Thursday, October 28, 2010

Developers discuss Apachecon 2010

I'm getting to know many of the Apache project contributors that work for IBM. Next week is the 11th annual Apachecon open source developer conference in Atlanta Georgia. There are several IBM developers speaking about their work on open source projects at the week long conference. The theme of this year's conference hosted by the Apache Software Foundation is "Servers, Cloud and Innovation." so it's exciting to see all of spots where IBM is contributing to interesting development work around JEE6 web servers and OSGi.

I had the opportunity to ask three questions of three of the speakers. I wanted to learn what they were speaking about and why, what topics they most want to learn more about, who they are anxious to meet, and finally, what new technology in upcoming releases of Apache projects they are most excited about.

The speakers are Zoe Slattery, Jarek Gawor and Lin Sun. Those links will take you directly over to their speaker pages on the Apachecon conference website. Here are the answers from Lin Sun. You may read Zoe and Jarek's replies in follow-on posts.

What topic are you speaking about at Apachecon this year? What will developers learn from your session?

I will speak about the blueprint enhancement we did in Apache Aries this year, after blueprint container implementation was donated from Apache Geronimo to Apache Aries since the start of the Apache Aries incubation project in 3Q 2009. I expect developers will gain some basic understanding of blueprint specification (also known as standardized Spring dependency injection framework) and learn how to use the standardized blueprint container, bean interceptor, declarative transaction, JPA blueprint integration, message-driven service and blueprint annotation to build their enterprise applications.

What topic are you most looking forward to learning more about or which speaker are you looking forward to hearing or meeting?

This is my first time attending Apache Con so I look forward to meeting people there, including people on my team which I never met before (Zoe Slattery and David Blevins). I look forward to learning more about Tuscany and SOA, Geronimo, OSGi and JCDI, and other cool technologies which I'm involved with.

What new feature of Geronimo v3.0 are you most excited about and why?

Java EE 6 web profile assembly to promote a light weight server for our user is definitely the most important theme of Geronimo v3.0. Besides that, the ability to provide a runtime platform for Apache Aries is very exciting where people can use functions in Enterprise OSGi like blueprint, blueprint enhancements( bean interceptor, declarative transaction, JPA blueprint integration, etc.), web container in OSGi, transaction in OSGi, JPA integration in OSGi, JNDI in OSGi, JMX in OSGi in a light weight Java EE server. Not only Geronimo provides implementation for Java EE 6 web profile required specifications, it also provide implementation for many of the Enterprise OSGi specifications.

To top this off, here are some other IBM speakers at Apachecon. Right between Zoe's talks on Friday, Dr. Bob Sutor is presenting a keynote on Friday exploring Data, Languages and Problems. He will review historical challenges and provide forward looking insights about innovations for dealing with unstructured and structured data. Update: Bob posted a keynote preview today on his blog. Jean-Sebastien Delfino is speaking about Apache Tuscany, SCA in the Cloud and High performance cloud-enabled SCA runtimes. Kevan Miller is presenting an introduction to Apache Geronimo 3.0 to highlight Profiles and other features of a lightweight, modular JEE 6 server. David Blevins, co-founder of the OpenEJB, will go in-depth on this project.

If you are attending Apachecon next week in Atlanta, do reach out to our team. I wish I could be there with everyone for the big week. Have a good conference all.

See you next time,
Ryan Boyles

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Barcamp RDU experience

Lin Sun, Ted Kirby, Joe Bohn at Barcamp RDU 2010. This photo is licensed under CC by Ryan Boyles.

I and a handful of colleagues participated in Barcamp RDU in Raleigh last weekend. The developer unconference was held at the RedHat HQ on North Carolina State University's centennial campus. Barcamp RDU is in it's fifth year at RedHat and it is always a packed day with a capacity crowd of hundreds of passionate developers and techies. I thought it would be a great opportunity for some of our local IBM developers who work on open source to speak about their work. The other tangible benefit is connecting with other developers and discussing their work and perspectives on new technology and software trends.

The afternoon schedule grid at Barcamp RDU 2010. This photo is licensed under CC by Ryan Boyles.

Lin Sun and Joe Bohn pitched topics on OSGi and Apache Aries to discuss the Blueprint container and dependency injection in Java EE development. Their two talks got combined into one during voting and scheduling process. This is how Barcamps work, the audience is the organizer. The talks also shift around the time slots and can end up positioned against other interesting topics. The crowd then gets to decide which sessions to attend. Most sessions end up with the most ardent supporters or curious developers and great discussions are the result. Lin and Joe ended up in the afternoon schedule at 2:30. Lin gave a intro to OSGi and Joe gave a brief intro to Apache Aries. Joe showed some overview slides from IBM architect Ian Robinson presented at OSCON and OSGi DevCon this year, but canned presentations are not the sole focus of Barcamps. In the unconference style, there should be no observers, the audience is a participant, so the focus shifts from the project bits to real problems and solutions. They dubbed it "Standardized Spring" for a solid discussion with a handful of people, including a techie from the Global Technology group of Deutsche Bank, who was another sponsor of the event. There were questions, like "how do you expose a service? how do you inject dependencies?" aimed at gaining insight into benefits of the dynamic capabilities of OSGi. One developer was using Spring; DM 2.0 is the reference implementation for the Blueprint specification, but he was not familiar with that spec. Many people are not familiar with just how involved IBMers are involved with Apache open source projects and we aim to change that. The buzz is found in discovering common ground and new ways of approaching different projects.

Ted, Joe and Lin then attended the Web Frameworks feedback session led by Lincoln Baxter from JBoss. He asked the dozen participants to weigh in on "What are people using to build web applications? What is important to you, and how do you do testing?" These sort of basic discussions help developers connect to learn from current development practices. The answers vary a great deal! Lincoln then showed a demo of the Seam framework for 10-15 minutes.

I attended a talk on developing RESTful web services led by a developer from local firm rPath. This session ended up being a very lively talk about how to build services with REST in your existing application infrastructure, a look at different libraries for handling unstructured data with JSON, XML or Atom, and the pros and cons of developing for and handling service changes for AJAXy or Flex clients. The speaker had a strong preference to use just XML as opposed to Atom. This talk was well attended with about 35 developers. In IBM, we have been active with implementing with REST, and within application infrastructure with WebSphere sMash. The main take away is there is a lack of standards used today in REST dev and there is not strong uptake for JAX-RS as yet.

I pitched a session on mobile technology use of 2D square barcodes called QR Codes. This was geeky talk about barcode usage with smart phones I've been exploring in several projects recently, like this one for IBM at the JAX London conference. I combined my talk with another developer experimenting with QR codes and we had a fantastic session driven almost completely by an audience of 40 curious geeks. I documented the whole set of topics and examples on my personal blog. It's interesting to see how technology like this is popping up and now surging in use within the U.S. - a study suggests there is a 700% increase in barcode scanning with smart phones since 2009. I've seen these square barcodes at events, in magazine ads, on store shelves, on business cards and badges, and scanner tech integrated into numerous iPhone and Android applications.

Other cool talks included things like Using Dropbox for source code control, Linked Data and RDF (Semantic Web is the future!), No SQL, How to rock your User Group (like TriPUG), and addressing usability, accessibility and SEO at the same time. IBM DeveloperWorks was a gold sponsor and provided breakfast bagels and coffee for the whole day. Ian Shields and Bran Ganesan held a session to explain how to get paid for unleashing your brilliance by authoring technical articles for DeveloperWorks. I'd suggest you follow @developerWorks on twitter to see examples of articles as they are published or explore the social network for geeks in the community groups. You're bound to find topics of interest and people to connect with on Cloud, web development, open source, you name it.

The sponsors poster of Barcamp RDU 2010. This photo is licensed under CC by Ryan Boyles.

All in all, the Barcamp was a great success. Joe made the observation that iPhone app dev is still hot in general, and Git is pervasive. Ted said the most fun he had was learning about QR Codes and Location based applications. The funny thing is, he learned all of this from just socializing between sessions, he didn't attend my talk on QR Codes or the other on Location. He was able to attend other talks that overlapped. As I've said before, the problem with Barcamps isn't lack of interesting developer topics, it is the challenge of deciding which talks you have to attend and which you will miss. Regardless the open environment offers a great way to connect to local people behind some really cool projects and technology. The main aim of the intro level discussions are to spark thoughts about innovation in the participants. I explored this more by posting several videos from Barcamp RDU on youtube and documenting the day with photos on Flickr. There was a lively back channel on Twitter with the hashtag #barcamprdu (see the archive).

See you next time,
Ryan Boyles

Monday, October 18, 2010

Open Lunch

It's nice to meet the faces behind the avatars. A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to meet up with a couple of visiting IBMers. Two IBM software group colleagues were visiting the Research Triangle Park lab in September from overseas and we all love a reason to go out a try something new for lunch. Lin Sun suggested a good place in Morrisville for Thai food. Valentin Mahrwald, visiting from IBM Hursley Lab in UK, and Daniel Haischt from IBM Böblingen Lab in Germany, have been working with North Carolina colleagues on a RedBook for OSGi and JPA. Valentin is a UK colleague of my teammate Zoë and Daniel worked with some of my old teammates on the WebSphere sMash book. It is interesting to play "seven degrees of separation" in IBM. Valentin is a committer on Apache Aries and Daniel is a committer on Apache OpenEJB. The rest of the RTP group were IBM members of the Apache Geronimo team and our test lead for the OSGi / JPA feature pack. Our lunch conversation was centered mostly around good dining suggestions around the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) as it seems we have foodies of various sorts in the group!

Pictured here are Joe Bohn, Jarek Gawor, Valentin Mahrwald, Daniel Haischt, Lin Sun, Bill Stoddard. Also at lunch but not pictured are Nichole Stewart, Ted Kirby, and myself, the photographer Ryan Boyles.

Update: Here is the draft RedBook of Getting Started with the Feature Pack for OSGi and JPA that is co-authored by Carla Satler, Daniel Haischt, Philipp Huber and Valentin Mahrwald.

Friday, October 15, 2010

eXtreme Jam

IBM WebSphere developers, SWAT team members, technical sales specialists and technical evangelists met at the IBM RTP Lab for a jam. The task at hand: author a new best practices guide for WebSphere eXtreme Scale. There were bagels and caching. Seated from left to right: Jian Tang, Bob Ringo, Larry Clark, John Pape, Jr., Chunmo Son, Nitin Gaur, Lan Vuong. We'll post the new guide as soon as the document is finalized.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Perspectives and Observations from the New JavaOne

I have not been to the JavaOne conference since it's heyday back in 2001. Java had it's time in the, ahem, Sun, and now we are all wondering what it will now be like to experience this annual gathering co-located as an Oracle developer confab. My California based manager Sunil Murthy had the great opportunity to participate at JavaOne 2010 / Oracle OpenWorld, experience the new Java conference and meet developers and thought leaders in our industry. I posed the following questions about the conference in September.

Hey Sunil, I trust you are rested up from the grueling conference schedule. I wonder what was the atmosphere like this year with the Oracle led event?

With all the walking between hotel locations of keynotes and Javaone camp, yes absolutely Ryan! I believe folks appreciated the technical content that is signature Javaone and also the surprising level of technical details that Larry and Thomas provided in their respective keynotes. I'll point to a couple of key take-aways that stood out. First and foremost is Oracle's entry into cloud computing aligned with Amazon EC2. Second, the Java roadmap, highlighted by Thomas Kurian's keynote, seeks to reinvigorate Java innovation with an Oracle "stamp." I did, however, gather from my own impression as well as in talking to folks, that the Java development community is "thirsty" for a vendor neutral forum, as was widely discussed in various forums.

What bits would you share from the cloud computing announcements?

After dismissing cloud computing last year, Oracle was all over cloud computing during the conference. The keynotes touched on "what is cloud computing" based on Amazon's EC2 definition, and made it abundantly clear on not aligning with the view.

Which technical talks were most interesting for Java developers about future directions?

In my view, there were seemed to be a big focus on modularity, new programming models, new languages and of course mobile frontiers - isn't there always? ;) There was good talks about a modular java platform Jigsaw. There is ever increasing interest in the language Scala on the VM, but I can't tell if Scala is the new Ruby or not, if you know what I mean? There was also a talk about hybrid OSGi and JEE programming model of note to our team.

Surely there was talk about the front end?

Oh yes, how could I forget. There was a lot to do about ease of use with JavaFx and the demo was fantastic! Check it out on YouTube. There is Java, JavaScript and HTML5 support, with the claim that HTML5 is strategic. Native client runs on HotSpot and JavaFx is common across browser and native client. Very cool stuff.

What did you learn from discussions with developers in the Java community?

Really there is a lot of concern about the direction of the community but there is also a lot of optimism. Java is a growing developer community that is only becoming more specializing with the platform growing into areas like mobile with Android and gaming. There is concern over the JCP, but the Java developer community is 9 million strong and the marketplace is vibrant with healthy competition. Enterprise Java is a mature platform but it is evolving and changing.

Thanks for sharing your JavaOne 2010 observations with us Sunil.

Until next time,
Ryan Boyles