Thursday, June 29, 2006

News from ApacheCon 2006 Europe

This week I attend the ApacheCon Europe in Dublin. Oh boy, what a difference with last year in San Diego at ApacheCon US! Not only is Dublin the opposite of San Diego in many ways, but the visibility and acceptance of OSGi technology by the Apache crowd makes a world of difference. There were several people that were complimenting OSGi technology so much that I’d to blush; some even told me they regularly read this blog!

I primarily attended ApacheCon to give a tutorial. This was an adapted version of the Eclipse tutorial. I had tried to replace Equinox with Apache Felix in this tutorial but had to unfortunately give up late Saturday afternoon because the Declarative Services did not work yet on Felix. When I realized this (again) on Friday, I had tried to port the Eclipse Declarative Services implementation to Felix. Initially this looked very simple; there was a small dependency that was easy to get rid of. Unfortunately, after installing it failed to initialize my component. At that time it had become Saturday afternoon and I had to revert to Equinox or spent yet another Sunday away from the family. However, yesterday evening Richard Hall and I sat together and fixed it. So now Felix can soon use the declarative services from Equinox. Isn’t OSGi technology wonderful?

The tutorial went very well, though 3 hours is very short. Especially because I’d like to tell too much about the background. The big surprise, however, was yesterday. The whole afternoon in the Leinster room was dedicated to OSGi subjects. First Richard gave an excellent, albeit speedy, overview of OSGi, JSR 277, JSR 291, and JSR 294. Man, that guy can speak fast! The next subject was a panel about OSGi. Geir Magnusson (Apache’s Jakarta project chair) was the moderator and on the panel you could find Tim Ellison (IBM, Apache Harmony), Richard Hall (Apache Felix), Enrique Rodriguez (Apache Directory server), Jason van Zyl (Maven 2), and me. After having to answer the customary grilling about licensing, patents, and the possibility to contribute to the spec (yes, we are working on all those issues) we had an interesting discussion.

A major subject is of course how to get Apache projects to adopt OSGi technology. The Apache Foundation does not have a technology roadmap. Technology is developed bottom up and projects are completely free to choose their own technology. To get OSGi adopted by Apache it is therefore necessary to convince each project of its merits. A key strategy to get Apache to use OSGi seems to be the Maven route. Maven is a build tool that more and more projects start to use. The Apache Felix project is using Maven. A couple of weeks ago I had helped Richard to update the OSGi plugin for Maven so that it was easier to use. During the panel this plugin seems a route into Maven. The OSGi headers are non-intrusive. A JAR can be made in such a way that it runs on the Classpath as well as a bundle in an OSGi framework. Maybe this plugin should become part of Maven so that the appropriate headers become part of all Apache JARs. Should be investigated!

The last session was from Marcel Offermans (luminis) about OSGi and best practices. Marcel is an active committer on the Apache Felix project. luminis has adopted OSGi technology 4 years ago and has lots of experience at different customers. This experience showed in the slides. I loved his slides that showed an overview of how to document package dependencies and service dependencies. The service dependencies were based on my triangle/sphere model. We really need a graphic tool that visualizes these dependencies based on a set of JARs or metadata. Where are the students that can create all these goodies?

This afternoon I will fly back home but I already feel very happy about this conference. What a difference with JavaOne and even ApacheCon in San Diego! Most people now have a basic idea what OSGi is and several Apache projects are using it. This makes evangelizing OSGi technology a lot more fun!

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