Thursday, March 20, 2008

EclipseCon 08, we barely knew ye!

It's a surreal experience to spend 8 months planning a conference only to have it over in the blink of an eye. Now I know how the Foundation Staff feels every year!

First, let me highlight a few of my favorite presentations: Diversity, Eclipse 4.0, RTSC, C++ GUI Builder (NAB), and p2. The Eclipse 4.0 presentation gave us a peek into some ideas for the next platform. I really like the presentation model changes, but to be honest, I'm not sold on the "Eclipse over the Web" concept. I'm sure it will be useful to some in the community, but probably not for the core tools of the device software development market. That being said, the platform team appears to be responding to our concerns about diversity and transparency, and I'm looking forward to Wind River helping with the effort.

The Realtime Software Components (RTSC) talk was an excellent technical outline of an exciting new project proposal in DSDP, and the NAB short talk included an amazing music player demo built on top of the MWT libraries (the run-time side of NAB). Finally, the DSDP BoF was an excellent discussion about creating off-Foundation packages, a la Wascana, for the embedded and mobile markets. We'll follow up with some notes soon.

Second, I want to reflect on the keynotes from yesterday and today. Fake Steve was a tough act to follow, but even so, Sam Ramji's talk left me wanting more. Sam was certainly honest about Microsoft being at the beginning of the open source learning curve. He outlined Microsoft's engagements with open source, starting in 2005. The dominant focus has been on interoperability, and the Open Source Software Lab, which Sam directs, has engaged in the following areas over the past few years:

  • Linux – Interoperability between Hypervisors
  • Mozilla – Firefox on Vista, open source windows media player 11 Firefox plug-in.
  • Apache and Subversion – better performance on Windows
  • MySQL – integration to Visual Studio through VSIP
  • PHP – running on Windows Server
  • Samba

He went on to outline new initiatives between Microsoft and the Eclipse Foundation:

  • Higgins and CardSpace – protocol collaboration and documentations and interoperability testing
  • SWT for WPF – Collaboration for improved SWT support on Vista (fixing things that bug Steve)

As a collection, these are great signs of progress, and perhaps if the talk had ended there, it would have been enough. But things didn't go quite as smoothly in the Q&A session. Sam punted on questions about when Microsoft would join Eclipse, what other Eclipse Projects they might want to get involved in, and whether C# support in Eclipse is something in which Microsoft would invest. In all cases, the answer was essentially, "we're still investigating." The biggest faux pas was Sam's answer to why Microsoft wasn't pursuing commit rights on any projects. His answer focused on the importance of interoperability over putting specific engineers into Eclipse development, but it left a bad taste in many people's mouths based on conversations I had afterwards.

In Sam's defense, I suspect he has a very challenging job promoting open source technology within Microsoft, and all evidence is that he's making excellent progress. Still, the indicators of true Eclipse support will be Membership in the Foundation and committers on Eclipse projects. I really hope we see that in the future. In the Community Spotlight panel, I predicted 2010 as the year when Microsoft joins Eclipse. But then I also predicted anti-gravity shoes and telepathic communication for that year, so it's probably best to ignore me.

Moving on to Cory Doctorow's keynote today. You know, there is a pattern emerging around Day 3 keynotes: they are sleeper hits! Cory's talk centered around the Information Economy and the fact that attempts to restrict information for profit have either failed or are in the process of failing. He talked about copyrights, open source software, music, movies, web collaboration, net neutrality, the DMCA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Public Knowledge, and Creative Commons. I have 2 pages worth of notes that I won't bore you with, since I doubt I'll do his talk justice. But he repeatedly illustrated the battle between information that has essentially become free and those who would continue to restrict access to information in the name of profit. Whether or not you agree with his thesis, it was certainly interesting and enlightening. My favorite quotation (slightly paraphrased): "When you hit Ctrl-R to reply to an email and the original email is copied into the new email, you have committed an act of copyright infringement….Imagine if lawyers had designed email."

Tags: EclipseCon, e4, RTSC, NAB, MWT, Wascana, p2, Fake Steve Jobs, Sam Ramji, Microsoft, Cory Doctorow, Higgins, CardSpace, SWT, WPF, Linux, Mozilla, Apache, Subversion, MySQL, PHP, Samba, DMCA, EFF, Public Knowledge, Creative Commons, Open Source Software Lab


At 8:48 AM, Blogger Mike Milinkovich said...

Personally, my favourite quote from Cory's talk was "Ideas are cheap. Execution is hard." That certainly matches my personal experience.


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