Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Galileo...

And so, the big day is here. I'd like to say a big "thank you" to the members of the Model Development Tools (MDT) development team that made this release possible. This past release cycle has been an eventful one, with committers and components both coming and going. I'm proud of what we accomplished as a team (given the challenges we faced) and especially of the fact that MDT is listed as the third most popular project on the Eclipse Downloads page, behind PDT and Web Tools. A true testament to the value that modeling tools bring to the Eclipse ecosystem!

So, what's new in this release of MDT? Four of the now nine components in MDT released today as part of Galileo. OCL 1.3 saw the addition of finer-grained control over debug tracing, support for big numbers, and an extensible type checking mechanism. UML2 3.0 subscribed to the EMF ultra-slim diet, migrated to the latest released version of the UML specification (2.2), and made some extensibility enhancements in the area of profiles. UML2 Tools 0.9 includes enhanced support for working with profiles and stereotypes, vastly improved look and feel, provisional support for sequence and timing diagrams, and (at long last!) the ability to specify which elements are included (synchronized) when creating a class diagram. Finally, XSD 2.5 added support for using an ecore:nsURI attribute on a schema element to specify the namespace URI for a schema without a target namespace.

But of course, that's not the whole story behind what took place this past year. Two components (EODM and OCL Tools) were terminated and two new ones were created (Papyrus and MST). We also received a number of project proposals, some of which may yet see the light of day. We were sad to see the departure of some of our past contributors (most notably, committer emeritus Christian Damus, former lead of the OCL component) but heartily welcomed the many new ones that arrived! If change is an indication of healthy progress (and I believe it is) I'm happy to say that the MDT mini-ecosystem is alive and well. Here's to a another successful release and the changes that the future is sure to bring!

Friday, June 19, 2009

On Renaming Eclipse...

I was reminded yet again this week, by a self-proclaimed analyst, that Eclipse is dead. I sure hope that's true. I mean, I'd like to think that what we have come to know Eclipse to be dies every day and becomes something different (and better!) the next day. That's the nature of continuous innovation. Otherwise, what we're stuck with is the status quo, and that's not going to get anyone much of anywhere.

I was reading an entry in Chris Guillebeau's blog the other day, and it dawned on me why Eclipse is at risk of missing the next wave of innovation - it no longer has a well-defined enemy. Remember that classic Weird Al song? "I know Darth Vader's really got you annoyed, but remember if you kill him then you'll be unemployed". The battle with that eternal yellow sphere was won some time ago, and it seems unlikely that the other "evil empire" will ever amass an open source ecosystem quite as impressive as the one Eclipse has. So what's left that's worth fighting for? United we stand, divided we focus on squeezing every last possible incremental improvement out of our existing "value added" products.

But fear not, all is not lost! The Empire is striking back, albeit under a different guise. Perhaps Eclipse should be renamed to properly reflect what our new war cry ought to be. How about "Dissonance"? Then again, they say that if you can't beat 'em, you might as well join 'em. This time 'round I'm thinking that's not such a bad idea... and I'm happy to see that efforts have already begun in that direction. Yeah, come to think of it, maybe "Resonance" is a better name, especially given who discovered the phenomenon and the milestone that Eclipse is about to to achieve next week. ;)

Monday, June 8, 2009

On Cadences...

The Weekend to End Breast Cancer. It ain't just for ladies anymore (or at least is shouldn't be). I was one of a handful of men among over a thousand women that walked 60 kilometers this past weekend and raised over two million dollars for cancer research in the process. I was humbled by the many examples of courage and hope that I witnessed. There was a man who has done the walk 30 times and who, last year (or so I am told), wheeled his deceased wife's empty wheelchair for two days. There was a cancer survivor who pushed her walker faster than many of us could walk unaided. There were women in very late stages of pregnancy, one of whom was having contractions but refused to see her midwife to deliver her baby until she had finished walking for the day. There were several who carried empty walking shoes once worn by women whose journey has come prematurely to an end.

I want to thank the four women, one of them a cancer survivor, who were gracious enough to allow me to walk with them on the second day. One of the most powerful moments, for me, occurred less than five kilometers from the finish line when the route diverged from the sidewalk onto a path of crushed gravel. We had been walking nearly the whole day together, but only just then noticed that our cadences were perfectly in sync. It was a true testament to what shared vision is all about. Like all of the other participants, we were there for similar goals, but there's no doubt in my mind that what we were able to accomplish together was more than any of us could have done on our own. We were among the first forty or so to finish, and I'll not forget the feeling any time soon.

Friday, June 5, 2009

On the Verge...

Speaking of action (and the need for doing more walking and less talking), I now stand at the precipice before the Big Weekend. Thanks to all of the family, friends, and colleagues that have generously donated, I have qualified to participate in The Weekend to End Breast Cancer, which starts tomorrow. I've walked nearly 300 kilometers over the past ten weeks in preparation for this journey, and the weather forecast looks promising, so I'm looking forward to a great weekend. Of course, it's not too late to show your support, so if you want to make a last-minute donation, please see my personal page. For those that are interested, you can follow my updates over the next two days on Twitter. See you on the other side!

Monday, June 1, 2009

On the Letter W...

Today's entry is brought to you by the letter W. What is it with the letter W, anyway? Many of the major innovations in this information age of ours seem to begin with that letter. Windows, World Wide Web, Wiki, Wii, and now Wave. All I can say is wow.

I've been thinking a lot about innovation lately (on my walks), and after reading Doug's and Dave's blog entries I feel compelled to comment. I don't think the distinction between successful and unsuccessful innovations comes down to a question of propriety; indeed it seems inevitable that all software will be open source before too long. Instead, I think it's a matter of shared vision. There's a big difference between a diverse collection of participants with similar goals and a team of collaborators (whom need not work for the same employer) with a shared vision, especially if/when that vision is compelling enough to be contagious.

The team that originally brought us Eclipse had such a shared vision, and it seems that the team developing Wave does, too. Of course, it's harder to achieve mindshare across geographical, cultural, and organizational boundaries; interestingly, these are the very challenges that Wave appears to be taking a huge step toward helping us overcome. Yes, Ed, the time is nigh for taking action. Hang on, because it's going to be a heck of a ride!