Archive for June 2007
Earlier this week I was on the “How Do We Get More Apps on Linux?” panel at the Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit. I certainly have to agree with Danese Coopers‘s comments about being on panels. The more questions from the audience, the better IMHO.
As she alludes to, I personally think that #1 sin for any panel member is to be boring. I am always willing to go out of my way to try to keep the conversation lively. It’s always nice to see my efforts noticed 🙂
More seriously, the point I was on at the time was that most ISVs want to add Linux as one of their supported platforms, and need tools and application frameworks to do so. Ideally, those frameworks should allow the same code to be portable across Linux variants, Windows and Mac. There needs to be a way to reduce the development cost and risk of adding Linux as a supported platform. Of course, we at Eclipse think that RCP is a pretty good technology for doing that.
One audience member also mentioned Mono as a technology they had used with great success. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be a lot of interest by the distro vendors in the room — other than Novell — in picking Mono up.
Without some sort of “standard” for application frameworks in the Linux world that also supports Windows and Mac, I predict it will remain difficult to attract mainstream app and ISV developers to Linux. I haven’t spent any time looking at it, but perhaps Qt Jambi is another potential solution.
One interesting cultural point of interest: I was pretty careful to always talk about “…tools and application frameworks…” but what resonated back from the audience questions was always just “tools”. I have a personal theory that few people in the existing Linux ecosystem really grok what application frameworks are about and why they’re important for platform adoption. This is classical “Crossing the Chasm” technology marketing, and I got the impression that Linux is struggling a bit with figuring out what it needs to accelerate past the early adopters and become truly mainstream. (At least in the more consumer/desktop space.) Definitely the plethora of distributions with minor variations doesn’t help with adoption. An issue which the LSB will hopefully help address.
Personally, my favorite part of the panel was actually when someone asked why there aren’t Eclipse-based tools to help create LSB’s. I think that’s a great idea and hopefully we can get the communities together to make that a reality.
This is the end result of quite a bit of discussion and hard work on the part of Mik, the Myl** team, the webmaster team and the legal folks at Eclipse. As described in the FAQ, we are currently going through the process of re-writing our trademark guidelines to include Eclipse project names as trademarks of the Eclipse Foundation. (Aside: the reason the projects cannot hold them directly is that they are not separate legal entities. So the Foundation will hold the project trademarks for the benefit of the projects.)
As we looked at the Mylar name, we decided that renaming the project would be the best long-term decision for the project, its community and its adopters. I have no doubt that there will be some short-term annoyances and I apologize to all impacted. But once the decision was made, getting it done in time for Europa definitely made the most sense.
But in the end, the Mik and his team are moving forward and this project remains one of the coolest things happening at Eclipse. It’s wonderful to have such a talented team as part of the Eclipse community.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, it’s been three years since I joined the Eclipse Foundation. This is the first installment in a series of blog posts on the past, present and future of the Eclipse Foundation that I plan to write.
Out of curiosity I decided to go back at take a look at the presentation  that I gave to the Eclipse Board of Directors at the time. As part of their recruitment process, they wanted each candidate to give a brief talk to outline their interest, agenda and qualifications.
I was actually rather surprised how well the talk has withstood the test of time. Most of the goals and priorities I talked about three years ago seem to be relevant even three years later.
I thought it would be interesting to review a couple of highlights and point out a few things that I got right, and a couple of boners as well. Please let me know what you think. And remember: the points in this presentation were made over three years ago, before I even started working at Eclipse. When you’re looking at the slides, remember to do the Time Warp.
- Towards the end of the presentation I had two slides on what I thought the role of the Executive Director would be, and what values the incumbent would have to bring to the job. I honestly believe they’ve held the test of time, and I will leave it to the readers to tell me how they think I’ve done in meeting those over the past three years. I should mention that what I described as “Business Development” at the time I would now refer to as “Ecosystem Development”. E.g. It is a very large part of the Executive Director’s job to try to drive value and commercial opportunity to the member companies of Eclipse.
- “Eclipse Today” (e.g. Eclipse in 2004): I still think that these points were pretty much spot-on. The most relevant ones were the points about being perceived as IBM controlled and limited marketing presence outside of IBM activities. Later under Short-term Priorities, I mentioned a goal to ““Re-brand” as an independent entity”. To a large degree, that was a very large part of what we accomplished in 2004, leading to the rapid expansion in strategic membership in 2005. Establishing Eclipse as an independent entity took some time and effort. The tipping point was EclipseCon 2005 when BEA, Borland, CA, Sybase and Wind River all joined as strategic developer members.
- There were a few times where I made the point that the the health and vitality of the Eclipse open source project(s) is absolutely key. Although Eclipse is in many ways a trade association or consortium, the source of all value is what happens in the projects. The perfect scenario is where we see a virtuous cycle of growth and investment between the projects and the ecosystem. I believe we’ve made a lot of progress in establishing that. We’ve certainly seen a large growth in the number of organizations contributing code, projects and committers at Eclipse.
- Of course growing the ecosystem was and is an important goal. Our membership has grown to well over 150 companies. Five have joined so far this month!
Growth in membership is an indicator of the health of the overall ecosystem. But probably even more important is the huge number of products now built on top of Eclipse, with more coming all the time.
- I was mostly wrong when thinking about what I termed as “exploratory” projects for Eclipse.
I’ve always thought that a sign that RCP was doing well would be someone interested in driving a project to build productivity tools on top of it. Lotus Notes is the first instance of that happening that I’m aware of, and a very impressive one at that. But at the time I was thinking of an open source project and despite a few close calls that has not come to pass.
Thinking that Mono would be interested in using Eclipse was, in retrospect, naive.
- Up until now at least, I was definitely wrong proposing of system integrators as a potential source of growth. Although they use Eclipse heavily, to date we’ve been unsuccessful in engaging with them to get involved in Eclipse as either members or contributors.
 In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I made a few edits to the original presentation. I added “March 2004” to the first slide. I deleted several references to personnel decisions in the interest of privacy. And I deleted one slide which referenced confidential information. Everything else is as it was.
I made the mistake of signing up on LinkedIn a couple of years back because it seemed like an interesting idea with some potential. I was wrong. This site has no value for me whatsoever, and I’ve asked that they close my account.
In about 2.5 years the only times I’ve logged into LinkedIn was to accept the invitations people sent me. The important concept that LinkedIn seems to have forgotten is that if they want people to stay, there actually has to be some value in it for them. And unless you’re an inveterate networker, I just don’t see what the value is. For me at least, social networking is an enabler, not an end in itself.
I also observed an interesting phenomenon: the ratio of invitations I received from people I knew well versus the people who were at best acquaintances was approximately 1:5.
So I apologize to all of you who have sent me invitations or requests for endorsements. I’m outta here.