Back in NC

I returned Saturday morning after a very productive trip to CA. The week was jam-packed full of meetings, meet-ups, dinners and other get-togethers with my co-workers and California friends.

View from SCA 12 SCA 12

Above are a couple of photos from/of the building where I work when I visit Sun's Santa Clara HQ. The campus is a beautiful place as far as corporate campuses go, and a former insane asylum with "historic and architectural significance" according to the National Park Service. I think it's slightly of odd that so far in my career I have worked at two software companies head-quartered in former mental health facilities.

Santa Clara through Friday

It took me about 24 hours and an unexpected stay in Houston, TX but I finally made it to California yesterday. Then, when I arrived I found that my hotel reservations were made for the wrong dates and MacWorld is in town eating up all hotel rooms. Not fun, but it's all behind me now. I'm settled in here at Sun's Santa Clara campus and looking forward to a productive week with the Social Software team -- lots of meetings, white-boarding ideas and getting moving with the next phase of our plans.

Looks like Matt Raible, Matthias Wessendorf, myself and probably others will be having a "tech meetup" at the Old Pro in Palo Alto at 6:30PM Wednesday evening. So, blog readers, Roller fans and other friends in the area, stop on by.

Abdera rocks on

There have been some interetsing Atom items recently on James Snell's blog. There was a link to a nice IBM DeveloperWorks article on using Abdera to write Atom feeds to JSON. (I was kinda hoping for an XSL/T, but not matter how you do it, it's a definitely feature that belongs in Abdera.) And there's a good quote from Adrian Sutton's blog post about the Atom features in IBM's Roller and Abdera based Lotus Connections product. And most recently, James linked to the new Google Feed Server project: an Abdera based AtomPub server from Google. All good stuff.

Gotta say, Abdera's looking better and better. It's got the features (IRI support, encrytion, pluggable auth, STAX parsing, etc.) and it's got Dan and appears to have some good momentum going. At this rate, I'm not sure how much more work I'll be putting into ROME Propono. If somebody were to, just for example, contribute an Abdera based AtomPub implementation to Roller, I might have to stop entirely.

The "all Dave" feed

Another thing I worked on over the winter break was an all-Dave feed, a single page and feed that combines all of the various things that I post to the web: blog entries, Flickr photos, links and Twitter activity. So far, this is what I've got:

Who's gonna buy a $400 Linux laptop?

Everex debuts $399 ultramobile PC: The Cloudbook is designed for Internet usage, not for heavy duty graphics applications. Like the gPC, it will come with software or links to FireFox, gMail, Meebo, Skype, Google Documents & Spreadsheets, Google Calendar, Google News, Google Maps, Wikipedia, Google Product Search, GIMP, Blogger, YouTube, Xine Movie Player, RhythmBox, Faqly, Facebook and 2.3.

The gOS operating system looks pretty cool. It's based on Ubuntu Linux plus the slick Enlightenment Window manager and the desktop and menus make Google "your entire computing experience. I can see how geeks like me and the kids we've brainwashed into digging the GIMP might like it, but aren't most folks going to be scratching their heads and asking how well it runs MS Word? I'd love to know how Everex's existing $200 gOS powered desktop is selling.

California next week

I'm going to be traveling to California next week (Jan 13-18) to sync up with my co-workers at Sun HQ in Santa Clara. I'll be in town Sunday through Friday and though my days will be pretty busy, I'll probably have some free time in the evenings for a meet-up or two. Let me via email know if there are some good ones going on next week or if you like to meet-up and talk Roller/blog tech one night (dave.johnson at

Roller Strong #12

I have just one item for Roller Strong today: the post below from James Snell of IBM, which lists some pretty impressive stats for IBM's internal blogging system. James doesn't mention it in the post, but I've been told that the site is powered by Apache Roller v3.1.

Growth: Quick note: IBM's internal blogging environment currently has 95k+ entries, 94k+ comments, 41k+ registered users, 11k+ Blogs (about 13% of which are considered active), 20k+ distinct tags, and 6k+ ratings on entries (entry rating has only been around since June of 2007). On average, there are just under 150 new entries posted to about 115 blogs per day. The number of comments per day fluctuate between 80-230 per day. A range of between 200-400 tags are used each day. Update: in the first three days of January, the server access logs show 109,439 unique visitors, 3,265,739 hits, and 61.37 GB of data transferred.

And that's internal boggers only. Just think what they could do with an external blog site. Roller works well outside the firewall too.


Latest Links: social networking platforms and more...

First, some social software links.

And second, some feel-good PHP, Rails and Linux links.

Holiday project: JMaki for Roller

JMaki seal Over the holidays I avoided doing anything directly related to my current set of work tasks. Sun went quiet, which helped, and I ignored the messages that piled-up in the Roller user and dev lists. It was so quiet that I had time for a fun little project: a JMaki plugin for Roller.

JMaki makes it easy to use JavaScript widgets (Dojo, Google, YUI, etc.) from PHP, JSP, JSF and now Roller. To use a widget, all you have to do is call a method or include a tag and JMaki takes care of including the right JavaScript files and generating the right HTML for you. That's not all JMaki does, there's also a pub/sub facility to make it easy to wire widgets together via events, there's a proxy for fetching remote resources common table and tree data models. The theme is cool widgets with ease-of-development and that's what I'd like to see in Roller. You can read more about the JMaki value proposition on the Why Use JMaki page.

Here's an example. Below is a Roller page template that uses two JavaScript widgest, the Dojo Clock and the YUI Data Table. All it takes is a single line of template code to include each widget, and one widget is dynamic i.e. the table is populated via an RSS feed.

    <head><title>JMaki test page</title></head>

        <h1>JMaki test: dojo.clock</h1>

        <h1>JMaki test: yahoo.dataTable</h1>
        $jmaki.addWidget("yahoo.dataTable", "/roller/xhp?id=rss","","")


And here's what that page looks like when displayed by Roller:

JMaki Plugin for Roller w/Dojo and YUI

I'll write more about the plugin once I install it on this site. If you want some details about how the plugin was developed, you can read the email that I sent to the JMaki dev list: JMaki for Roller issues and suggestions. It links to the Java source code for the plugin.

Happy New Year 2008

Happy New Year to all the readers of this blog and all the folks who happen to have arrived here via one of the various planets, spam blogs and Google search result pages that include it. I hope you all have a prosperous and pleasant year ahead. I'm hoping for the same. It's nice to start the new year with some good news and I've got some; check this out:

RSS and Atom in Action book

RSS and Atom in Action has been out for over a year now and just as the phenomenal sales are starting to drop off, something wonderful has happened. The book has been nominated for the prestigious Stephen T. Colbert Award for Literary Excellence. As you can see in the photo above, at least one copy of the book is already carrying the Colbert nominee seal. Avoid the rush and buy your copy of RSS and Atom in Action now.

Those who have read Colbert's I Am America (And So Can You!) will understand the significance of this important award and understand the impact on future sales of the book. To learn more about the nomination process and criteria, buy yourself a copy of Colbert's book and then flip to page 214½. Cheers!


I'm supposed to be on vacation today and I'm doing my best, but I just wanted to point out that something interesting has quietly appeared in the Glassfish Update Center. Why so quiet? Well, it's an EA2 release and the emphasis is definitely on the E. I'll post some more details later, perhaps after winter break. I've still got shopping to do now and I'm supposed to be on vacation.

Social Software for Glassfish

Interested? If you haven't done so already grab yourself a copy of the new Glassfish V2 UR1 release. Run the updatetool and install the latest EA2 release of Social Software for GlassFish.

See also: Something fishy.

Latest Links

Today, I've got a couple of additions to my powered-by-Roller list: More about the opening of the Social Networking platforms of the world: And some more about the intersection of corporate interests and community open source:
  • InfoWorld: Open source and the corporate elephant (FOSS.IN coverage)
    Danese Cooper: "Having a well-read blog is the best defense you can have against any problems you may encounter"
  • eWeek: Sun Open-Source Support Questioned
    "The only reason anyone should be surprised by anything Sun does with [the open-source projects] it controls is because that person has fundamentally created an expectation that access to source code meant more than just that—and that is a flawed assumption."
  • Reg Developer: Bruce Perens on the OpenDS spat
    "In general open source is only going to work if you let it be a community led project. Sun has had a hard time learning this, and some of their open source projects have had a hard time getting outside contributors, because Sun has insisted on owning the [project]"

Off to the mountains

I'm off to the NC mountains and away from internet access so you won't see a blog, link, photo or tweet from me for a couple of days. Have a nice weekend. Over and out.

NC mountain house

How to create a Roller 4.0 theme, part 2

In part one I explained how to create a theme directory and add the required template and resource files. Now I'll wrap things up by explaining what goes into a theme.xml theme definition file and how to deploy your new theme. [Read More]

Blog server as social networking platform?

Anne Zelenka, Gigaom: Could open-source blogging platform WordPress serve as your next social networking profile? Chris Messina, co-founder of Citizen Agency, thinks so. He’s started a project called DiSo, for distributed social networking, that aims to “build a social network with its skin inside out.” DiSo will first look to WordPress as its foundation.

This could be the next step towards the unified social graph that some technologists wish for. WordPress suits the purpose because it provides a person-centric way of coming online, offers an extensible architecture, and already has some features — such as an OpenID and a blogroll plugin — that can be pressed into social networking service. And its users represent exactly the sort of audience that might appreciate the permanent, relatively public identity that DiSo aims to offer.

Interesting. I think that blogs should be the corner-stone of social networking and I'd much rather have my blog be my social network profile rather than some page inside somebody else's container. Then again, as a blog server developer I'm pretty biased.

How to create a Roller 4.0 theme, part 1

The Roller 4.0 Template Author Guide explains how to customize your Roller theme by editing the page templates that define, but it doesn't explain how to create an all-new Roller theme. This is the first of two posts that explain how to create theme for use with Roller 4.0. [Read More]

Latest Links: Feedsync, AtomPub for SOA, OpenSocial and more

Roller 4.0 released


Apache Roller 4.0 has been released and is now available for download.

This is a major new Roller release which includes easier blog theme customization, a much more simple installation/upgrade process, infrastructure improvements and numerous other small fixes. You can get the release files and the official documentation via the Apache mirrors at this page:

And you can read about the new features on the What's New in Roller 4.0 page of the Roller wiki.

Project releases are approved by vote of the Apache Roller Project Management Committee (PMC). Support for a release is provided by project volunteers on the project mailing lists. Additional free support is provided by many other volunteer subscribers to the list. Bugs found in a release may be discussed on the list and reported through the issue tracker.

Roller is a Project of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), formed by a resolution of the ASF Board of Directors. As an ASF Project, Roller is subject to the ASF Bylaws and the direction of the ASF Board. The user mailing list and issue tracker are the only support options hosted by the Apache Roller project.

Cross posted from the Roller project blog.

OpenQabal: a social software platform w/Roller

I'm always happy to see Roller used in new sites, projects and products. Here's an interesting new example that I've been meaning to blog for a while now. Phillip Rhodes is working on building what he calls OpenQabal a "social software operating system." The project integrates a set of social software applications, including Roller and JavaBB, via Single Sign-On (SSO), a common look-and-feel and Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities (SIOC). He explains it all in an lengthy and informative blog post on the project's blog.

I'd never heard of SIOC before. Here's the executive summary:

Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities SIOC or is a framework aimed at connecting online community sites and internet-based discussions. Currently, online communities (boards, blogs, etc.) are like islands - they contain valuable information but are not well connected. SIOC allows us to interlink these sites, and enables the extraction of richer information from various discussion services.

Sounds like it could be pretty darn useful. But then again, I spent a little time exploring the list of SIOC enabled sites with the SIOC Firefox plugin and didn't really find any examples of interlinked communities or conversations. Am I missing something?

RC10 is 4.0

We've got the votes to release our tenth release candidate as Apache Roller 4.0. I'll make formal announcements after I've put files in place and updated the various release and docs pages.

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