The theme of the final session of EclipseCon 2006 on Thursday was the upcoming Callisto simultaneous release. (Note: all the previous draft reports have been edited and updated. --Ed)
Figure 1. The new Callisto logo, by Walter Myers. It's the artist's rendition of a Jovian eclipse as seen from the surface of its moon, Callisto. Cue the music from "2001: A Space Odyssey".
Mike Milinkovich presided over the session. The project leads for all the Eclipse top level projects were on stage and took pre-arranged questions from Mike.
Figure 2. (from left to right): Tim Wagner (WTP), John Duimovich (Tools), Paul Clenahan (BIRT), Oisin Hurley (STP), Mike Milinkovich (standing), John Graham (DTP), Doug Graff (DSDP), Kevin Haaland (Platform), Sri Doddapaneni (TPTP), Bjorn Freeman-Benson
Mike: How did Callisto come about? Kevin Haaland: Started in August 2005, it was just a crazy idea to release everything on the same day.
What is Callisto? Sri Doddapaneni: Callisto IS: Download everything in one go. Callisto is NOT: Put everything together and have a seamless user experience (though there's some disagreement on that).
How is Callisto impacting how your project works? John Graham: Interestingly, the idea came in just as we were doing our project planning. Being on a common platform and working together has huge advantages. It gives us a broader perspective - we can learn from other projects a bit of the rhythm of the "Eclipse Way".
What is your project doing to create a culture of quality? Tim Wagner: Really focusing more on adopters of our platform. It's more than the end user experience, it's the API set as a whole. One issue: How can we best do testing both as a standalone unit and its new configuration with the other projects? Paul Clenahan: We're getting our developers to engage more with the community, and understand how they're using it. We're doing more with automated testing, and accountability if builds break. We don't let bugzilla entries sit around in no man's land.
How does the rapid growth of Eclipse create opportunities and/or challenges for your project? Sri Doddapaneni: We're definitely seeing more TPTP bug reports coming in, and that contributes to the quality. With all these new projects now there's opportunity for combining, for example we're integrating some with WTP and BIRT. Paul Clenahan: There's a great opportunity to leverage the other projects (and other projects can use BIRT). It's a challenge to keep up to speed on it all though.
What do you think are the best practices around ensuring openness and transparency in an Eclipse project? John Duimovich: We started with no project so we had to make them up. The important thing is to make all your communications transparent to the community. For example if a new company comes in and the developers are down the hall with each other, they need to learn to post all their important conversations and decisions in public. This takes time, of course. Originally, 50% of the time of the Platform developers was budgeted for developer relations (newsgroup support and so forth, this is now down to 30%).
Any special memories/events for your project at EclipseCon? Kevin Haaland: Just watching people communicating and engaging with each other.
What are you doing to enable adoption of your platform? Tim Wagner: We're taking a more aggressive stance to solicit and get info from adopters. Also we're working on helping people migrate from one version to another. On the one hand, we don't want to declare APIs prematurely, but on the other, we don't want to hose the people who are using the experimental APIs.
What other project could you be better utilizing, and what can the other project do to "close the deal"? Oisin Hurley: We're communicating a lot with WTP. We'd like to see the WTP build broken up some more so we could pick and choose what to use.
Describe the processes around incubation that have been put in place over the past year. Bjorn Freeman-Benson: Before projects become official we want to help them build communities and quality code. There's been a slow raising of the bar over time. Mike: What's the exit criteria from incubation? Bjorn: An active user community, active adopter/plug-in community, and an active developer *multi-organization* (diverse) community working in an open and transparent way.
How is the incubation process working for your projects? John Graham: It's working great, and we're learning a lot from the other folks we're working with. Doug Graff: Learning a lot. The due diligence process is tough though. Mike: All committers need to read and understand the committer guidelines.
Figure 3. Tim Wagner is often the man in the hot seat.
What are some of the challenges you face when building a community around a new project? Tim Wagner: WTP was an existing project when I joined but we're incubating some new sub-projects. There's a chicken and egg problem: you can't grow a community without a release. You've got to get code out and demonstrate responsiveness. Some early phases include developing code, coming to conferences, and learning from other projects. We provide the air-cover for incubating projects to help new projects to go to the next level. Doug Gaff: There's a lot of pent-up demand for our project. Getting from ideas to code is a big challenge - everybody is understaffed. Getting people to sign up for real work is a challenge. There's also a strategic/commoditization challenge. Finding that line where people are comfortable with saying this is commodity and this isn't, is a challenge depending on the company. Engineers are tired of re-inventing things but the parent companies are reluctant (especially the sales guys). Sales says 'We can sell that', Marketing says: 'What do we get in return' and Developers say 'That sounds great'.
Next the annual EclipseCon metrics were announced:
Countries represented: 36
Different companies represented: 469!
MBs of PDF files: 128
Lbs. of shrimp devoured: 155
Website hits: 255,208
Eclipsezilla users: 917
Registered Christmas Day: 4
Simultaneous wireless users: 570
Trees saved by USB keys: 35
#hits from EclipseCon wireless: 24,490
Calories of cookies: 22,500,000
Gallons of coffee: 643
Attendees: 1,407! Sellout for the 2nd year in a row.
Take-away quotes: "Incubation is a state of mind, not a location." -- Tim Wagner "Mike, you hang out with a lot of geeks." -- Mike Milinkovich's brother (after visiting the conference)