Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Register for EclipseCon 2008, Get a Free Eclipse WTP Book

EclipseCon 2008EclipseCon 2008, the Eclipse Foundation's annual conference, is being held March 17-20, in Santa Clara, CA.

Register early and as a bonus the first 100 people to register will receive a free copy of my book Eclipse Web Tools Platform.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Up Next, Free Software and Open Source Symposium

Free Software and Open Source Symposium
I meant to get this post out much earlier than the night before the event but I think it will still be useful as all of the symposium content is recorded and available online for free from the FSOSS site. (You can check out last year's talks now, including my presentation about Ajax toolkits.)

Up next for me is the Free Software and Open Source Symposium (FSOSS) at Seneca College running from Oct. 26-27. This will be my third year at this event and the first year the event will span two days. This is another event I've found to have very high quality presentations and a lot of good people from various backgrounds. In fact FSOSS is sponsored by, among others, Mozilla, BMO Bank of Montreal, Novell, Seneca College, and Apple.

Here's my agenda for this two day event:

9-10 Usability Anonymous: A 12 Step Program for Better User Experiences
I've really gotten into user experience and how I can improve it in my products. I'm interested to see what David and Jay's 12 step program is after reading book like The Inmates Are Running the Asylum and User Interface Design for Programmers.

10-11 Facebook's Thrift: Scalable Cross-Language Development
This is a talk about some of the technology that supports the Facebook platform. I really don't know anything about Facebook from a technical perspective and this is the first opportunity I've had to hear directly from the dev team.

11-12 Product and User Experience Design in Open Communities
Amazingly I've never seen Mike present. Although I'm interested in the topic I'm going to his talk to see if he's as funny in front of a room of people as he is in person. (My bet's on yes.)

1-2 Welcome To The Jungle: A Field Guide To Enterprise Computing
Read the abstract for this talk. It just seems like it's going to be fun.

2-3 Open Commercial Development
This is the talk I'm giving with Jeff Liu. Our talks the last couple years have been on Open technologies (Eclipse WTP and Ajax toolkits) so this is a bit of a change for us.

3-4 Keynote: Applying Open Source Concepts to Non-software Industries

9-10 Accessible Rich Internet Applications
This is real concern as RIAs break many of the existing solutions for accessibility. I'm currently building an RIA so I think this will be a useful talk.

10-11 Shifting the Focus: OpenOffice.org 3.0
IBM recently announced that it will collaborate on OpenOffice. Think I'll check out what's new and upcoming.

11-12 Open Source in the Telephony Market
Asterisk is pretty cool. My brother-in-law uses it to power the telephone system for his small business (RentMagic) and I've been meaning to set up a test box for a while to play with this Open Source telephony application.

1-2 Community as A Core Competency: Microsoft and Open Source
Although I've been disapointed by other MS talks at Open Source conferences this one again looks interesting and so I'm holding out hope.

2-3 A Linux Desktop on Every PC
Marcel is a great speaker. (I've seen him twice at this event.) I'm looking forward to what I'm sure will be an energetic talk.

3-4 Keynote: Open Source Economics: Stakeholder Perspectives

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Another Error Message for the Hall of Fame

I was trying to create a DVD with InterVideo WinDVD Creator V2 (which came bundled with my ThinkPad) this weekend when I was presented with an error dialog.

Can not complete authoring process due to some error.This immediately seemed to me like a candidate for the error message Hall of Fame. Not only does this error message contain no useful information but after failing the program seems to remove all clues as to what it had done so I can't even debug the problem myself.

I'd like to think that due to the Open Source process (with committers elected due to their proven technical expertise) that Eclipse is immune from poor error messages. Unfortunately this isn't always true. However Eclipse and other Open Source software does have a great advantage from community review (many eyes). The community is a great help in locating poor error messages.

One error message, which is partially my fault as I let it be propagated through the WSDL validator, was recently identified in a WTP newsgroup posting about the WS-I WSDL validator. The error message in question is:
"WS-I: A problem occurred while running the WS-I WSDL conformance check: org.eclipse.wst.wsi.internal.analyzer.WSIAnalyzerException. The WS-I Test Assertion Document(TAD) was not found or could not be processed. The WSDLAnalyzer was not able to validate the given WSDL file."
I think there are a number of problems with this message.
  1. The message identifies an internal exception. If the exception is one that a user should understand it should probably be part of an API.
  2. The message refers to the WS-I Test Assertion Document (TAD) without any explanation of what this is or why this is affecting the end user. I think a link would be very helpful here.
  3. The message doesn't give the user any suggestions how to resolve the problem.
I've brought this up as I think it's a good reminder to do your best to think like your users when creating error messages. An easy way to do a quick dry run is to simply ask the person sitting next to you (either physically on online) whether they understand the message.

Oh, and in case you're interested, I've opened bug 206845 for the WS-I error message above.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Find Lawrence at Cascon 2007, Oct. 22-25

I'll be presenting and attending Cascon next week (Oct. 22-25) and thought I'd share where I'll be spending my time.

Not familiar with Cascon? Cascon is IBM's annual Centre for Advanced Studies CONference. I've been attending Cascon since 2003 (with the exception of 2005, when I was at OOPSLA) and every year it has had extremely high quality hands-on workshops and presentations covering a range of topics. (I've personally lead hands-on workshops covering XML, Web services, and RIA and Ajax.) And, it's free as in beer! (There is no registration fee.) This is a great opportunity for students to get out, meet some people in industry, and learn about some different technology. But, I digress.

Here's my schedule:

9-5 Hands-on: Introduction to Ajax Technologies
I'll be leading this hands on workshop with Jen Hawkins, Aron Wallaker, and Jeffrey Liu.

5-7 Technology Showcase: Enterprise Portfolio Management
Come take a look at my current project building tools to facilitate Enterprise Portfolio Management.


8:30 Best Paper Awards
I'll be awarding each of the best paper winners with a copy of my book Eclipse Web Tools Platform. (Haven't read it yet? Head on over to Amazon and pick one up. Find me at Cascon and I'll be happy to sign it for you. :) )

10:15-10:45 Paper: Runtime Monitoring of Web Service Conversations

Looks like an interesting paper about ensuring the correct functioning of Web services.

11-1 Technology Showcase: Enterprise Portfolio Management
Missed the Technology Showcase on Monday? It's open for the rest of the conference. I'll again be at the booth on Tuesday during lunch.

1-5 Hands-on: Learn about Adobe Flex

I'll be attending this workshop. I think it should nicely complement the Ajax workshop I'll be presenting on Monday.

10:45-11:15 Paper: An Audit Trail Service to Enhance Privacy Compliance in Federated Identity Management
This is a paper with possible use in Enterprise Portfolio Management.

1-5 Hands-on: Business Process Modeling and Simulation: An SOA Adoption using WebSphere Business Modeler

I don't know enough about BPM and think this should give me a kick start.

Although Cascon will run on Thursday, Wednesday will be my last day as I'm scheduled to speak at the Seneca College Free Software and Open Source Symposium on Thursday. More about that event in my next post.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Eclipse and Apache Team Up for OSSummit Asia Conference

Following on previous goodwill built between the Eclipse and Apache communities the two Open Source foundations have decided to partner for the first time on the OSSummit Asia 2007 conference. As announced to Apache committers via the committers mailing list:
"The Apache Software Foundation and Eclipse Foundation are joining together for the first time at OSSummit ASIA 2007

Combining 2 days of in-depth hands on trainings followed by a 3 day conference featuring over 60 presentations, Birds of a Feather gatherings to engage in throughout each day, interactive keynote panel, and Li Gong Chairman and CEO of Mozilla Online Ltd doing the featured keynote."
This is a great step in acknowledging the growing ties between these two communities that now share interests, code, and committers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Digg Eclipse Articles

Links to Digg, Slashdot and Del.icio.us help in the promotion articles and other Web content. Traditional news sites like The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star (local references) now provide links to these sites from their articles. So where are these links on a site like Eclipse that supports global collaboration on software development? In this case it looks like Eclipse isn't an innovator or early adopter but rather is late to the game. I've opened bug 202856 to add these links to the Eclipse articles. There's a patch there so check it out and voice your opinion in the bug report.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Eclipse WTP Book Released!

I'm very pleased to announce that the first WTP book in the Eclipse Series has been released. Eclipse Web Tools Platform: Developing Java Web Applications by Naci Dai, Lawrence Mandel and Arthur Ryman is now
available from retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Chapters/Indigo.

See my previous post and visit the book's web site for more information including the table of contents and downloadable source code examples (licensed under the EPL).


Thursday, May 17, 2007

What's Baking at the Eclipse Series? The New WTP Book of Course.

Can you smell the new Eclipse Web Tools Platform (WTP) book coming out of the oven? I can. After almost two years of writing, editing, reviewing, writing, editing, reviewing, ... the books are due at the publisher by the end of this week and are scheduled to hit shelves on May 25.

The lowdown:
(for those of you who don't want to read further)
What: The first WTP book in the Eclipse Series covering Java Web application development with WTP
When: On shelves May 25, 2007
Who: By Naci Dai, Lawrence Mandel, and Arthur Ryman

(Use feedback@eclipsewtp.org to get in touch with the authors)


Eclipse Web Tools Platform: Developing Java Web Applications covers the end-to-end development of a Java Web application with WTP. This includes installation of WTP, setting up your workspace and project for individual and team development, architectural principles of Web applications, creating the presentation, data, and persistence tiers, exposing your data with Web services, and testing your application. The book introduces and explores many common Web technologies such as CSS, DTD, HTML, JavaScript, SOAP, UDDI, WSDL, WSIL, XML, XML Schema, and XSLT and Java specific technologies such as CMP, EJB, JDBC, JSP, MDB, and XDoclet. The book also covers extending WTP including creating a new server adapter, adding support for a new language, customizing the WSDL tools, and creating your own URI resolver.

The book was written for WTP 1.5, but is equally applicable for the upcoming WTP 2.0 release. Most of the visible changes to the tools discussed in the book should be easy to identify.

To support the book we've created a web site, http://www.eclipsewtp.org. The web site includes an overview of the book, the table of contents, a package containing all of the example code used in the book (all licensed under the EPL), links to purchase the book, and author bios. We've also set up an e-mail address for your feedback. Send any comments about the book or the web site to feedback@eclipsewtp.org.

If you're anxious to get your hands on the book you can pre-order it today from sites such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters/Indigo.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Book Review: Dealing with Difficult People

For those of us in technical roles, I think too often skill set becomes equated with technical skill set. The fact is non-technical or soft skill sets are beneficial to people in technical roles. Soft skills involve your ability to communicate with others via e-mail, the phone, and instant messaging but also via articles, books, conference presentations and blogs.

The importance of working well with others is amplified in Open Source projects like Eclipse. Eclipse projects tend to be developed by large, geographically dispersed teams. These teams are comprised of people with, among other things, very different backgrounds, cultures, expectations, and priorities. These differences are further highlighted by the fact that the people on the project come from many companies and organizations meaning management structure cannot be used to enforce project decisions.

With that in mind I'd like to take a look at a book I just finished reading by Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner entitled "Dealing with Difficult People: 24 Lessons for Bringing Out the Best in Everyone".

Let's get the details that may prevent you from looking at this book out of the way. The book is very short, weighing in at just under 100 small pages, and can easily be read in a single sitting. (I'm not a quick reader.) And, the book's cheap going for ~$10 on Amazon. Now, on with my review.

As you've likely guessed from the title, the book focuses on dealing with difficult people. These people show up at work but also in all facets of life.

In order to deal with a problem you have to know what you're dealing with. In its coverage of difficult people the book starts with an quick overview of the ten most unwanted behaviours: the Tank, the Sniper, the Know-it-all, the Think-they-know-it-all, the Grenade, the Yes Person, the Maybe Person, the Nothing Person, the No Person, and the Whiner.

With the question of "what" out of the way the book then moves on to the question of "why". Why is this person being difficult? According to the book, the motivation of a difficult person revolves around four intents. Understanding these four intents is key as once you understand the reason someone is being difficult you can work to resolve the problem in order to remedy the difficult behaviour. This part of the book should make it clear that difficult behaviour is a manifestation of another problem and once that problem is understood you can work to make the difficult person a productive member of your team.

Empowered with an understanding of who you're dealing with and what motivates them, you are ready to attack the problem. The book then presents you with a deeper view of each type of behaviour and arms you with tactics to combat each type of difficult person.

While the book focuses on identifying difficult behaviours in others I found a secondary benefit was the ability to look inwards and discover ways in which I can and have been difficult. It's not always easy to solicit negative feedback from peers and I think this book is a good tool for looking at yourself to discover some of your own negative behaviours.

Technical people need soft skills along with technical skills. Soft skills are a key component to the success of Open Source projects like those hosted at Eclipse. "Dealing with Difficult People" is not an in depth tour of the human psyche. It is a quick read that will open your eyes to the way both others and you behave and build upon your soft skills enabling further success in your projects.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Eclipse Reaches out to Apache

As Bjorn and Ward announced on their blog, Eclipse recently extended a sweet invitation to Apache committers to attend EclipseCon. The sweet part of the invitation is that Apache committers can attend the conference for the Eclipse committer price. (If you're an Apache committer simply go to the EclipseCon site and register as a committer.)

As a committer for both Apache and Eclipse I was personally very happy to see Mike Milinkovich's invitation sent to the Apacahe committers mailing list that stated,
"As you may know, a number of Eclipse projects implement tools for Apache projects and in turn, many Apache projects are using Eclipse technology."
This statement shouldn't surprise those working at either Apache or Eclipse but I think it serves as an official recognition of the growing synergy between two of the most prolific open source communities. Although these two communities do differ their interests continue to align through their various projects.

In his invitation Mike also said,
"We really appreciate the support the Apache community has extend to Eclipse and we look forward to building closer relationships."
I couldn't have put it any better. Bravo to the Eclipse foundation for making a real effort to bring these two great communities closer together.