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Trip report: ApacheCon US 2009

(Last week, I returned after a week of 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.)

Here's my report from ApacheCon US, focusing on the projects I'm involved with: Roller, Shindig and SocialSite.

Roller session#

In my session, I covered the new features in 5.0, Roller history and sort of a Roller state of the union. I explained that nobody is working full-time on Roller these days, it's an all volunteer effort with about three people active and if folks want us to keep on making official Apache releases then those very same folks had better step-up and get involved so we can knight some new PMC members. I also did a demo of the new features in Roller 5.0 including OpenID and the file upload and management improvements.

Shindig session#

After my Roller talk and in the same room, I attended Paul Lindner's talk on Apache Shindig. Paul has worked on OpenSocial implementations at Hi5 and LinkedIn and he's also a committer on the Apache Shindig project.

I'm familiar with Shindig so this was mostly review for me. I liked Paul's assessment of Shindig quality, saying that they have good processes in place, use code reviews and have good test coverage. Paul acknowledged problems with Shindig's developer friendly-ness and said that the community is working to fix them. I've heard similar complaints from multiple source and seen myself that it's not as easy as it should be to understand the codebase, figure out how to plug-into it and understand which parts are really required for OpenSocial and which are just sample code.

Paul also talked about the Open Stack concept, a set of open standards that enable social networking interoperation including OpenSocial, ~OAuth, OpenID and portable contacts. He said that Shindig is the best way to implement the stack and keep up with the evolving standards. He had a nice quote about "Shindig is to OpenSocial as Apache HTTPD is to HTTP"

Social Widgets / Gadgets meetup#

On Thursday night, I attended Social Widgets / Gadgets meetup which brought together members of the Apache Shindig, Apache SocialSite and Apache Wookie Communities.

There were about 25 people there including folks from Google, Atlassian, Yahoo, Ning, LinkedIn, Hippo (CMS/portals ISV) and, I'm guessing, a bunch of SF bay area startups. The meetup started around 8PM and lasted over two hours.

I presented a lightning talk on Apache SocialSite using a couple of slides from the JavaOne talk and including a quick status report. Status is this: still waiting on Sun to come through on code grant, Globant is having some success with SocialSite in production and work is almost complete in converting the build over to Maven. I also did a quick talk about the Enterprise 2.0 OpenSocial panel, which occurred the day before.

Next, Jas Nagra did a very entertaining and informative mini-presentation on Caja, complete with XMen 2 references. Caja is a way to run Javascript code (e.g. gadgets) loaded from different locations, each in its own secure sandbox where it can't interfere with others and can't do evil -- but without relying on iframes. Shindig uses Caja, but it's optional and off by default.

After that Paul Linder did a quick talk on the Open Stack idea and revised his Shindig quote to "Shindig is to the Open Stack as Apache HTTPD is to HTTP." Then we broke up and folks stuck around to talk about APIs, projects, possibilities and everything else for quite some time.

That's all I've got for now. I hope to document some of my experiences on the "Enterprise OpenSocial" panel at Enterprise 2.0 later, possibly in a blog post on the OpenSocial blog.


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