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EclipseCon Day 1 in review

Conference 2009

Most of the news this week is coming out via the #eclipsecon twitter search tag; and if you're using an application like TweetDeck you can see the updates to the search occurring as they happen. Tweets aren't as permanent as blog entries though, so here's a roundup of what's happening.

Keynote address "The Social Mind: Designing like Groups Matter", given by Jeff Atwood (of Coding Horror fame) and Clay Shirky (author of the upcoming Here Comes Everybody book), looked at the social aspects of websites like Slashdot, YouTube and Stack Overflow, along with what worked and didn't. This drove a number of features that Stack Overflow has, like voting, tagging and commenting (with editing reserved for more reputable users). There were four 'scary ideas' put forward for interaction with Stack Overflow:

  • Lower the bar for participation with no registration required
    • Tragedy of the commons means that you may get higher signal-to-noise
    • Stupid comments on YouTube exceed 48,000 on a single video - no-one will read that much
    • Some nuggets of note - e.g. Optical effects of Special Relativity has 150 well thought out/formatted comments
    • Stack Overflow's 'stupid comment' filter trained on YouTube
    • Most updates to Wikipedia examples tail off with only a single update by a single user - c.f. Asphalt has a few frequent updaters and many single updaters
  • Trusting (some of) your users
    • The more worthwhile someone believes a user to be, the better they may be able to police the actions of others
    • The only resource that scales with the number of users is the number of users, so have self-policing sites
  • Life is the world's biggest MMORPG
    • And you don't get to respawn..
  • Bad stuff happens
    • Revision history and reversion means that it can be quicker to revert damage than cause the damage in the first place

E4 As with previous years, there's a lot of E4 news here. The plan is to get a release out for the Eclipse 2010 release as Eclipse 4.0, although the Eclipse 3.x stream will continue in parallel. Whereas in previous years there were discussions like 'wouldn't it be cool if', we're now in a situation where there's working (albeit prototype) code demonstrating declarative UIs (in a variety of XAML type formats). There's definitely advantages of a declarative UI, not the least of which is that styling via CSS allows for a much more flexible theming (or 'skinnable') aspect. I'm pretty sure that no-one has used the term 'skinnable' for the last four or five years - when app writers focussed more on could you redefine the UI rather than the usability of that UI - but nevertheless, it does lower the barrier for amending/moving the UI itself. Think of it as HTML for applications.

Sun and GlassFish This week, Sun announced the GlassFish Tools Bundle for Eclipse, which is in fact a fresh Eclipse install with a bunch of bundles installed (although it is possible to install the adaptor into an existing Java EE Eclipse install). They were also late-comers to the Gold sponsor category for EclipseCon, although sources have suggested this was more to do with bureaucracy within Sun rather than a late decision to attend. GlassFish v3 Prelude, based on OSGi, was also demonstrated.

OSGi As with previous years, EclipseCon is co-sited with OSGi DevCon, and there's several talks on the topic. However, unlike previous years (where talks were more focussed on the basics of what OSGi is), this year the focus is more on detailed patterns and use cases. The word from Eclipse is definitely runtime technology and a lot of developers here seem to get it. In addition, the OSGi 4.2 public draft is now available for comments.

That's just an overview of the types of talk I attended, but as you can see from the associated Twitter comments, there's a lot going on. And one of the main reasons for attending EclipseCon (rather than just reading blog posts about it) is to catch up with those you've been interacting with over the last year, or if it's your first time, to put a face (or a tie) behind the name. I couldn't make it last year, but it's great to catch up with those that were here from previous years.

Stay tuned for further EclipseCon news ...