Apologies for not getting day-by-day updates from EclipseCon. Between the duties of being on the program committee, doing our sessions, attending sessions, and dealing with the news from home, I didn’t have time to write insightful and humorous stuff for my blog. I would like to thank those people who stopped and offered their sympathies, though.

Here are my notes and comments from the activities for the week.

Monday

09:00 – Eclipse Pulsar meeting

Spent the morning working on my slides for Tuesday and monitoring the conversation of the Pulsar meeting. Pulsar may impact my product in the future, but Christian, Dino and the other members of the project are more involved in driving the strategies. One humorous point of the meeting–everyone in the room had their laptops open, except the guys from RIM. One of the RIM guys said they can do everything they need to do from their Blackberries, which was greeted with chuckles and skepticism from the other handset manufacturers in the room.

13:00 – Embedded Target Communications and Tools for mobile Linux

I listened to Martin Oberhuber and Michael Scharf’s TCF presentation, but I didn’t go through the exercises. I’m not a Java developer (yet). I think they did a good job conveying the purpose and usefulness of TCF as well as the ways to use it. I would like to see the TCF agent become the de-facto standard for embedded target communications, which will provide tools developers and end-user a level playing field.

Martin and Michael are both brilliant at what they do, but they are two distinctly different characters. Martin is a very thorough and makes certain that things work correctly. Michael is more ad-lib. Several times, the demos quit working right after Michael had spoken or done something and Martin had to fix things on the fly. I know that Michael wasn’t doing it on purpose, but it was interesting to see their distinct personalities working in concert.

For the TmL presentation, it’s hard to be objective. There were about 30 people in the room, which is good, but I would’ve liked to have seen more. Fabio and Mauren did a fantastic job presenting the materials. They worked hard for several weeks to come up with a set of exercises that were relevant and yet attainable in the 2 hours allotted to them. Several people had problems, which were easily fixed by moving code from several pre-defined points into the workspace.

What really impressed me was how easily Michael Scharf was able to integrate the VNC viewer component from TmL into a workbench that also contained the Remote System Explorer from DSDP/TM. Then again, Michael is a genius at this stuff and is always thinking about ways to bring things together.

17:30 – Eclipse Community Awards and Powerpoint karaoke

The Foundation did a good job setting the tone for the week and the sessions at this event. Lots of laughs as different pairs of notable people got on stage and made fools of themselves in front of their peers. This is the real joy of EclipseCon and one of the reasons we have a good foundation of people. Any group that can stop and make fun of itself, while still striving for perfection can’t be all bad.

FWIW, I’ve been at IBM’s Rational Developer Conference before and this type of behavior just wouldn’t play to that crowd. Even though Eclipse began life as an IBM product, the people are what make the difference.

Tuesday

9:00 – The Social Mind: Designing like groups Matter

Clay Shirky and Jeff Atwood talking about how groups of people interact and how those interactions should be considered in designing software. I thoroughly enjoyed this session because they drew from their real-world experiences and observations. Clay mentioned Wikipedia several times in his talk. I am a huge Wikipedia addict and I loved how Clay talked about how it is easier in Wikipedia’s system for someone (good) to undo the damage done by someone else (evil) than it was to do the damage itself.

11:10 – Android and the Eclipse Ecosystem

Xavier from Google went through the process of building an Android application using the Google Android Development Tools (ADT) plugins. Overall, I think the session went well—Xavier presented the concepts of editing and building well enough. I would’ve like to have seen more of how the community at large and the value proposition of Eclipse played a role in their decision to use Eclipse versus building in house, relying on command lines, NetBeans, etc.

One bit of feedback I got from several people who watched the presentation. They gave -1 votes to the session, because all they heard was how Google was taking and using Eclipse projects and nothing about how they were contributing to Eclipse projects.

13:30 – Convergence in device software – Use the TmL project to create tools for mobile Linux developers

Our presentation of the Tools for mobile Linux project. I discussed the strategic value of projects like TmL to embedded and mobile Linux products. Fabio presented a short demo of TmL inside of Eclipse and I showed the adoption of the project inside of Motorola’s MOTODEV Studio product. I think the session went well. We had about 35 people in the room. The votes were all +1’s (at least as of March 29), so I hope people got some useful information from the session.

I asked a couple of questions around the concepts of community and the commons, because I’m curious what others think of the concept. If people answered the questions, I would give them a prize (2GB USB flash drive). The questions were…

  • Have you reverted damage done by someone else on Wikipedia?
  • Have you contributed money to Wikipedia during their pledge drive?
  • Have you let someone you don’t know cut in line at breakfast or lunch?
  • Have you submitted a bug in an Eclipse project other than your own?
  • Have you submitted a patch to a bug in an Eclipse project other than your own?

I was amazed and depressed by the results. It seems that Eclipse (and wikipedia) have a large community who use the work, either passively or actively, but rarely, if ever, contribute in any form. I had several more questions written down, but I don’t have my notes from the session with me. I finally resorted to a couple of easy ones in order to keep the talk lively and actually give away my prizes. But, it gives me food for thought. I tried the same exercise the next night in the bar with better results—it would appear that those of us who live for the opportunity to commune with cold beer are truly the ones who keep the community going.

For the record, I can answer yes to the first 4. The last one is outside my job role right now, but there was a time when I could say yes. I do have contributed code in other OSS projects, though.

14:30 – DSDP Sub-Project Updates for Galileo

I arrived late to this one after following up with a few folks after my talk. I’m afraid I missed all but my team and the TM project. But, the consensus is that we are all on track for Galileo.

15:30 – Make Money Fast! Market Your Killer App with the Eclipse Mobile Industry Working Group

Lori and Dino led a panel of experts from AT&T, Device Anywhere, Handmark, and Motorola on how to get mobile applications created, tested and distributed through different programs promoted by the companies on the panel.

Ed Schmit from AT&T had a lot of unique insights for me. While his company has a vested interest in keeping the iPhone successful, he would be just as happy if the next successful smart phone had batwings on it.

16:30 – Global Eclipse Ecosystem: Leveraging the Opportunities in India and Brazil

I attended this session in support of Vini Pagano, who manages our developer teams in Brazil. His company, the Eldorado Institute, is looks to establish relationships with other companies in the Eclipse ecosystem.

I wish I could say the talk was SRO, but it wasn’t. Business track talks at a technical conference are always lightly attended. But, Vini was able to do a lot of networking behind the scenes and I’m very happy to provide a positive reference for their work.

17:20 – Free Beer (Vendor expo)

The vendor expo at EclipseCon isn’t a big event. A small handful of companies showcase their technologies, but it’s the wrong crowd for selling. Most of these people are the developers who create technology and have little or no purchasingauthority. I found a few things of interest to me and I plan to follow up on them, but overall, I don’t get much out of the expo.

20:45 – Embedded and Mobile Linux BOF

By the time this BOF came around, I was tired and not particularly effective as a moderator. I wanted to find if there are synergies between projects we could use or ways to leverage each others technology. We spent a great deal of the time discussing the Eclispe IDE for Linux, which I think is a valuable project.

Wednesday

9:00 Building Applications for the Cloud with Amazon

This was a decent talk, but not nearly so entertaining as the keynote the day before. Peter Vosshall spoke about the Amazon cloud (AWS), which is interesting but not particularly relevant to Eclipse.

Don MacAskill from Smugmug got on the stage and talked about how they use Amazon AWS for all their hosting and the advantages of it. While Don’s talk was entertaining, it wasn’t particularly relevant to Eclipse. On a side note, I may try using smugmug for some aspects of my photography hobby because I’m a bit annoyed with the way flickr works when mixing the different types of content that I create.

Finally, someone from Peter’s team got on stage (name?) to announce a set of Eclipse plugins for working in the Amazon cloud.

10:10 – Building Communities: The Rise and Fall and Rise of the CDT Project

Doug Schaeffer has a long history with Eclipse projects and he is a man with an opinion. I’m particularly interested in what he has to say because some of those projects are the same ones my team uses and contributes to. Through the course of the talk, he was visibly emotional a few times talking about the way the CDT project has evolved over the years.

Doug spoke candidly, without naming names, about how Eclipse projects are burdened by those who use the work of the community without contributing. He argued that those who contribute in some manner; whether with code, money, or time; should have more of a say in the way a project operates. Despite what many may think Eclipse is not a democracy, it is a meritocracy—you get in based on what you do.

This talk got its share of 0’s and -1’s because Doug was giving his opinion. He did a good job making his opinion known without pointing fingers or being antagonistic. The people who are a burden need to hear it some time so they know where they stand.

13:30 – Mylyn: Redefining the “I” of the IDE

I’ve used Mylyn to handle some of the work for my TmL project, but I haven’t learned to use it effectively. I want to learn to use Mylyn or it’s commercial equivalent, Tasktop, to run various aspects of my professional and personal life. I asked a couple of questions during the session and caught the author outside to talk more. Now, I just have to figure out how to expose this to my wife so she can remind me to pick up milk on my way home.

14:30 – CDT for Linux

This session by Andrew from RedHat is of interest to me because a lot of the concepts overlap with TmL. I have a session at a Consumer Linux conference next week and I plan to use some of the materials from this talk as a basis.

15:30 – What's new in p2?

I walked out on this session because I didn’t find it particularly useful to me. We will use p2, but I wasn’t getting enough out of the session to want to continue with it.

16:30 – What's next for device development in Eclipse

Doug Gaff talked about the current state of device development and what he sees as the trends for the next few years. I’m not sure if he said anything that I don’t already know, but I was happy to serve as the straight-man for his punch lines.

17:20 – Free Beer (Poster reception)

Pretty good food tonight and I ended up with a plethora of drink tickets that I sadly wasn’t able to use. I looked at the posters, but the only one that caught my attention was the IP process poster from the Legal team at the Eclipse Foundation.

20:00 – Linux Extended IDE – Linux Tracing

Following up on my BOF the previous night, this session talked entirely about the tracing aspects of the Linux IDE. Dominique from Sony-Ericsson is putting his teams efforts around this project and can use some of the things we have in TmL.

I took a photo of a guy sleeping in this session who appears to be the high-tech equivalent of a homeless person—he applies for press credentials for a show, walks around, eats the food, drinks the beer, and then doesn’t write anything about the show or the technology.

After Hours

After the Linux BOF, I went to the hotel lobby bar. A lot of people were there, including a large group of single women who were obviously not with EclipseCon. A lot of good discussions went on around the various packaging projects, CDT, embedded tools, etc. At some point, the conversation evolved (devolved?) into discussions of Burning Man and who was (and wasn’t) German. (Does the German Diaspora count?)

Thursday

I didn’t make the keynote on Thursday morning. I was physically and mentally drained. Too many nights up until midnight or later talking with other leads, followed by early a.m. breakfast and meetings.

I spent the morning wearing my “other hat” as a product manager on a commercial product based on Eclipse. After lunch, I took my developers to a nearby shopping center so they could get some last-minute items before leaving for Brazil. In the evening, we had a group meal in downtown Sunnyvale before we all headed our separate ways.

Final Thoughts

This was my 4th EclipseCon and easily the best for me. In the past, I've been a part of products that used pieces of Eclipse technology but I wasn't immersed in it. Last year, I had just started with Motorola and hadn't yet become a project lead. The last 10 months has seen me learn a lot and I look forward to learning more in the year to come.