Archive for the 'apache' Category

CouchCamp 2010

I spent a few days last week at CouchCamp, the first mass in-person gathering of the community around CouchDB. There were around 80 people from all over the world, which is pretty good turnout. The conference was largely in unconference format although there were some invited speakers, including myself.

I think it says a lot about the CouchDB community that they invited both Josh Berkus and Selena Deckelmann from Postgres to be speakers. The “NoSQL” space has become quite combative recently, so it is great to see that the CouchDB has connections to the Postgres community, and respect for the history and lessons that the Postgres folks have learned over the year. Josh’s talk on not reinventing the wheel was well received, and his discussion of Joins vs Mapreduce took me back to my days as a graduate student in databases. His talk made a great lead in for Selena’s talk on the nitty gritty details of MultiVersion Concurrency Control

There were lots of good discussions on issues related to security and CouchApps, but the discussion that got my attention the most was Max Ogden’s discussion on the work that he is doing to open up access to government data, particularly around the use of location information. He’s been using GeoCouch as the platform for this work. In the past I’ve written about the importance of a good platform for location apps, particularly in the context of GeoDjango. GeoCouch looks to be a very nice platform for location based applications. This is a very nice plus for the CouchDB community.

These days, it’s impossible to be at a conference that involves Javascript and not hear some buzz about Node.js. As expected, there was quite a bit of it, but it was interesting to talk to people about what they are doing with Node. Everything that I heard reinforces my gut feel that Node.js is going to be important.

I was one of the mentors for the CouchDB project when it came to the Apache Software Foundation, and I was asked to speak about community. The CouchDB community has accomplished a lot in the last few years, and is doing really well. I prepared a slide deck, but didn’t project it because my talk was the last talk of the conference, and we wanted to do it in the outside amphitheater. I also wanted to tune some of the sections of the talk to include things that I observed or was asked about during the conference. The biggest reason that I prepared slides was to show excerpts of Noah Slater’s CouchDB 1.0 retrospective e-mail. A lot of what I think about community is summarized well in Noah’s message, and the note summarizes the state of the community better than I could have done it myself. I hope that we’ll be hearing more testimonials like Noah’s in the years to come.

ApacheCon US 2009

[This post is late because I came down with the flu right after I got back from ApacheCon. I guess next year I will get a flu shot]


This year I was unable to attend all of the conference due to some scheduling problems, so I can’t give an in depth report on talks. I used some of the time that I might normally have spent in talks to catch up with people that I haven’t seen in a while. I was able to attend a good number of the talks in the Hadoop track. The track was larger than last year’s track (due in part to a larger room), but I felt that last year’s track was stronger. It might also be that I’ve become a bit more familiar with Hadoop, making it harder to make a bing impression. It’s definitely the case that there was a lot of interest in Hadoop, and I expect that to continue.

ApacheCon US 2009

Unfortunately, I missed the NoSQL meetup during the Apache BarCamp. I think that there could/should have been an entire NoSQL track, especially given the fact that Cassandra and CouchDB are both frequently mentioned NoSQL technologies, and both are housed at Apache.

One talk that surprised me was Ross Gardler’s talk Teaching and Learning about Open Development, originally I didn’t think that I would have time to stay for that talk slot, but a rearrangement of my return flight loosened my schedule so that I could stick around. Ross is the chairman of the newly created Community Development PMC at Apache. This is a new effort aimed at improving the experience of contributors and new committers. Some of the people on the PMC have been heavily involved in the ASF’s Google Summer of Code outreach, and will be bringing their experiences over with them. It seems like this PMC will also be a good place for people concerned about diversity issues to dig in and help in a concrete fashion.


This year’s ApacheCon’s have been a celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the founding of the Apache Software Foundation. At Oakland, there was a cake, a proclamation from the Mayor of Oakland, and (I didn’t get to see this) a letter of congratulations from the Governor of California. Rather than try and describe the festivities in prose, I’ll leave you with some photos:

ApacheCon US 2009
ApacheCon US 2009
ApacheCon US 2009
ApacheCon US 2009
ApacheCon US 2009

The entire set of photos is up on Flickr.

10 Years of Apache


November is just around the corner, which means that once again it’s time for ApacheCon US. This year is a special year for the Apache Software Foundation – its 10 year anniversary. Since I got involved with Apache just a few months after the foundation was created, it is also my 10 year anniversary of being involved in open source software.

This year I am going to be speaking twice. On Wednesday I’ll be speaking on the Apache Pioneers Panel, and on Thursday I’ll be giving a talk titled How 10 years of Apache has changed my life. I owe a huge professional debt to the ASF and its members and committers, so in my talk I’ll be interweaving important events in the life of the foundation with my own personal experiences and lessons learned.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to be there for all of the conference this year – I’ll be arriving Tuesday afternoon and flying out on Thursday evening. If you want to meet up, I’m in the ApacheCon Crowdvine, and I’ll be around with camera in hand (and on the LumaLoop).

Sun Folks on the loose: David Van Couvering

David Van Couvering is another Sun person who is looking for a new adventure after last week’s layoffs.

I first met David at ApacheCon, several years before I came to Sun. At the time he was working on JavaDB, also known as Apache Derby. Lots of projects out there include an embedded version of Derby, so if you are working on one of those, here’s your chance to hire one of the authors of that code. One thing that always impressed me about the Derby community is how the people from Sun and IBM were able to work so well together. More recently, he’s been the architect for the database functionality in the NetBeans IDE.

David is looking for a hands-on architect/team lead role. His background is mostly server-side Java technology, with a focus on distributed services and databases. If you are looking for that skill set, and need someone who has real experience with open source software development then you ought to be talking to David. In addition to his profile on LinkedIn, you can see how effectively he’s used his blog to describe the work that he’s been doing recently.

Sun’s Loss, Your Gain?

Today was a particularly black day – a number of large technology companies had layoffs today. Sun was no exception, kicking off layoffs that were promised back in November. As a result some very talented people are now looking for jobs. Following Tim Bray’s example, I’d also like to highlight folks that are too good to stay on the job market for long.

Dave Johnson

Dave has been around the social software space for a long time. I’d been following his work on Roller way before he ever got hired by Sun, and I was happy when Roller ended up coming to Apache. Apache Roller (which powers all of Sun’s blogs, among other things) ought to be resume enough for Dave. Not only is Roller good enough to take the load of all of Sun’s blogs, Dave also helped grow the community for Roller to the point where it could graduate from the Apache Incubator. But if Roller isn’t enough, he’s also been working with Open Social and the Shindig project at the Apache Incubator, and has been cooking up some interesting stuff over at Project SocialSite.

I know first hand that blog posts can help people find jobs, so I hope that a little extra blog juice will speed Dave on his way to his next adventure. If you’re looking for work, and we’ve worked together, I’d be happy to put up a post for you, too.

CouchDB graduates

Congratulations to the Apache CouchDB project, which has graduated from the Apache Incubator and become a top level project of the Apache Software Foundation.

Olio – a web 2.0 benchmark?

So there’s a new project in the Apache Incubator called Olio. It’s a “toolkit that can be used to evaluate the suitability, functionality and performance of web technologies”. There are already implementations in Java, PHP, and Ruby on Rails. Here are some additional versions that I would like to see:

  • Django (Python)
  • Turbogears (Python)
  • Lift (Scala)
  • Seaside (Smalltalk)
  • Erlang
  • Clojure
  • Haskell
  • Common Lisp

If I’ve left out your favorite language, framework, feel free to add it in the comments. Or better yet, show up to the project with an implementation. Wide Finder this ain’t, but the results could still be pretty interesting.

ApacheCon US 2008

ApacheCon US has come and gone for 2008, and here’s the roundup.


I’ve known Simon Phipps since we worked together at IBM in the late 1990′s. He’s always been great at finding and articulating trends in the computer industry, and I had read his post on the Adoption Led market. I expected him to talk about just that one issue, but it turned out that he had five points to make. Besides the adoption led characterization of open source, he talked about substitutability as preferable to interoperability, with a corollary of standards body reform. He also made the point that effective marketing messages for open source will be either first or second derivatives of freedom. I’m still doing some pondering on some of these.

Kevin Crowston from Syracuse University has been coming to ApacheCons for five years now, and I was very interested in his talk summarizing some of the things that he and his students have learned. I had a very extended in person conversation with Kevin, and it’s hard for me to remember what content came from where. Kevin and his students have really become a part of the ApacheCon community – I always look forward to talking to them and seeing what they are finding interesting. As I’ve written in other posts, the social/cultural/organizational lessons of open source development will likely turn out to be more enduring than much of the actual software.

ApacheCon US 2008

It’s fashionable for some company to be controlling the ASF. Every year it is a different company. Over the years this honor has been held by IBM, Google, and Joost. This year, I would say that the honor belongs to Yahoo. There was an entire track dedicated to Hadoop, which originated with Yahoo. Many of the Hadoop sessions were jam packed, so Hadoop contributed substantially to the attendance at ApacheCon this year. I predict that nextt year’s Hadoop Camp will be double or even triple the size of this years’ track. The talk that I got the most out of was Dhruba Borthakur’s description of the way that they use Hadoop at Facebook.

The conference

I think that I’ve only missed a single US ApacheCon (I’ve never made it to an EU ApacheCon) since 2000. This year, there were some changes to the conference structure. In addition to the Hadoop Camp track, there was also a track for OFBiz. I didn’t attend any of the talks, but from talking to people, it seems that the OFBiz track also contributed heavily to the attendance. ApacheCon’s program is determined pretty much by who submits and that can lead to a very haphazard program. I think that the success of two well planned coherent tracks is something that should influence the direction of the conference. The conference needs whole or half day tracks which are technically coherent and which accommodate the skill levels of the various Apache user bases.

ApacheCon US 2008

Another experiment was the decision to run a BarCamp during the second day of the Hackathon. I think that this was very successful. We had a very good discussion on git versus subversion, a topic that is generating a lot of interested within the foundation. There was a session on dynamic languages, which wasn’t very successful because the organizer ran through a long slide deck rather than engaging the participants. I ran a session on digital photography, and the people who participated seemed to get some value out of it. I would love to see a BarCamp, Open Space, or similar track be included in the main conference, rather than being limited to just the Hackathon.

ApacheCon US 2008

The lightning talk session is always well attended. The ApacheCon lightning talks are decidedly biased towards the light hearted (like Aaron Farr’s hilarious portrayal of Apache world domination), in contrast to the PyCon lightning talks, which tend to be more serious. I think that the Python community is gettting more bang for the buck when it comes to the lightning talks. There’s much more dissemination of information that might be hard to get accepted as a conference talk, either because it’s a tidbit, or it’s very new work, for example. The demand is so great that there are multiple days of lightning talks – a sign that something is working really well.

There were two other unusual features of ApacheCon this year. The first was that it took place during this year’s historic U.S. election. I’ve never watched election returns much, and never with a group. The whole experience of sitting in the Sheraton bar/lobby and watching the events on a huge TV screen is one of those memories of a lifetime.

ApacheCon US 2008

The other unusual happening took place at the end of the lightning talks, where a few of the sponsors got together and organized a “death of proprietary software parade”, complete with brass band and a police motorcycle escort as we marched through a few New Orleans streets. The parade’s final destination was a local club for the ensuing “celebration”.

I really love ApacheCon, but it was impossible for me to ignore the difference between this year’s ApacheCon and PyCon. At over 1000 people, PyCon was easily twice the size of ApacheCon, and the level of energy just seemed higher at PyCon. I also continue to be impressed by the PyCon sprints, which are just blowing things off the map in terms of attendance, productivity, and ability to engage completely new people in the various Python projects. From talking to a number of people on the ASF ConCom, I know that some changes are in the works, and I am hopeful that next year’s ApacheCon will be revitalized and energized.


I talked with people more about photography this time than any other conference that I’ve been too. Several people told me that my previous photo coverage had made it possible for them to “attend” ApacheCon even though they didn’t physically attend. It’s gratifying to feel that the picture making is doing some good beyond indulging my need for an artistic release. Beyond the aforementioned BarCamp, I had a number of gear related discussions with people, and on the basis of those, you’ll probably be seeing some gear postings from me in the next little while.

ApacheCon US 2008

Shane Curcuru, the conference lead made it a point to give me a spare key to very nice suite that the hotel gave him. It was up on the 48th floor, and you could get a pretty decent view of New Orleans, which made it pretty hard to turn that offer down. I took two trips up there and shot a bunch of frames to turn into panoramas. That was a relatively new experience, and I didn’t pack a tripod, so the result is somewhat less than optimal, but it was fun nonetheless.

As usual there is a set of photos for the conference on Flickr.


ApacheCon US 2008

I had a pretty smooth travel experience – the “worst” part was missing a ferry because of a delayed leg. This was my first time to New Orleans, so I’m not sure how to judge it. All the meals that I had were fantastic, right down the the Jambalaya that I got from one of the airport restaurants. I’ve been messing around with BrightKite on my last few trips, wondering if it would really amount to much. Shortly after touching down in Denver on the way home, I got a phone call, and several directed Tweets. That seems like some thing useful, so I’m probably going to keep playing with it. I don’t have any more trips scheduled for the rest of 2008, so that experiment will have to pick up sometime next year.

Next year ApacheCon is in Oakland, where we’ll be celebrating the 10th birthday of the ASF. That’s one birthday party that I am really looking forward to.

ApacheCon US is next week

Next week I’ll be at ApacheCon US in New Orleans. I’m not officially on the program, but I am planning to run a dynamic languages session during the BarCamp on Tuesday.

Stefano is looking for a job

My good friend Stefano Mazzocchi is looking for a job. If you are looking for a good person for your organization, you should definitely take a look before he’s taken.