Dave Johnson on open web technologies, social software and Java
Tim Bray: Whatâs more interesting is that weâre rolling out an OpenID provider at (last time I looked)Now, if only Roller and blogs.sun.com supported OpenID we'd reallly be cookin'
openid.sun.com, but with a twist: You canât get an OpenID there unless youâre a Sun employee, and if someone offers an OpenID whose URI is there, and it authenticates, you can be really sure that theyâre a Sun employee. It doesnât tell you their name or address or anything else; thatâs up to the individual to provide (or not). The authentication relies on our Access Manager product, and itâs pretty strong; employees here have to use those crypto-magic SecureCard token generators for serious authentication, passwords arenât good enough.
As usual ApacheCon was a blast. I showed-up on Tuesday, made myself at home in the hackathon room and started reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. I arrived at the members reception a little late and missed the beer, but was not too late to meet Lars Trieloff of Mindquarry, a startup that's working on an interesting open source product suite that combines content management, task management and wiki functionality. Behind the scenes the product combines Subversion, Apache Jackrabbit and other open source products. Apparently everything is tied together via the Java Content Repository (JCR) API and that's why Lars is interested in the possibility of hooking Roller up with a JCR backend.
Talks began Wednesday and I sat in the business track for most of the day. I particularly enjoyed Rebecca Hansen's talk Better than free: Strategic opportunities in open source and Bill Stoddards talk on Best Practices for Incorporating Open Source Code in Commercial Production. I also enjoyed Alexandru Popescu talk on Up to Speed with Java Content Repository API and Jackrabbit. I attended Stefano Machacci's excellent Community Building Practices talk again -- I think it should be required for all Apache contributors.
Thursday night was the Sun party at Lloyd Hotel, which was was quite successful. I had an interesting Roller-related chat with Paolo Castagna of HP, who is investigating new ways to integrate blogs, planets and wikis -- so we had a lot to talk about. I'm hoping he'll find that Roller is a good foundation for his work and encouraged him to collaborate with us via the Roller mailing lists. By the way, like Lars Trieloff, he is also interested in JCR as a back-end for blog/wiki data.
My talk Roller and blogs as a web development platform was scheduled for 10:30 Friday morning. It didn't go so well. Power went out at around 10AM and didn't come back until about 20 minutes into the talk. That left me a bit frazzled and feeling rushed, so I don't think I gave my best performance. If you'd like more information on the talk, you can find the outline here and the slides here (1.6MB PDF).
It's hard to believe it's been three years since the blogs.sun.com (BSC) launch. Sun bloggers are having a birthday party of sorts around the tag bsc3years, so check out all the posts. My favorite is Linda's, which sums up the successes and reasons for the success of BSC. I think she's right on the money with her comments about employee blogging. Let me add this: you don't need a marketing team or a blog consulting firm to write your company's blogs. Trust your employees. Encourage them to blog and, if you can, provide the enabling infrastructure. I think I may have said that before
I still remember how amazed, surprised and pleased I was to learn that Sun was using Roller. I found out on May 5, 2004 via Roller; I noticed referrers from blogs.sun.com and just couldn't believe my eyes. Shortly after that I wrote to Tim Bray, who introduced me to Will Snow and soon I managed to become part of the BSC phenomenon. I'm proud to have played a part in the BSC success, but the success was certainly not due to the Roller software; it's the bloggers who made BSC. So here's to the BSC bloggers: happy birthday!
Finally! Roller has graduated to become a top-level Apache project and we've shipped the long awaited Apache Roller 3.1 release. You can find the full announcement on the Roller mailing list and on the Roller project blog and our new top-level site at http://roller.apache.org.
We haven't released the standalone Roller-Planet application yet, but the .Sun Engineering team quietly deployed the latest bits at planet.sun.com a couple of weeks ago in response to requests from the Glassfish, SWDP and other teams for planet-style web sites. You can follow the links on the main page to find planets for Glassfish, SWDP, Sun India, Sun Alumni, Sun Java System Web Server, web services and globalization bloggers.
What's Roller-Planet? It's a community aggregation server, similar to Planet-Planet but with some key differences: it's got a web UI that enables groups of users to run their own planet sites, it's based on Java and it uses the ROME feed parser and fetcher. I've written about it before. We don't have a release plan yet for Roller-Planet so if you really want to try it you'll have to fetch and build it from the Apache Roller SVN repo.
I've really been enjoying Geertjan's blog recently. Lots of interesting details, screenshots and his passion for his work really comes through. His posts on the Netbeans Schliemann generic languages framework and today's Capturing Matisse make me want to drop everything and start hacking Netbeans. And I'm especially happy to see that somebody is interesting in Breathing Life Back into a Dead Coyote (part 1 and part 2), which is currently the main vehicle for Groovy language support in Netbeans -- I'd hate to see Groovy dropped in the mad rush to Ruby.
Congrats to Mark Pilgrim on his new job at Google, where he'll be working on the "right" vision for the future of the web. I assume the "wrong" vision, in Mark's mind, comes from the W3C and specifically the W3C's semantic web activities. Mark's comment pointing to his earlier The Overton Window post seems to back that up. I think it's interesting that Mark will be working remotely; that's a rare thing at Google.
And congrats to Debian Linux co-founder Ian Murdock on his new job at Sun, where he'll be working on all things OpenSolaris and, I hope, helping to make it as easy and fun to use as Debian or even Ubuntu.
James Governor: Covalent gets its mojo back and refocuses on its core competence - supporting open source code, and doubles down on Apache projects, going back to its roots. The latest example of Covalent seeing an opportunity and nailing it is the companyâs announcement of support for the Roller blog platform. Thatâs now two companies, IBM and Covalent, making direct revenues from a platform originally built by a Sun employee, but for which Sun has no business model. Here is a hint Sun - perhaps its not software you need to sell but service and support. That is what Covalent is nailing.
I appreciate the support from James and the Redmonk crew. They always seem to be rootin' for Roller.
Of course I'd like to see better support for Roller all around, but at this point I can't say much beyond this: I'm focused on building a great blog platform and support is a very important part of any platform.
A couple of small corrections for James. I was not a Sun employee when I originally developed Roller. Second, IBM hasn't shipped Connections, so they're not any making "direct revenues" yet. Third, I don't know if Covalent has "nailed" anything -- I haven't heard from anybody who has tried the service and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what they offer.
Aaron Cohen is looking for feedback on a simple and clean new Roller theme known as Eco.
Update: Linda says Eco is not really a "Roller theme" as it relies on some .Sun Engineering ad-server components to serve up the rotating eco-fact. She's got some instructions for BSC users interested in the theme on her blog.
Matt Raible has been talking to folks at Sun (including me) about working for Sun. Now he's using his blog as part of the interview process. He asks:
For those folks out there that have worked for Sun - what's it like? Is it a good place to work these days? Would you recommend it for a passionate open source developer like myself that likes to make contractor rates and take lots of vacation?
I've already talked to him and told him what I think. We didn't talk about vacation, which is a disappointing two weeks for a new employee, but other than that I think Sun is a great place to work for a passionate open source developer. If you work at Sun or worked at Sun, leave a comment on Matt's blog or send him an email and tell him about your Sun experience.
Note that we now have two possible replacements for our old Hibernate back-end. We've got a Java Persistence Architecture (JPA) based back-end developed by Sun's Craig Russell and Mitesh Meswani and IBM is getting ready to contribute an iBatis based back-end. How do we choose which one to use in Roller? Consensus seems to be that we'll have a bake-off. We'll compare the programming models, test performance and discuss the pros and cons -- and let the best framework win.
Lots of good news and stuff to blog this past week including the Sun makes a profit story, the Sun-Intel deal and more. I really like reading news like this Amid Profit, Brighter Days for Sun and this Sun turns profit after five quarters in red.
And how could I fail to mention the announcement of Lotus Connections, the product formerly known as Ventura. Connections is IBM's new Web 2.0 social networking suite and it includes Roller. IBM's James Snell posted some background info about IBM's internal use of social networking tools and how that led to Lotus Connections. Elias Torres blogged about it too and included a screen-shot of the new Connections based BlogCentral (IBM's internal blogging site).
And in other news...
My ApacheCon EU talk on 'Roller and Blogs as a Web Development Platform' was accepted. Looks like I'll have a busy May, Amsterdam for ApacheCon and (hopefully) San Francisco for JavaOne all in the space of two weeks.
The ROME project is just about ready for ROME 1.0 and there's a new subproject in the works: ROME Propono. co-worker Ramesh Mandava and I are putting together a Blog Client library (based on code from Blogapps) and an Atom client/server library (based on code from Roller). Hopefully, we'll have it ready by the time that ROME 1.0 comes out.
I mentioned that I've got a new job at Sun and it begins Monday, so I guess it's time to explain.
Since I joined Sun two years ago I've been working in the .Sun Engineering organization, the team that runs sun.com and blogs.sun.com. In that time we've taken Roller through three major releases, made massive improvements to the Roller code-base, helped grow the Roller community at Apache and delivered new features and improvements on a monthly basis. It's been a truly wonderful experience and I've learned a lot from Will Snow's amazing team, but now that Roller has matured and stabilized I'm ready to start working in some new directions.
On Monday I'll move to the Java EE organization (under Tony Ng) where Sun's working on some very interesting and very cool technologies from server-side scripting with Phobos and JRuby on Rails, RESTful approaches to web services and client-side UI goodness with JMaki. I'm very excited about the move and getting a chance to get involved with those technologies, but I can't talk yet about the specific product(s) I'll be working on. I can say this: I'll continue to be very closely involved with Roller development and I'll continue my work with RSS/Atom, ROME and the Blogapps project. And, of course, I'll continue blogging Roller so stay tuned.
Rich has put together a interesting blogapp that pulls all entries from a blog and turns them into a book, using either cups2pdf or OpenOffice.org Writer. I had the same idea when I was writing RSS and Atom in Action, but I was going to go the DocBook route and eventually dropped the idea because DocBook seemed a bit too complex.
I don't think Rich's work is Roller-specific. Rich used Grabber to get the entries out of Roller and into simple HTML files, so the approach should work with other blog servers that support the MetaWeblog API.
Paul Murphy: By the end of the year the OpenSolaris community will be widely recognised as larger and more active than the Linux community - and every competing OS developer community except Microsoft's will have copied the key ideas including its organisational structure, the core provisions in the community development license, and Solaris specific technologies including ZFS and Dtrace.
That's a nice way to start the new year. No doubt plenty of Sun bloggers will be linking to Paul's predictions.
I've been too busy with year-end projects to blog over the past couple of days and now suddenly, it's time to say farewell to 2006. So I'll do that with a quick summary of the year.
2006 was a pretty good year for me. I published my first book: RSS and Atom in Action. Roller is still growing, reached 3.0 status and is now very close to becoming a top level Apache project. IBM started contributing to and announced a Web 2.0 product suite that will include Roller. I did my first solo JavaOne presentation and spoke at both ApacheCon EU and ApacheCon US. And, I haven't mentioned it yet, but I also landed a new job inside Sun, which starts on January 8th (more about that later).
On the home-front: the boys (now 4, 8 and 10) are all healthy, happy and doing well in school. We celebrated my dad's 70th birthday and Alex's 10th birthday. We took family trips to Ocracoke, Atlanta, Austin, Northern Virginia and made numerous visits to the in-laws beach house near Topsail Island. Plus, Andi and I escaped from the kids for a week in Ireland to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary -- our first kidless vacation in about ten years.
I hope you had a good year too and will have an even better 2007. Happy new years!
I'm glad I was able to help Simon get his personal planet back online yesterday. And I'm glad the task was fairly easy. All Simon needed as a new version of Blogapps PlanetTool updated to use ROME 0.9 and I was planning on doing that anyway.
What's PlanetTool you wonder? PlanetTool is a command-line program which reads a set of RSS/Atom newsfeeds and then uses a set of templates to generate a planet site with HTML, RSS, Atom, OPML and other representations. Simon uses it to bring together his personal blog, Sun blog, del.icio.us links and Flickr.com photos into a single webpage and a single feed. If you subscribe to that feed, you'll get just about everything that Simon publishes to the web.
If you're interested in learning more about PlanetTool, here are some of my previous posts on the topic:
The above title Try PlanetTool, it's easy! is a little misleading, but it brings me to my point. PlanetTool is only easy if you're a developer or a power-user; somebody who can handle running Java on a server, editing an XML config file and setting up a cron job. Simon could handle it, but I'd like to make planets easier.
In fact, I'd like to make it as easy to create a planet as it is to create a blog. This past week, I've been thinking about how to do that by taking the simple ROME powered Roller-Planet code, which is found in both Roller and PlanetTool, and build it into a multi-user planet server -- kinda like Roller, but for planets instead of blogs. To get my thoughts into digital form I worked up a little FreeMind mind-map on the topic, dumped it to text, added some wiki syntax and some screen-shots. The result is this: a RollerPlanetMindMap that outlines ideas for the future development of Roller-Planet.
If you dig blogs, wikis, feeds, Java and Solaris then you might be interested in the fact that we're hiring. Linda Skrocki's got the scoop on the job opening in Sun's Community Software Engineering team.