Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Eclipse on Mac - Part Deux

The most popular post on my blog is by far the recent Eclipse on Mac discussion.

Yesterday, as a follow-up, Ken Gilmer posted an itemized list of things that bother him about running Eclipse on Mac, complete with screenshots.

Personally, I tend to stay away from any operating system that does not come out of the state of Washington. But for all you Mac users out there, take a look at Ken's post and let's have another interesting thread going :)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Greatest Schism of All

I have recently voiced my dismay about EclipseZone running Netbeans ads.

While the criticism is, of course, justified, I may have been a little too hard on our friends over at EclipseZone.

After all, how would I, the community and the Eclipse Foundation react if Sun sponsored EclipseCon?

I am nothing if not reflective, introspective and contemplative; so here is how I imagine such a scenario would play out:

"The Eclipse Foundation director would announce the decision of Sun to sponsor EclipseCon on his blog. He would welcome Sun with open arms and reaffirm the respect we have for Netbeans and how competition has been healthy and good for both camps.

A Sun evangelist, most likely someone from Great Britain, would then post a comment on the director's blog thanking him for his kind words.

The story then gets picked up by ZDNet, where Drama lives. One can expect an over-the-top headline like 'Sun has made a major step toward healing the schism in the Java community, which is the biggest schism that humanity has seen since the schism of 1054."

It will be one big love fest.

Fast forward a week or two...

We wake up one day and we read some earth-shattering news that some random guy from Sioux City, Iowa has just switched back to Eclipse after trying the 3.3M5a milestone, or some single mother from Grand Rapids, Michigan just tried Matisse and liked what she saw.

At which point, bloggers on Planet Eclipse and Planet Netbeans pick up the groundbreaking stories and start interpreting those "honest evaluations". Enter EclipseZone with one of their inflammatory, yet well-intentioned, posts and we are back to square one.

The love fest is over."

Sounds about right? :)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Panel Best Practices

In the second installment of my "I am so filled with the joy of EclipseCon that I cannot contain it" series, I would like to discuss how much I am looking forward to attend this year's line-up of panels.

I am a big fan of the panel concept, but up until now I have never attended a panel that lived up to my expectations at any conference (EclipseCon or otherwise). I am hoping this year would be the exception.

So I compiled a list of factors that have contributed to my negative experience with panels and turned it into a list of Panel Best Practices. After all, if life gives you gator, make gatorade.

It is clearly not intended to be a Letterman-esque top ten list, particularly since it's not funny. I just happened to have 10 thoughts on the topic:
  1. Limit the number of panelists to a maximum of 5. That should be sufficient to start and sustain a 45-minute discussion where everybody gets decent air time. No need to assemble a soccer team on stage.
  2. When assembling a panel, make sure to invite people who are qualified to talk about the subject matter. At times last year, I kept thinking to myself: "Who are these people on stage and what makes them so qualified to talk about this topic?"
  3. Panelists should keep their introductions brief. Stating the name and affiliation is sufficient. Panelist, it would be best if you saved interesting facts about yourself, such as your aversion to foods that start with the letter Q, for the tell-all autobiography.
  4. Panelists, who are competitors in real life, tend to take jabs at each other, then pretend it was joke and say 'Oh, I'm just kidding...'. Don't do that. It's not funny.
  5. Panelists, who are friends in real life, occasionally (and awkwardly) start picking on one of their own in the name of comedy. Don't do that. It's not funny.
  6. It is certifiably lame to still be making Brangelina and/or Netbeans girls jokes and references.
  7. The moderator is the only guy on stage who is allowed to be funny -- but not too funny. People are not there to see a stand-up act.
  8. The audience Q & A portion should be controlled tightly by the moderator. It only takes one persistent audience member to ask an off-topic question and before you know it, an RCP Best Practices panel turns into a 30-minute discussion of the SWT_AWT bridge on Mac.
  9. The audience should lower their expectations. A 45-minute discussion will not result in closure on the open issues being discussed.
  10. A 45-minute discussion may not result in closure, but it would be nice if it resulted in an action plan or a concensus on a direction going forward. Otherwise, we would be having the same conversation next year.

When Jupiter Aligns with Mars

For the past few days, I have been so filled with the joy of EclipseCon that I cannot contain it.

However, March seems like an inconvenient time to have the Eclipse event of the year --particularly for the Eclipse developers:
  1. EclipseCon preparation time takes away from development time when we could be fixing bugs and adding new features. Add onto that the week of EclipseCon itself where development practically comes to a halt.
  2. Teams try to cram as much new functionality as possible into M5 to showcase it at the conference. Quality of some of these features may be somewhat questionable, given that there was not enough time to test.
Wouldn't July, for example, be a better time to hold the conference? It would be right after the release of the Eclipse train; so it is a time when the developers are unwinding, and the quality/volume of new features is at its peak.

As for why EclipseCon is currently held in March every year, here is my conjecture:
"Given our apparent (and inexplicable ;-) fascination with Jupiter, March is probably the month when Jupiter aligns with Mars or something. So we must hold EclipseCon at that time. We must!"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

OSGi - the miniseries

Over the past few days, Neil Bartlett has published three installments in his OSGi tutorial series:
  1. Getting started with OSGi: Your first bundle
  2. Getting started with OSGi: Interacting with the Framework
  3. A Comparison of Eclipse extensions and OSGi services
With M5 behind us, I finally had time to read the miniseries. Here is my review:
"Bartlett's OSGi miniseries is the best miniseries since Alex Haley's Roots!"

I encourage every developer to make some time to read these articles. They are a great read and you will learn a lot. The third one in the series is my favourite so far.

By comparison, if you had spent three hours watching the Grammys on Sunday night, the only life lesson you would have learned is that "Hips don't lie" :)

Unfortunately, Neil's excellent series is hosted on EclipseZone, so you will most likely be greeted with a Netbeans ad at the top of the page when you go read it.

When will this madness stop? Is it hurting Eclipse? No. But it is certainly not helping either.