to figure out what comes next and no need to make hasty decisions. Whatever I end up doing, I'll be blogging it here.
Oh, and about Apache Roller and Project SocialSite? I'm not ready to give up just yet. I'll be using a little of my time to do some mentoring and to move forward plans for Roller 5.0 this spring. And I see real value in the Project SocialSite "social-enable existing web sites" concept and I'm considering ways to move that forward as well, with or without Sun. I'm still giving my talk Shindig for Blogs & Wikis in March 2009 and, actually, I'm pretty happy I have some time right now to focus on those demos and slides.
Tim Bray: What Sun should do: Sun is going through a lousy spell right now. Well, so is the worldâ€™s economy in general and the IT business in particular, but this is about Sun. This is my opinion about what my employer should do about it.
It takes a lot of guts to write a piece like that and I'm really glad Tim did it. I'm going to walk out on the same limb and agree with pretty much everything Tim wrote. Tim wants Sun to focus like a laser on providing the best web platform around with Solaris, storage offerings, Java/Hotspot, Glassfish, MySQL and Netbeans for Java, Ruby, PHP, Groovy, etc. tooling. He writes:
Itâ€™s easy to understand how our servers, CMT and x86, and the Solaris OS, fit into the Web Suite. All the software, including the HotSpot, GlassFish, and MySQL runtimes, needs to be obsessively tuned and optimized to run best in the context of the Suite. Obviously, the Suite will also include Ruby and Python and PHP runtimes, similarly tuned.
All of Sunâ€™s software tooling should have a laser focus on usability, performance, and ease of adoption for the Web Suite.
I agree, but as a web geek I guess I'm pretty biased.
Tim doesn't shy away from the critical question of what Sun should stop doing. Tim says Sun should give up on the client-side, dropping JavaFX and JavaME (and OpenOffice too, I presume). Here's Tim on JavaFX:
For actual business apps, the kind that our servers spend most of their time running, the war for the desktop is over and the Web Browser won. I just totally donâ€™t believe that any combination of Flash and Silverlight and JavaFX is going to win it back.
I can't say I disagree with that either. Cutting JavaFX and JavaME would be extremely tough and painful decisions, but somebody's going to make to make some of those. Looking at things from Tim's web-platform-only point of view, they make sense. Sun needs only enough client-side software to keep Solaris attractive to developers and to support great development tools on all the platforms that web developers love.
Meena Vyas, Murthy Chintalapati and Allen Gilliland just published an article on BigAdmin that describes the architecture of blogs.sun.com, a Roller, Sun Web Server, Memcached and MySQL based site that averages 4 million hits a day with its two SunFire T2000 servers at 97% idle. You can get the article for free (registration required) here: Sun Blogs: A Sun Java System Web Server 7.0 Reference Deployment
I remember how freaked-out I was to see the referrer hits start rolling in (pun fully intended) from http://blogs.sun.com/roller. I can't believe it's been four years already. Thanks to Linda for the reminder.
By my count that's how many Apache members work at Sun. I thought I had a complete count, but Nick Kew's recent post revealed a sixth (see the comments). Here's the list:
Know of any other Sun employees that are Apache members?
It's great to be welcoming new folks to Sun, especially when they're brilliant people like Ted Leung and Nick Kew, both of whom, by the way, are members of the Apache Software Foundation. I met Ted at ApacheCon US 2004 in Vegas and he answered all my questions about the implications of moving Roller to the ASF. And I met Nick at ApacheCon EU 2006 in Dublin and we chatted, over a couple of pints of Guiness, about the perils and pleasures of working from home and other things.
I'm also pretty damn pleased to be part of the MySQL welcoming committee, AKA the SunVisor program, and paired-up with Chuck Bell of MySQL. He's the author of Expert MySQL. I'll be answering his questions about Sun and, I hope, learning a thing or two about MySQL in the process.
Welcome to Sun guys!
In case you're not following the Blackbox blog, the Sun Modular Data Center is coming to the Triangle on March 12, 2008. The event will be hosted at the SAS Institute campus in Cary, NC. Here's the blurb:
Join us and enjoy presentations and tours throughout the day of Sun's Modular Datacenter, the world's first datacenter in a box - a 6.1 meter (20 foot) shipping container. Also known as Project Blackbox, this is a virtualized datacenter optimized for extreme energy, space, and performance efficiency. It applies Sun's trademark innovation and network computing infrastructure expertise to engineer out complexity and provide a whole new alternative for quickly adding datacenter capacity anywhere it's needed, with the ability to move it as business needs change. Because of its modular, high density design, the Sun Modular Datacenter packs more heterogeneous compute power in less space than a traditional datacenter, and can be configured, deployed, and quickly modified and redeployed for another project virtually anywhere worldwide.
Interested? The sign up is here.
Kenai was announced yesterday at the Sun Analyst Summit (SAS 2008):
It was mentioned in Software VP Rich Green's presentation.
I think that's just about all I can say on the topic.
And by the way, the audio and slides for all of the SAS 2008 presentations are online now. Ian Murdock's presentation is especially good, as Redmonk's James Governor tweeted yesterday "Ian Murdoch (the ian of debian) is doing a phenomenal job of explaining what Linux, and distributions are. A great education for analysts."
Here's a sampling of governance docs from some of Sun's many open source projects. I've listed them in order of what I feel to be, the most progressive (i.e. community governance) to least progressive (i.e. corporate control). I've also listed a key quote from each doc and made a brief comment about each.
Looks to me like the trend is towards community governance and the most important projects are the ones getting the most attention and the most progressive governance. That's good and I sincerely hope the trend continues.
Tri-LUG announcement: Pat Patterson from Sun Microsystems will provide us with a developer perspective on digital identity, starting from the emergence of LDAP in the 90s, through single sign-on, SAML and the Liberty Alliance protocols to recent developments such as OpenID, Cardspace and OAuth. The emphasis will be on understanding the protocols and how they are implemented in the real world, with a particular focus on deciding which (if any!) approach to select for a given project.
Pat Patterson is a federation architect at Sun Microsystems, focusing on federation, identity-enabled Web services and OpenSSO, Sun's open-source implementation of those technologies. Pat's blog centers on identity-related topics.
Looks like a great talk and I've always wanted to meet SuperPat, so I'll be there.
Here are the details:
Speaker: Pat Patterson Title: Digital Identity from LDAP to SAML and beyond Date/time: 7PM Thursday Nov. 8, 2007 Location: Red Hat HQ (map) 1801 Varsity Drive Raleigh, North Carolina 27606 Tel: +1-919-754-3700
Linda Skrocki: I find it interesting that although trust is a two way street, the focus in the blogoshpere is often on companies going out on a limb by trusting employees to blog on a corporate sponsored site, but the fact is, employees also go out on a limb for companies when they contribute content to the company blog site (whether it's personal or not).Some wonderful insights from blogs.sun.com PM Linda Skrocki, read the whole post. She's writing about Sun's 2007 Corporate Responsbility Report.
Todays news that Sun's stock ticker will change from SUNW to JAVA was met with pretty mixed reactions both inside and outside of Sun. On the day of the announcement, the more than 170 comments on Jonathan Schwartz's blog announcement were mostly negative and though there are some positive reactions in the interblogonet, they come mostly from Sun employees.
Below are the posts that I've seen in my feed reader so far.For (or seeing the positive)
What do I think? I'm not sure what I think of the change. The ticker SUNW was out of date because "workstations" are so 80s man, so it's a good thing to update it. And Java ISVs like BlogBridge should like the vote of confidence in Java. On the negative side, it's easy to search for SUNW to get Sun news and that won't work as well with the new ticker. And Java's not all Sun does. One more point. I'm not sure most folks really care what the ticker name is. If they did, don't you think Sun would have changed it years ago?
By the way. I didn't mean the hit the post button on this entry so soon, but it's out there now so I might as well let it stand. I'll update over the next day or two as reactions roll in.
UPDATE: Ed Burnette has a positive, neutral, negative and funny breakdown of his 25 favorite comments from Jonathan's blog post. He says that "Stockholders and employees are among the most vocal critics." of the change.