Monday, March 31, 2008

Podcast with Wayne Beaton

When we were at EclipseCon, I did a podcast with Eclipse's official Evangelist, Wayne Beaton (yes, that's his actual job title - pretty cool job title if you ask me!). The topic was finding and giving help on the Eclipse newsgroups. Wayne just published it here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

EclipseCon 2008

I just returned from EclipseCon and, although I thoroughly enjoyed the conference/vacation, I have to admit that its nice to be home. I guess I should just get it out of the way and point out that I was only able to attend EclipseCon because I was the winner of one of the annual Eclipse Community Awards (specifically, "Most Prolific Newcomer Evangelist") and the foundation was very generous in their help. Specifically, I have to thank Wayne Beaton, Ian Skerrett, and Lynn Gayowski for their encouragement and help - thankyouthankyouthankyou!
As for the award, not only did I get a spiffy personalized acrylic trophy thingy, but a totally tricked out "cell phone," an E90 donated by Nokia - its really more of a mini-computer than a phone, very similar in function to an iPhone. Now I just have to read the 90-page User Guide and figure out what US carrier it works with. In any case, I was totally surprised and blown away by the quality of the prize.

As for the conference itself, I have to say that the highlight was just meeting, face-to-face, so many people with whom I've corresponded, cooperated, and collaborated over the past 5 years. It is great to finally put faces to names like Wayne, Ian, Ed Merks, Tom Schindl, Walter Harely, Denis Roy (thank goodness he introduced himself 'cause I would certainly planted my foot well into my mouth if I had called him "Dennis") and so many more that I can't recall. For me the people aspect was definitely the most interesting part of the whole week.
As for technical content, I was impressed by the long talk on Mylyn, a project that I had been aware of and moderately curious about before; but after seeing it live and presented by its charismatic and passionate creator Mik Kersten, I'm determined to give it some dedicated time and share it with my teammates at Skyway Software.
Speaking of Skyway, I spent considerable time hanging out at the booth and I think our product launch was well-received. Most people seemed impressed with the modeling GUI (I heard words like "slick," "easy-to-use," and "wow") which, admittedly, I am glad to hear because that has been the focus of my work there. But I think we also heard some good feedback about potential directions to take the runtime portion; hopefully the community thing will take off and we'll soon see some contributions in those areas.
The p2 effort is making good progress and looks well on its way to solving the problems with the old Update Manager (and much more).
I was also educated about the profiling tools that are part of the TPTP project. The presenters were clearly not 100% comfortable speaking English in front of a large audience, but the tools look quite robust and complete, certainly capable of competing with their commercial competitors. I will be profiling the Afriterra catalog (and probably Skyway Perspectives, too) in the near future.
Replay Solutions's product also looks very interesting, but as of now it is only for JEE applications so my current (paying) work can't really find much use for it.

I'll close with something that won't surprise those who have spent any amount of time talking to me or reading this blog, a critical statement about the future direction that The Powers That Be apparently have set for one of my chosen technologies. I attended the Eclipse 4 (e4) talk and am confused and somewhat dismayed by the overwhelming focus on bringing the Eclipse platform (specifically, its UI) to the web. Because the details are vague (intentionally, because as with everything else at Eclipse, the real story will be determined by "the community"), I'm having a hard time verbalizing my thoughts; suffice it to say, just in the area of SWT and Platform UI, I'd rather see the growing mound of bugs and feature requests be more addressed instead of spending scarce resources on a completely new "platform." I understand and appreciate the need for architecture cleanup and evolution, but I can't help but wonder how much say "the community" will really have in this, seeing as nearly 100% of the committers are employed by the big member companies. Jesper asks some good questions and raises some good points in this blog post. I'm keeping my mind open, but with a healthy does of skepticism - after all, the last thing that Eclipse needs is a bunch of yes-men all nodding along with the ideas of a very small number of vocal, powerful committers and member companies.

All in all, the week was very enjoyable. Jazmine and Little-j traveled with me and we had some wonderful family tourist days before and after the conference. I'll post photos later this week when my body recovers from the time-zone-difference whiplash...