Saturday, December 20, 2008

Demo Camp Chronicles: Iasi, Romania

On November 11, I had the pleasure of hosting the first-ever Eclipse demo camp in Romania, showcasing some of the Eclipse-based products being developed in Iasi.


The evening started with a little drama.

Looking at this rare photo taken on a cell phone, one might suspect that it depicts my reaction to a world economy crashing. But no.

That is the moment when I realized that the wireless internet connection at the restaurant was weak . I was unable to connect to the license server and therefore the first demo was toast.

In a brilliant move, Andrei (in the yellow sweater) suggested to use the offline trial license to start the product. The show then went on.

Preparations and Photo-ops

Master of Ceremonies

By 7 p.m., I had taken a chill pill, so I did the MC thing by welcoming the guests and giving a quick overview of the program for the evening.

Hugo Boss was the unofficial sponsor of the event. Hopefully, next year Gillette will also sponsor.

Food and Beverage

Food and drink were served right away. It is a good idea to watch demos on a full stomach and not make people wait.

Demo 1: The Latest and Greatest in SQL Development

Marius Papara gave a preview of some of the new features in the upcoming 2.0 release of Embarcadero PowerSQL.

Demo 2: XEclipse

Eduard Moraru of XWiki gave a presentation on XEclipse, an Eclipse plug-in for viewing, editing and managing XWiki pages.

Demo 3: Database Change Management

Razvan Fodor and Sergiu Vidrascu showed how Embarcadero Change Manager can help database admininstrators and developers cope with the problems related to database change management lifecycle.


The event was a great success. Thanks to the Eclipse Foundation for sponsoring
and to the organizing committee for their hard work.
Next stop: the Warsaw demo camp.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Eclipse DemoCamp Triple-Header

I am so filled with the joy of Eclipse DemoCamps '08 that I cannot contain it.

Poland 2 - Romania 1

First, it was the Poznan camp with its Eclipse enthusiasts and famous goats.

Like that's not enough, I then got a generous invitation from Jacek Laskowski, leader of the Warsaw Java User Group, to attend their all-day extravaganza.

Then on a dare to set a record for attending the most demo camps in a single month, I decided to organize the first-ever demo camp in my adopted home city of Iasi, Romania.

I am not aware of companies, other than Embarcadero, that are building Eclipse-based products in Iasi. However, there is a strong Eclipse presence as a Java IDE in Iasi universities and companies. The last time we hosted an Eclipse-centric event, it was attended by 100 people (a full house) on a rainy Saturday morning. So that's a good sign.

3 Simple Rules

I have six dining room chairs in my house, so I have no experience organizing events for more than 5 people. But, who better to advise me on how to organize a demo camp than the Eclipse Foundation's Marketing Events Manager/Genius Lynn Gayowski?

Here are Lynn's simple rules on how to organize a successful demo camp:
  1. Create an organizing committee made up of four reliable, happening people who can carry stuff and have good planning skills.
  2. At least one person on the committee must have a car.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes.

The Committee on Eclipse DemoCamps Affairs

So we sent the committee on a faux-planning session, where they were supposed to look busy in a photo-op against a leafy backdrop.

From left to right: Simona Gavrilescu, Ioana Alecsandrescu, Andrei Spitelnicu, Daniel Taroboanta

They were supposed to pretend to be working, but Daniel, who is a workaholic, was clearly coding.

Five minutes later, even though they seemed to have been wearing comfortable shoes, they got tired and sat down to rest.

The date and venue will be finalized this week. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Real World: Poznań

I love Eclipse demo camps more than life itself.

My chosen venue for the November '08 camp is Poznań, Poland, which is about a 10-hour flight from my home town. Now that's true love.

The event is hosted by the Eclipse Enthusiasts of Poznań. In addition to being grad students and IBM employees, these busy guys author one of the more entertaining and informative blogs on Eclipse, teach Eclipse summer school and contribute code to the Eclipse platform. In short, I want to be like them when I grow up.

At that event, I plan to demo the latest and greatest in the world of database IDE development. Also, if there is sufficient interest, I may show home movies from my boyhood trip to Michigan :)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Eclipse Over Spain

Lost in Spain

During my recent Lost in Spain™ vacation, I visited Mallorca, Spain's largest Balearic island. Mallorca is home to tennis royalty (Rafael Nadal), Hollywood royalty (Michael Douglas and his young wife) and the summer home to Spain's royal family.

Mallorca is also the home to an old friend Emil, a mechatronic engineer living in the beautiful city of Palma. When I walked into his office, I expected to see a desk covered with electronic equipment, but I was certainly surprised to see an Eclipse application running on his monitor.

Eclipse and Mechatronics

So how is Eclipse used in Mechatronics on a Spanish island? Let's break it down.

Emil is developing a rich client application that communicates via CAN-bus with a range of electronic sensor/actuator control devices using a USB-CAN adapter.

With this application, he can monitor the states/errors, remote-control actuators and change the setting of each installed device. He can also send, read and verify the firmwares of all devices. The number of the control devices can reach 8000 in one installation.

Living La Vida Loca

It was very cool to see Eclipse being used on a daily basis in mechatronics. However, as soon as I realized that I was discussing Eclipse on my vacation, I stormed out of his office and enjoyed a street dance :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Real World: München

A Keynote at W-JAX

I am so filled with the joy of W-JAX '08 that I cannot contain it.

I will be presenting a keynote at the conference in November and I am thrilled. No holds barred. Nothing off limits. It is going to be both fun AND informative.

The First 60 Seconds

I will start my talk with the usual
"I am so happy to be in Münich... The last time I was in Münich was ... blah blah."

You can't go wrong with this intro. Everyone does this bit, including one of my favorites Tim Bray.

Astonishing Tales

Then, I dive right into telling astonishing tales of building commercial software on top of Open Source frameworks.

To give you an idea of how astonishing my tales are, here is a picture taken at EclipseCon 2008 of me telling stories to (from left to right) Ben Pasero (the smartest twenty-something guy I know who does not work at Google - yet), Bernd Kolb, and Martin Aeschlimann (JDT/UI lead and my bestest Swiss friend).

These three guys look mesmerized and I am hoping my talk will have this effect on the 800+ attendees at the conference.

What makes a good keynote?

To me, the best keynotes are ones that meet one or more of the following criteria:
1. they make you laugh
2. they make you cry
3. they make you think

If you have a story about commercial development around Eclipse that meets at least one of the criteria above, I would love to hear it. Please send an email to wassim dot melhem at gmail dot com.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Crime and Punishment


Thinking that your action set is sooooo important that it deserves to appear in the toolbar of every perspective in every Eclipse product that contains your plug-in.

This very common Eclipse programming faux-pas is easy to make. All it takes is set the 'visible' attribute of your action set extension to 'true'.

There are many examples out there, but one example I was bitten by recently is the Ant/External Tools action set in the Eclipse SDK.

Running Ant scripts is useful, but its appeal is certainly not so universal to demand this ultimate level of visibility. The Ant action set currently appears by default in the toolbar of every perspective of every product that packages the org.eclipse.platform feature.

It may be reasonable to see it in the Java perspective:

It is questionable to see it in the Team Synchronizing perspective:

We have also inherited the gift of Ant in the SQL perspective of PowerSQL, where the target audience does not necessarily need Ant or even know what Ant is:


Lesson Learned:

Use the 'visible' attribute wisely when creating an action set, and nobody gets hurt :)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Valley of the Scotts

Following the announcement that my employer is to acquire CodeGear from Borland, I went down to the CodeGear headquarters in Scotts Valley, California to spend a couple of days with my new brothers and sisters in software.

The CodeGear campus is a stunning achievement in architecture and landscaping. I did not have a camera, but I think this aerial view, courtesy of Google, along with these photos will give you an idea.

You can expect many years of great software (Eclipse-based and otherwise) when the acquisition is complete, and I can only hope for more visits to the Valley.

Optimize This

Tuesdays with Ryan

Since the recent rave by Andrew Overholt on what a life-changing experience it is to have lunch with me, my social life has picked up. In fact, I am booked solid right through Labor Day.

At least once a week though, I make time to have lunch with Ryan Smith, a fellow program manager at Embarcadero, where we discuss technology, America's Next Top Model and the meaning of life.

One time, Ryan mentioned how I am far from being the hardcore Eclipse fanatic he had expected me to be, what with me being the PDE guy and all.

That is true. Je love Eclipse. Je can't live without Eclipse. But I don't blindly believe that everything that comes from is great, and everything else is suboptimal.

DB Optimizer

For DB Optimizer (currently in beta), after evaluating our options for a charting component, I authorized the use of a lightweight, powerful and sexy Swing-based component that did not come from Does that make me a bad person? :)

Eclipse is a Great Technology, not a Religion

Incidentally, the IBM Ottawa lab has endured multiple disasters of biblical proportions (floods, power outages, etc.) over the years. No locusts yet.

So on second thought, maybe Eclipse is a religion, but I just pick and choose what is convenient :)

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Joy of EclipseCon

I am so filled with the joy of EclipseCon that I cannot contain it.

There Will Be Blood

On Tuesday, the PDE team is hosting its annual soiree. The evening starts with a PDE State of the Union, followed by a heated debate of today's most controversial plug-in development issues.
As opposed to other sessions that may put you to sleep, the PDE soiree is guaranteed to be an hour and a half of solid entertainment. To make things interesting, this year we will be using a new format: All debates will be settled with a duel, like in colonial times. Failing that, we will resort to a dance-off.

To Market, To Market

With the official release of PowerSQL scheduled for next week at EclipseCon, the ad competition is heating up. As you walk around our Toronto office these days, it is not uncommon to see motivational desktop wallpapers like this one. :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

PowerSQL to the Developers, FrEDCon2008
Before Eclipse was called Eclipse, names that were considered included 'eBAF' (eBusiness Application Framework) and 'FrED'. I don't remember what 'ED' stood for anymore, but I am pretty sure that 'Fr' stood for Framework.

Have you booked your flight to eBAF2008 yet? :)

A Powerful Name
The new Eclipse-based product that I have been leading since I joined Embarcadero is set to be released the week of March 17 at EclipseCon2008. The beta was made available today.
PowerSQL is the name.

The Pert Plus Phenomenon
My favorite invention of the last 100 years is, by far, shampoo-and-conditioner 2-in-1. Forget the microwave. Forget the crantini.

PowerSQL follows the lead from Pert Plus. You will be able to do cross-platform database development (Oracle, DB2 LUW, Sybase, MS SQL, Generic JDBC) all in one IDE.

Off the Cutting Room Floor

My team of developers ventured in the area of marketing recently and attempted to come up with ads for PowerSQL. The production value is very high.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Romanian Idol

In the world, and particularly in North America, we have a shortage of superstars. More specifically, we are facing the worst shortage of idols in the history of humanity. There are all those great songs being written, and there is no one to sing them.

Shows like American/Canadian/Indian/Cambodian/... Idol produce one new idol every year. That's not nearly enough, but it's better than nothing I suppose.

As I head to my adopted home city of Iaşi this Sunday, I am looking forward to four weeks of Megastar (the Romanian version of Idol), project management and Eclipse speaking engagements.

On February 23, Embarcadero is hosting a conference at the World Trade Center, where I will be presenting an introduction to Eclipse and plug-in development, followed by the European premiere of the new Eclipse-based database IDE we have been working on for the past few months.

It should be a fun event. Iaşi is the home to 8 universities, so we are expecting a decent turnout of students wanting to learn about Eclipse and databases on a Saturday afternoon.

Romanian bloggers are all over this event. If you wish to read about it in Romanian, here are a few links:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Bucket List

Here are a few random entries on my bucket list:

#54: Lunch with Paula Abdul
I would like to try to figure out what exactly is wrong with her and possibly counsel her.

#8: An elephant ride through the streets of India

#23: Co-invent with Chris Aniszczyk something cooler than Gamma and Beck's JUnit
The invention has to be done on a plane because apparently that's where JUnit was invented.

#39: Appear as a mystery guest on a webinar
Looks like I will be able to check this item off my list this Tuesday.

I will be joining Chris and Brian on their upcoming Plug-in Development webinar.

I agreed to join the webinar based on two conditions:
1. I can interject with humorous/hilarious comments any time I want.
2. I demand Evian water in my dressing room.

During the first half of the webinar, as Brian and Chris go through their presentation slides, I will be answering questions submitted by the audience in real time. Just so you know, I worked on PDE for a thousand years, so I defy anyone to ask a question I can't answer ;)

There will be a lively Q&A at the end where you can expect more hilarious/humorous comments.

It should be a good time. So if you are not watching "The View" at that time of day, join us!