Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Where are we going?

I'd like to return to the questions raised by Joe Winchester in his article to see if we can provide some answers as they relate to the scope and vision of the proposed Eclipse Modeling Project.

Regarding the value-add perspective of high-cost commercial tool vendors, I'd agree this is a reason we've not see such tooling contributed in whole to open source. This is reasonable, considering the large effort it takes to produce such tooling (or at least, as it has in the past). Projects such as GMF promise to significantly reduce the cost of producing high-quality graphical editors for practically any domain. This will pressure commercial vendors to provide another level of value-add functionality in their products, or see themselves be commoditized much like the IDE market has been.

A significant part of this next level of value-add will come with the continued realization of model-driven development technologies, as I see it. This relates to Joe's second point, regarding the perceived usefulness of "modeling" tools by many. I suspect most would agree with the Agile value of "working software over comprehensive documentation," where the latter is typically seen as the primary value-add that modeling tools bring to development (like it or not). With model-driven development, the production of working software from models is the focus, and what if anything will grow popular interest in "modeling" tools.

To this end, the Modeling project aims to unify and extend the current capabilities found among Eclipse projects (both standards-compliant and alternative). Recent contributions to GMF and the EMFT project (model query, validation, transaction, and OCL), not to mention improvements coming to JET, brings the overall set of capabilities within Modeling much closer to what will be needed for model-driven tooling to continue evolving at Eclipse. The GMF project takes a model-driven approach, and leverages several of these capabilities to generate domain-specific modeling tools, which in turn can leverage the same capabilities to allow for the production of more model-based generative tooling. The potential is there, although significant work remains, most notably in the area of model transformation.

In conclusion, I would agree with Joe that the reason that we have not yet seen good, high-level tools in open source is that the (relatively small) community hasn't gotten around to creating them. While a goal of the Modeling project is to provide a home at Eclipse for high quality frameworks and exemplary tools of this nature, it is just getting started. The easy part was in its declaration, while the hard work to realize it through additional contributions and improved interoperability is at hand.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Successful Project Creation Review

Rich did a most excellent job presenting an overview of the project proposal at yesterday's creation review meeting. It was completed in a record time of just nine minutes, which was much appreciated by the reviewers because it left them plenty of time for questions. Since we were able to answer all the questions, the review completed without a hitch. We are now looking forward to a final vote of approval from the board during their EclispeCon meeting.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lax Canadian Border Security


I see that I will need to have yet another chat with my friends at the border to ensure that suspicious types such as yourself don't slip through the security cracks on a regular basis. I thought I'd been very clear with them the first time, but obviously your dazzling display of open source knowledge intimidated them into throwing wide our borders yet again. Well, rest assured that with a little bit of re-education and re-training, this breach in protocol won't work for you a second time...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Welcome to Canada!

Inspired by Mike Milinkovich, who alerted me to an article by Joe Winchester, I have decided to finally create a blog (why not?). The plan is to focus on modeling-related topics at Eclipse, specifically concerning the newly proposed top-level Modeling project. Hopefully, it will become a team effort with Ed and others, not unlike what Bjorn and Ward have done here.

Now, for the real inspiration for this blog entry... my recent trip to Canada to discuss said Modeling project with fellow-proposed PMC members.

Living in Connecticut, and after discovering there are no direct means by which to travel to Ottawa, I decided to drive (mistake #1). After a few hours of driving across barren upstate New York, I arrived at the border where I informed the guard I was traveling on business (mistake #2). This and a few other pointed questions won me the opportunity to speak with another guard behind door #1 at the official "Canadian Welcome Center."

Now, if you've ever questioned the motivation behind open source, or pondered the question of how a for-profit company can make $ by contributing to Eclipse... here's an exchange that may be familiar:

Border Guard: "What brings you to Canada?"
Me: "I'm going to Ottawa to meet with some folks at IBM."
Border Guard: "Do you work for IBM?"
Me: "No, I work for Borland Software."
Border Guard: "Then, why are you going to meet with IBM?"
Me: "Well, we work together on the same project."
Border Guard: "Whose product is it?"
Me: "Uh, it's an open source project at Eclipse." (mistake #3)
Border Guard: "Who sells it?" (now I'm in trouble)
Me: "Nobody, actually. It's free software." (honesty is not seeming like the best policy here)
Border Guard: "So, who pays you?"
Me: "Borland does."
Border Guard: "So, does Borland pay the IBM employees on the project?"
Me: "No, IBM pays them." (clearly, I am never getting into Canada)
Border Guard: "I'm not sure I understand. How do you make money by doing this?"
Me: "Now, that is a great question that I don't think anyone has a good answer to yet." (mistake #4)
Border Guard: "OK, so do you have a Letter of Invitation?"
Me: "No." (mistake #5)
Border Guard: "Well, you'll need to have one filled out and faxed here before I can let you pass."
Me: "OK, thanks."

I return to my car, fire up the laptop, and try to locate a number I can call to get such a letter. Of course, there is no answer. I leave a message and look for another number to try when suddenly, I see my new Canadian friend emerge from behind door #1.

Border Guard: "OK, I looked it up online and guess it's true. Next time, you'll need to have a Letter of Invitation, but I'm going to let you pass this time."
Me: "Thanks. I sure will." (thinking to myself, "Next time, I'll be a tourist.")

Anyway, the plan is to continue contributing to Eclipse and with the help of our Canadian colleagues (and border patrol), form a solid community around modeling-related activities at Eclipse. In response to Joe Winchester's article, stay tuned to the new Modeling project and this blog for more information about how and when high-level design tools will become available at Eclipse.