Thursday, October 21, 2010
I was excited to see Apple's announcement about the OS App Store. It even got me thinking..what if I wrap up that nice little piece of software that I wrote last month..I could generate some additional revenue without having to worry about all of the hassles of doing a new commercial product line. Just write the software with some decent docs and deliver it. Neat! Oh, wait a minute..from what Tim Anderson is reporting I can't do that because Eclipse applications aren't going to be allowed on the App Store. In fact, Apple looks to be more or less elbowing Java out the back door and then locking the exit.
I'll admit it..I'm a sucker for Apple -- I worked at a University in high school in 1984 where we had one of the very first Macs -- in fact it was actually a Lisa, converted to a Mac XL. I went to MacWorld in 1991 and was pretty much the last rat off the sinking ship in the late nineties. I actually requested a Mac Laptop as part of a hiring negotiation. And frankly, being a Mac database developer in those days was a pretty good gigue -- there just wasn't a lot of competition and the customers were generally more interested in quality and service over cost. I like good design that works efficiently -- the fact that the Command Key is a lot more accessible than the Windows Ctrl key really matters to me. So I'm one of those guys..and willing to suspend judgement on a lot of things that I'd complain about if any other company did them.
Lately though, I've been thinking that a lot of those traits that are endearing in a scrappy, iconoclastic company can become really obnoxious when that company becomes the dominant innovator. There is still something really admirable about a company that pursues platform quality over everything else, and I think the argument for an integrated software and hardware platform is really convincing. You know, a lot of Android devices are kind of crappy, and I can't imagine having to use a Windows laptop ever again. So Apple, go ahead and do what you do best -- make insanely good platforms for people to do insanely cool things on.
But please, don't tell me what I can or should put on my computer, OK? And definitely never ever ever tell me what kind of software I can and can't write for that computer.
Now, I'm ok with a bit of lock-in for mobile devices. If I want you to help me deliver software on your platform, I need to follow certain guidelines, and I expect you to make reasonable judgements about security and integration. But I also expect an even playing field, and when it begins to look like the company controlling the platform is controlling distribution purely for its own narrow interests, that's when alarm bells start going off. Apple isn't there yet, but they sure seem to be getting closer and closer to that edge every day. I'm just happy that I made the decision to develop for a truly open platform -- because freedom trumps good looks any day.
So, how can the Eclipse community respond to all of this? That's easy, we just need to get the Eclipse App Store up and running. Hey, kind of like the Android Market for desktops...hmm...maybe Google would be interested in giving us a little hand setting that up..
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I'm really happy to announce that AMP has its first committer -- the first committer who has the virtue of not being me, that is. So please welcome Jonas Ruettimann to the family of Eclipse committers. As is often the case AMP is now a fully virtual international project -- Jonas and colleagues are from Switzerland and we've never met face-to-face.
Here's what Jonas says about himself:
"Born in St.Gallen, Switzerland in 1980. Spent one year at Old Lyme highschool in Connecticut, USA. Moved back to St.Gallen to start off as a primary school teacher. Made my degree as an engineer in informatics in 2005. Since then I've been working as a software engineer at the University of applied sciences in Buchs and St.Gallen. Projects include a knowledge based system, process optimization software (GlobalOptimize) and modelling and simulation software (GlobalSimulate), all based on Eclipse. I've been working with Eclipse and building RCP-Applications since 2003."
And here is a little more about the institute. Of course, we're very grateful to have their support for Jonas's and others' efforts as well:
"Institute for modelling and simulation, FHS St.Gallen.. a group of ten people, working for the University of Applied Sciences in St.Gallen, Switzerland. We do research and provide services in managing complex processes by using modelling and simulation techniques. We're using static, system dynamic, discrete event and agent based models. Most solutions are custom made. But we also distribute two general purpose software solutions: GlobalOptimize and GlobalStorehouse. Besides, we're working on a multi-paradigm open source simulation software called GlobalSimulate."
Jonas and the institute's contributions look to be really important to the project. While they have done a lot of work in Agent-Based Modeling, their major software contribution will be in the area of Systems Dynamics modeling, which is an extremely important component of any comprehensive modeling toolkit. Even though the project name is "Agent Modeling Platform", the project really is about much more than agents.
I'll say more about this in future posts, but we already support innovative approaches to Model Execution and Simulation in general, but we haven't been clear about this potential and there are some relatively small improvements to the platform that could support a much broader set of use cases. For example, would you like to be able to take one of your EMF models, define behavior for it using an EMF-based meta-model -- including visual editors and all the other EMF services, and then execute behavior against it dynamically with compiled Java performance? If that sounds good to you, we already have most of the pieces in place. (The only part that is really missing is to get a complete EMF to AMF mapping, as you can already do the same for Java objects using other APIs) Let us know and we'll make that a priority.
Outside of even more general usages, AMP has the ambition to provide support for an entire array of Modeling and Simulation techniques as well as operations research, analytics and other domains. As we grow that vision within Eclipse, we very much want your ideas and input, but more than that we want your real live working code! If any of the above is interesting or important to you or your enterprise, you could be the next new AMP committer.
As a personal note, while many projects start out with a number of committers, AMP has been just me , so when I say "we" in various online conversations, most of the time I've really mean "me". And I've felt like a complete bozo saying "we" all the time. That's not to say that we (see what I mean?) haven't had a lot of input and effort from others, but it is a big difference to have someone who will actually be working on the code day to day. They say that the real measure of success of an Open Source project is the day that you can walk away and know that it will succeed without you and so today is a happy day indeed. Don't worry though Jonas, I'm not leaving yet. :)
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