Dave Johnson on open web technologies, social software and software development
Ten years ago on this day, O'Reilly published an article that I wrote called Building an Open Source J2EE Weblogger, the article that introduced the Roller weblogger (now known as Apache Roller) to the world. It changed my career and my life in a bunch of nice ways and 10 years later I'm still benefiting from my choice to create Roller and write that article. So you can get a taste of the times, here's the intro:
Building an Open Source J2EE Weblogger: As a Java developer, you should be aware of the tremendous wealth of open source development software that is available for your use -- even if you have no desire to release any of your own software as open source. In this article, I will introduce you to some of the most useful open source Java development tools by showing you how I used these tools to develop a complete database-driven Web application called Roller.
Roller fits into the relatively new category of software called webloggers: applications that make it easy for you to maintain a weblog, also known as a blog -- a public diary where you link to recent reading on the Web and comment on items of interest to you.
The Roller Web application allows you to maintain a Web site that consists of a weblog, an organized collection of favorite Web bookmarks, and a collection of favorite news feeds. You can define Web pages to display your weblog, bookmarks, and news feeds. By editing the HTML templates that define these pages, you have almost total control over the layout and appearance of these pages. Most importantly, you can do all of this without leaving the Roller Web application -- no programming is required.
I've written and talked about Roller and the history of Roller numerous times. If you're interested in learning more about it here's my most recent Roller presentation, which covers Roller history in some detail:
These days, Roller isn't really thriving as an open source project. Wordpress became the de facto standard blogging package and then micro-blogging took over the world. There are only a couple of active committers and most recent contributions have come via student contributions. Though IBM, Oracle and other companies still use it heavily, they do not contribute back to the project. If you're interested in contributing to Roller or becoming part of the Apache Software Foundation, then Roller needs YOU!.
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.