Eclipse Ecosystem

A blog devoted to promoting the Eclipse ecosystem

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Member perspective on Google'ing for Eclipse Stuff

It's times like this I realize how confusing the English language is. I'm glad it's my mother tounge, but even then I confused get easily it with. I've had some pings recently asking for help finding the process for proposing new projects to Eclipse. In the same vein, how to become a new committer to Eclipse projects. If you do some rampant google'ing with the obvious keywords, you're more likely to find technical information given the overloaded meaning of words like "project" and "process" in software. All this information is within a couple clicks from the main website, but again, English is somewhat of an art...

So here are some key links to know about if you want to propose a new project to eclipse. This link describes the Eclipse development processes. Look in the middle at the "Project Lifecycle" section for the step-by-step instructions on how to propose an Eclipse Project. This link describes the process for becoming a new committer to an Eclipse Project.

- Don

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Be careful with the "Long Tail" buzzword

In the October 2004 issue of Wired, Chris Anderson nailed the term "Long Tail" from a business model sense. Basically, the "long tail" thesis is that technology enables organizations to be profitable serving extremely niche markets. For example, Amazon can profitably distribute a book that might only ever sell 400 copies whereas a bricks-and-mortar book store would likely lose money on such a short seller.

I know someone who reviews business cases for various Venture Cap groups and he's noticed an alarming misuse of the "long tail" phrase. I've also noticed it creeping into more and more general conversation. His advice was to be careful with the phrase "long tail" so that it's not used synonymously with "small market" (or the business case will surely be rejected). Instead, talk about how your business case ENABLES someone to be successful reaching the "long tail". In other words, writing a book that only appeals to 400 people might be a bad business model, but providing a framework that enables that 400-book author IS a great business model.

At EclipseCon 2006 this March, Carl Zetie will be talking about Eclipse and the Long Tail. It's a great point - in addition to the more obvious benefits of the Eclipse platform and some of the more popular projects, Eclipse is also a great vehicle for developing and distributing projects that might be considered more niche. Not only from a technology (enabling) perspective, but from an ecosystem (business development) perspective!

- Don

Friday, January 20, 2006

Nominate your favorite OS project for OS Pavilion at EclipseCon

EclipseCon is going to have an "Open Source Pavilion" this year (thanks Business Objects for your sponsorship!) The goal of the Pavilion is to invite Open Source projects that represent the spirit of the Eclipse community.

We're looking for projects outside of Eclipse (since there will already be lots of exposure for Eclipse projects in the sessions, tutorials, panels, etc...)

Is there an OS Project you think should be invited? A project that perhaps has greatly benefited your work with Eclipse? Or a complementary project? Or perhaps something you think is just freaking cool and has nothing to do with Eclipse. If so, please send us your nominations! Details on the nominations and benefits of being selected can be found here.

- Don

LAMP + Eclipse - What should we call it?

I can already tell I'm going to use the phrase "LAMP + Eclipse" a lot, so I'm going to start using YAA (yet another acronym ) to describe LAMP + Eclipse. I've narrowed it down a bit and put a poll on the blog to get community feedback. (Click here if you are in an aggregator/rss reader to see poll)

- Don

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Business virtual track at EclipseCon 2006

The program for EclipseCon this year is really starting to take shape, and I see the virtual Business Track is looking really strong. It's great that EclipseCon is not only a deeply technical conference (4 or 5 tracks at any given time) but it also provides a lot of value on the business side. Rather than bore you with my own play-by-play, check out the virtual business track for Tuesday and Wednesday. There are still a couple weeks left to take advantage of early registration and you should register early given the propensity of EclipseCon to become standing room only!

- Don

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

DRM, Open Source and the End of Monopolies

Punt "DRM" into your favorite blog search tool and you will see it's a hot topic in the blogosphere lately, likely spurred by FSF's mention of it in GPL v3.

I was cruelly introduced to DRM last year when I bought my nephew an MP3 player that, god forbid, was not an iPod. We tried to put music on it from iTunes that they (to that point) had been listening to on their computer. I felt so naive.

I'm not sure who asked the question, a pissed off uncle, nephew or Mom, but it resonated immediately: "Why doesn't iTunes want our money"? In other words, DRM is doomed to demands of the market, and the market doesn't want "digital lard, clogging the arteries of our digital lifestyle" (thanks James for that great visual). Sure enough, James points today to, a site focusing on labels that allows consumer flexibility. I'm sure it will be a big hit, especially if they ever offer a pay-per song model (since my nephews would be a bit daunted by a $9.99/month bill, and their Uncle isn't that generous :). They even have "Fall Out Boy" on their band list, which is tough to find on some other sites.

The bottom line is that I am not at all worried about DRM in the mid to long term. Sure, in the short run I'm going to have to do an end-run around the iTunes of the world, but ultimately the market will decide what's best.

Open source has shifted the value of software away from primarily the license to execute a particular set of bits. Now the value is much more up to users to determine - is it in support, maintenance, services, documentation, quality, flexibility, brand, association, interoperability, portability, mashability and so on.

Think of DRM as "traditional commercial software" where the value is perceived by the vendors to be primarily in the license to execute a particular set of bits through a music player. Consumers know that's not at all where the value is, and ergo DRM is doomed to insignificance.

- Don

Monday, January 16, 2006

First two week at Eclipse Foundation

I've now been with the Eclipse Foundation for two full weeks and there have been a number of things that have caught me by surprise.

First, and luckily, Wayne hasn't taken his shirt off and plunged into the refridgerator once. Apparently this is just a seasonal behavior.

At the annual kick off meeting I got to meet Bjorn and Ward. They both have reputations as excellent communicators, and Bjorn's proved it to me with a 3 minute lecture on how the Foundation Councils work after I'd spent two days trying to figure it out...

I also got to meet Ralph Mueller, who is helping with the Ecosystem in Europe. I'd link to Ralph's blog, but apparently blogs aren't cool in Germany (sic), so instead I'll link to three random google pictures of people named "Ralph Mueller", none of whom are the one in question. 1, 2, 3. The Eclipse Ecosystem is very strong in Europe and there is a much strong social network of contacts and relationships than I'm used to in the North American software industry. I'm hoping to steal a lot of what has been working well for Ralph and see how it can apply here.

I was introduced to a neat avatar style called "Hackergotchi". Take a look at the Planet Eclipse blog aggregator to see some examples. Not only is it a really neat visual to quickly identify authorship of entries, but it's also an easy way for a guy like me to remove some neck fat.

- Don

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I've always been a big fan of using Monster as a bit of an indicator for technology adoption. My theory is that if people are actually using a technology, then they are likely looking for those skills, and the incidence of the keywords on Monster will go up. There are issues of course, like the fact that many jobs go filled without ever being posted somewhere like Monster, geographical blips, hiring cycles, and so on. Moreover, be careful of searches that bring back non-IT related hits such as "Ruby" bringing in ads for "Ruby Tuesday" and "Ruby's Diner", not to mention that PhyAmerica Gov Services is hiring an RN Case Manager and the contact is Ruby Magnum (a nice lady, I'm sure). To combat some of the overlapping terms, I like to use (lesser known than Monster, but still quite popular). is exclusively focused on tech, so no restaurant ads :).

A few days ago I punched in "Eclipse" on and got back 490 job offers. JDeveloper returned 95. NetBeans + "Net Beans" returned 41. IntelliJ returned 27. The numbers on monster are quite similar, but it takes some effort to get useful data.

AJAX hit 272, which is really taking off from when I checked late last year.

- Don

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Six (6) Degrees of Freedom

There is definitely a strong association between open source and "free" - but "free" is one of those words that has a lot of meaning. Over the years I've collected a number of definitions of "free".

Free as in Freedom. This is one of the more compelling aspects for developers. Freedom to just download and use. "Sticking it to the man", so to speak. No trial periods, no reduced functionality. Free software foundations notes it as "free as in liberty, or free as in speech".

Free as is Open. Everything is open and you can tinker at will. No black boxes, no"magic happens here" routines. Change whatever your skills and desire allow. No proprietary lock in or restraints.

Free as is Beer. There's nothing like a free beer. You enjoy the beverage and it has many pleasant after effects.

Free as in Puppy. This is one of the concerns managers have with free software and is a key argument commercial vendors use when competing with open source. The fact is that software has a learning curve and support & maintenance cycle. Just because the software license is free, doesn't mean the cost of ownership is.

Free as in Community/Ecosystem.I missed the 60's, but I hear it was a great example of free and open community :). Open source and community go hand-in-hand. Well, good open source does at least. It's not good enough to have free software if there isn't a community backing it up and continuing it's growth.

Free to participate. It should be easy to not only leverage the community/ecosystem, but easy to become part of it!

- Don

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Open Source Community Development

Just to give an example of some of the terminology confusing the open source community, I've noticed more and more that people talk of open source as more than just a "software thing". This Wired article from 2003 nails the idea - the ideals of open source are appearing everywhere from biotechnology to supply chain management to organizing little-league tournaments.

So what are the ideals in question? Well, Ian summized it for me the other day in a single word - community. It's all about the community, and fostering the community is what an ecosystem is all about.

The challenge though, is that in a traditional commercial enterprise building a community is usually punted to a marketing department and staffed with marketing weenies. Marketing weenies, as they are, often get too distracted with terms like "lead generation" and "customer conversions" and therefore loose sight of the community ideals. Moreover, some community-building activities look strangely like traditional Business Development activities, which can lead to the odd political run-in.

I wonder if this is why many open source projects like Eclipse have been so successful at building a community. Without a traditional marketing or business development department involved, members focus on the community in a more genuine way.

I think is also explains why I struggle explaining to people what the heck it is I'm going to be doing here at Eclipse. Ecosystem development is not really traditional marketing, it's not really traditional business development, and it's not really evangelism. Yet, tell someone your role is to develop and promote a "community" and you'll get an even more confused look.

- Don