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Roy Russo's Blog

30 posts

 

Pay no attention to the title. Today I felt like I should choose a blog title with the same random thought-process our portal competitors use when defining their roadmaps.

 

2005 is now coming to a close, and so it marks the birth year of the JBoss Portal project. Our first release, intelligently named 2.0 ;-), was made available in the March-April timeframe, and our second major release was just made available last week - 2.2. For the short amount of time the project has been in existence, we have seen our community blossom (explode, may be a better word to use), customers ranging from government agencies to Fortune 100 companies deploy websites and intranets, partners, such as Novell, Alfresco, and Cignex rally and support the development team, the emergence of PortletSwap as an open portlet/layout exchange site, our own JBoss Labs team using it to power a growing important part of the JBoss infrastructure, and now Julien sits on the Portlet Spec 2.0 group, and we both sit on the JCR 2.0 group. If this is what we have accomplished as a community, AND company with this project in its first year, look for us to change the portal market profoundly in 2006 (Note: This is where you folks at BEA stick your heads back in the sand).

 

Frankly, I never saw the mass adoption of JBoss Portal arriving so quickly. Normally, I assumed it took one or two years for a product to mature and gain wide-acceptance. The portal market, being as it is, with many players - open source, and proprietary - did not seem open to new arrivals. The competition was thick, often cutthroat, and some of the older players had been entrenched for years with proven business and development practices. Surely, the original portal team - Julien, Thomas, and I - would not stand a chance coming to market with a new release. Lets face it, some of the proprietary vendors had at their disposal, gaggles of developers and flocks of MBAs, and the open source competitors had the promise of "free". Needless to say, I had deep reservations about our success in the beginning. We were clearly outnumbered, outgunned, and a late arrival, but one thing I failed to see, was the fact that we were never outclassed.

 

Despite my reservations, it was quickly apparent before our first major release that the market was, in fact, ready for JBoss Portal. Even before our first launch, our partners had rallied behind us, lending resources and aiding us in various other ways, and the community had a taken up the cause and helped us fine-tune the product. From the onset (before we had product managers here at JBoss ;-)), the business goal was to model the success of JBoss Portal with that of JBoss Application Server. Mainly, provide a free, open source, scalable, stable product with all the functionality (and then some) of the properietary vendors, backed by proven JBoss Support Services. From a community development aspect, we looked at the Hibernate team as our example - great documentation, a focus on tutorials, ease-of-use, ease-of-installation, and a low learning curve - spurring early mass-adoption (Please don't tell Gavin I said this). So these were our differentiators, right? The open source players promised "free, free free", but didn't have the brand, support services, and, often, product quality to back it up. The proprietary players, oth, offered powerful tools, a bucket o' portlets, and support services (for better or worse), but installation, integration, and licensing costs would make even Bill Gates cry for his mommy (Note: BEA, place head back in sand).

 

So this is where we are today... a stable, scalable, spec-compliant portal framework, JCR-based CMS, SSO support... okay... you can see the feature list for yourself here. We run with the big boys now and don't look back. Our 2.4 release will be available 2Q 2006, featuring WSRP, improvements to the bundled web content manager (workflow, webDAV, etc...), and improvements to the core architecture. PortletSwap.com will also undergo a bit of a refactoring for tighter integration in to the product itself.

 

If this blog entry seems like a pat on the back, well not quite - with respect to the JBoss Portal team (Julien, Thomas, Boleslaw), the great and talented people at JBoss, our partners, and the portal community, this is a pat on the back, a handshake, a bear hug, and a kiss in the mouth. ;-) You all had a hand in making portal achieve greatness in its first calendar year. This thing is going to grow, and any reservations I had in the beginning have been replaced by anticipation of what greatness lies before us all.

 

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

The judges have voted and the PSPs have been purchased. ;-) The First Annual PortletSwap Meet is over and the winners are as follows:

  • Collaboration Portlet: Aron Gombas for Kosmos (Komposite Open Source Monitoring Suite), a set of JSR168 portlets for monitoring JIRA, SVN, CruiseControl, and SourceForge.
  • Framework Portlet: Ralf Eichinger for a Tapestry portlet, showing how easy it is to develop and utilize the Tapestry framework in portlet development.
  • Enterprise Portlet: Jamie McCrindle for PortletBridge, A web-clipping portlet used to integrate backend information systems with JSR168-compliant portals.

 

We'd like to personally thank everyone that submitted portlets to PortletSwap during the contest and would encourage all of you to continue submitting in the future. You have all made PortletSwap the largest Open Source portlet exchange community on the web for JSR168-compliant portlets!

 

The PSPs were purchased yesterday by myself and our marketing director, "Joltin" Joe McGonnell, and will be mailed out this week. For some insane reason we were not able to buy them at the local Gamestop due to their corporate policy, which dictates only one PSP can be purchased per customer. I'm not exactly sure why some brainiac thought it was a good idea to ration PSPs like bottles of water to hurricane victims, but his wackjob ideas are surely costing you more than he's worth. Its a toy, guys, not an essential article needed to sustain life... no matter what your 12 y/o customers tell you. Perhaps they're running a charity and not a business? Anyhow, we took our money elsewhere and purchased them at a sensible company willing to take our money. ;-) +1 for stupid business practices.

 

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

The First Annual PortletSwap Meet is over. The judges are currently going over the entries and winners will be announced this week. The entries we received in the 2 months of the contest are as follows:

  • Tapestry Portlet - Calendar portlet built on the Tapestry framework.
  • Image Gallery - Image gallery portlet that implements the JBoss Portal CMS.
  • Kosmos - Version control, issue tracker, build process, and project dependencies portlets used for OS projects.
  • PortletBridge - Allows for proxying of websites via a portlet.
  • Stock/News Portlet - Stock and Industry News aggregator portlets.
  • JavaPlant Base MVC Portlet Framework - A custom MVC framework built specifically with portlet development in mind.

 

Sorry for the delay on selecting the prize-winners, but Julien and I recently returned from our first Portal Training in Washington, DC, and so have a bit of catching up to do.

 

Thanks to all that took part in the contest! We hope to have a similar affair next year and hope to build PortletSwap out in the interim to be a one-stop-shop for portlets and portlet developers.

 

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

JBoss World Barcelona is finally over, so I thought I'd throw up a recap post on how things went strictly from a Portal perspective.

 

This conference opened our eyes to what the JBoss Portal team has achieved in just a short amount of time, since going final in June 2005. There were no less than four presentations that were portal related at the conference.

  • WSRP - presented by Novell
  • Jasper Reporting Portal - presented by JasperSoft
  • Alfresco Document Management System - presented by Alfresco
  • JBoss Portal 2.2 Features - presented by myself, Julien, and (Zen)Martin from Novell

 

I must admit, I was caught off-guard as to what JBoss Portal would become so quickly. Sure, I had the random illusions of grandeur that we would be competing against the stuffed suits at IBM and BEA in the open market, but never did I envision us competing with AND beating them at their own game; specially not this early in to the lifecycle of the project. It is obvious now to me that there was a significant need in the marketplace for an enterprise-class standards-based portal. Furthermore, it is obvious to Julien and I, that the momentum for JBoss Portal is here, real, and will only grow - Morale +1, Ego +500. ;-)

 

The show was an excellent display of how a growing number of partners/businesses are hitching their wagons to the JBoss Portal project. Both Alfresco and JasperSoft had booths and presentations displaying their applications running on top of JBoss Portal. Novell had a hand in our own Portal presentation, conducted a WSRP presentation (they are contributing WSRP to JBoss Portal), and I also had the fortune to watch AJAX working inside their portal. I had reservations about AJAX working inside a portal, after Julien and I played with it in our own skunkworx-like enviroment, but what they showed us seemed to put *most* of my issues at ease.

 

Overall it was a great show. Unfortunately I tend to walk around with my head up my ???, so I tend to pay attention only to "All Things Portal". I am sure there was more going on at the show, but between the presentations, questions, and meeting all the JBoss folks everything else is but a blur.

 

Of course, I would not being doing this post justice if I did not post a picture of the Hibernate and Portal team group-hug.

is it just me, or is gavin balding?

 

To those of you who missed it, you missed a great set of presentations and some pretty wild nights on the streets of Barcelona (Thanks to Mark Proctor for those). It will surely be hard to top this at the next JBWorld, but we'll try. ;-)

 

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

Julien and I wrote a great article on whether Portals are right for any and every large web application project. It is entitled "Are Portals the Magic Bullet of Web Application Development?". I was quite amazed to see it on the cover when the editor sent us the proof. You can check it out in this month's issue of the JDJ. It is meant as a rather unbiased Q&A for those creating or migrating from an existing web application architecture. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a copy here in Atlanta, Miami, or Chicago. They must be having trouble keeping it on the shelves, as my handsome picture is included. (Next time, JDJ, put my pic on the cover.) ;-)

JBoss Portal on JDJ Cover

 

There is much excitement building over our coming release of JBoss Portal 2.2. So for those of you who cannot attend our presentation at JBoss World Barcelona, we will be conducting a live webinar on Oct. 5th at 1PM EST. Of course, Julien and I expose the secret Portal-2.2 ingredients at our live conference and not at the webinar. Still, this webinar will be a trimmed down version of the real-deal to be presented at JBoss World Barcelona.

 

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

The JBoss Portal team is proud to announce the launch of JBoss PortletSwap - a living, breathing, JBoss-Portal-based, community site devoted to the free exchange of JSR-168 compliant portlets and JBoss Portal themes/layouts. To mark the occasion, we have decided to kick things off with The First Annual PortletSwap Meet (pun intended), where three winners will be selected to win shiny new PlayStation Portables. The contest runs from August 30 until October 25, 2005. You can find entry information here.

 

Our underlying belief is that the portal community has long needed a reliable catalog of compliant portlets that can be easily plugged in to existing portal frameworks. Although the portlets offered on PortletSwap.com are preconfigured to work in JBoss Portal, they should theoretically work in most containers on the market today. We have already populated some of the existing categories with portlets and layouts for the community to download. As I said earlier, this is a living site to be maintained by the JBoss Portal team based on input from our large community of Portal contributors, corporate partners, and users.

 

Keep in mind that contributing JBoss Portal portlets, themes and /or layouts to JBoss Portletswap can lead to significant recognition of your efforts. It may become widely deployed with recognition attributed to you. As JBoss Portal grows, we offer employment opportunities to leading contributors who have made a difference. JBoss will run periodic contests with fun and useful prizes to recognize those who build portlets, themes and/or layouts that are recognized by other leading developers for their usefulness, innovation and style.

 

We hope to see you there taking part, and adding your work to the catalog for all to share!

 

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

Oracle 10g Scripts

Posted by roy.russo Aug 16, 2005

 

So I was busy testing our new JBoss Slide component for JBoss Portal. Julien tends to develop against Postgres and hypersonic, while I have Oracle10g and MySQL on my box. Frankly, I prefer testing against MySQL, but we are well aware of the fact enterprise houses will most likely be running on a mac-daddy Oracle DB with a gaggle of DBAs administering them. The problem I've found with running Oracle10g locally, is that my laptop's startup time can take up to 10 minutes!

 

The good news is that the new Slide store running on Hibernate works well on the supported DBs we tested on, and should work on any Hibernate-support RDBMS. The bad news is that I had to enable all the different Oracle services on my windows box to test it...

 

To avoid this nightmare in the future, as I typically have the services all disabled purely for performance reasons, I created two scripts to handle the lengthy startup and kill times. They are available from here and obviously only work on Windows. Hopefully someone can find these useful, as I couldn't find anything related to 10g on the web to handle this.

 

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

Recently, after our 2.0 Final release, we have been asked a lot of questions regarding what direction we intend to take our CMS component. I hope to address some of the questions/concerns in this post, and outline what we have been working on thus far in this respect.

 

JBoss Portal 2.2 (due 11/2005) will leverage the Java Content Repository specification (JSR170), which was recently finalized. As an implementation, we have chosen, at the moment, to use Apache Jackrabbit. Our prototype is, in fact, using jackrabbit. Currently, our prototype is sitting in private CVS. Once it is farther along, Julien and I will discuss how/when to make it available online for all community members (perhaps a simple zip file will do). This will be the case, until the prototype achieves Julien's blessing and can be integrated with JBoss Portal CVS.

 

Some major points that are planned for the CMS:

 

 

  • CMS will leverage JCR - As stated for reasons above, and the fact that this buys us a flexible API for both hierarchical and non-hieararchical repository models based on a file system or RDBMS, and even accessible through WebDAV. My own long-run goal is to have the CMS object model be object-agnostic, so anyone creating a forumPortlet/blogPortlet/whateverPortlet can leverage it. This will require more thought and testing on my part.
  • A pluggable CMS - Allowing for for our bundled CMS to be replaced by an existing/new CMS backend. This will make it easier for companies like Alfresco to plug their Document Management Systems in to the portal. A Service Provider Interface (SPI) will be provided for this case. Note: This implies that the CMS will no longer be tightly integrated with our portal core.
  • Basic workflow - The idea here is to have a (basic) workflow mechanism for supervisor approval of content modification/creation. (This feature may not be in the 2.2 release, and we will most probably not be utilizing jBPM until a later date for more advanced workflow.)
  • AdminCMS - The administrative face of our CMS will have to be modified to interact with the new architecture.
  • Migration Issues - 2.0 to 2.2 CMS changes will require migration scripts for content.


 

CMS Architecture

 

The new CMS will feature a completely new architecture and object model. To illustrate the new architecture, we have created this Figure:

CMS Architecture

 

To elaborate on the above image:

  • The CMS service runs as an HA singleton
    • The master node uses JCR to read/write to the database
    • The other nodes delegate to the master node
    • The use of the command pattern enables to execute the command on the master node
  • The cache should provide fast access to the data for the read client
    • Fetch data from the CMS
    • On a read operation
      • Use the entry if found in the cache
      • Otherwise get the entry from the CMS and put it in the cache, this is a remote operation on slave nodes
    • On a write operation
      • On slave nodes this translates into a command executed on the master node
      • The master node writes the operation to the repository
      • The master node updates the entry from the cache which removes it globally


 

Much of the work in the prototype thus far, has concentrated on the CMS Service, new object model, command pattern concept, and how it all interacts with JCR (nodetypes, session handling, workspaces, etc...). Below, is a UML diagram of some of the work:

 

 

So as one can see, the entry-point to this architecture is the CMS Service, which is covered in the first diagram. The rest of the architecture is quite simply a command pattern for common operations (some of which are object-agnostic), and an object model based on the nt:file and nt:folder nodetypes included in JCR.

 

At the time of this blog, I have not yet implemented the versioning features in the object model or command pattern. This should be done before the end of this week, however. Once this new prototype is completed, the task begins in incorporating it with JBoss Portal, as it is purely a standalone application right now. At that point, any community contributors willing to lend a hand and get their feet wet with the CMS component are more than welcome to take part.

 

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

... and so it was a long and not-so-winding road, but thanks to all the independent portal contributors, the Novell team members, and the JBoss Portal team, we are proud to announce the release of JBoss Portal 2.0. In case you missed some of the press releases, I scooped up a few from Google alerts and listed them here for you to browse:

 

The press releases are the usual sort you would expect from a business-side PR channel. However, the most important message I can convey with regards to this major release, is that JBoss Portal Is Here. What do I mean by that? Frankly, great things abound with the portal project... JBoss Portal has hit every release date on its roadmap thus far, for the month of May we had over 27,000 downloads, companies are building their technology offerings on the portal, and the amount of community participation we've seen is amazing. Add to that the fact that we implement proven JBoss technologies such as JBoss Cache, Hibernate, JGroups, JBoss AS and back it all up with JBoss, Inc support services and we find ourselves with an extremely solid offering.

 

Even with these great signs and great strides we've taken in a short amount of time, I have to say, the best is yet to come. Portal 2.2 (due in 4Q 2005) will extend the project's abilities by adding in WSRP, a JCR implementation, and a clean interface for the manipulation of dynamic objects.

 

On behalf of the Portal Team, we thank all of you that made this Portal software what it is today. As we continue marching forward on our roadmap, we will continue listening and working with the community and solidifying the portal offering we have today.

 

 

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

Sorry for the delay in posting my monthly article on where we are with respect to the Portal project. I was waiting for us to finalize the roadmap for the remainder of 2k5 and we were also a bit busy pushing out the RC2 release, which works with Hibernate3 and has much simpler install and configuration process. Frankly, installation is now a no-brainer and we can thank Julien for making this a reality.

 

I'm going to do things a little backwards this month and focus on the most important piece of news-at-hand first...

 

And the downloads are...
Lets take a break this month from posting every number I can find related to JBoss Portal and just focus on one number: 27487. So what does it mean? You should all know by now how much I value download numbers as a reflection of the overall health and growing adoption of a project. So, 27487 is the amount of downloads JBoss Portal has had for the month of May, compared to 12,000+ for April.

 

So lets put this all in perspective by comparing our numbers to other OS projects (we pretty much lapped them). For example, lets take a quick look at Liferay and see how they're doing in the downloads arena from stats on sf.net. Their 3.2 release has seen 10,000+ downloads per month. Lapped. ;-) 'nuff said.

 

Important Dates:
So now that we have our roadmap spec'd out, all that remains is adding in some more information on some of the line-items and assigning firm dates to each major and the incremental releases leading up to them. You can see the roadmap here.

  • 2.0.1 (Maintenance Release) - August
  • 2.2 (Blade) - November 2k5
  • 2.4 (Diablo) - No ETA.


 

There are some other tasks that are not pegged to the release cycle that we should keep in mind. We have our JBoss Labs Team building out the new JBoss Forge on top of portal. They are busy adding in a lot of cool features like the Xwiki portlet, a downloads portlet, and CMS portlets that integrate with SVN repositories. All of this work will be open sourced, once complete, adding to the JBoss Portal project.

 

Team and Tasks:

  • As mentioned before. Julien added in a bsh script that makes installation an absolute breeze - creating the DB tables for you on any Hibernate-support RDBMS and even creating the initial CMS content for you.
  • We refreshed the wiki a bit. We made sure to only post portlets and themes that are working. You can download them here.
  • The webinar this last month was a great success. We had 100 folks show up and they even stayed through my demo on "how to configure and deploy a custom theme. For those of you that missed it, you can view the recording here. A lot of great questions were asked, so thanks for the great participation!
  • As far as the roadmap items go, I will blog soon and elaborate on who is going to do what. I've been tasked with implementing JCR, and I know a lot of you out there have a lot of questions about Portal + JCR and how it will all fit together. Concerns about the theme API and WSRP will be addressed there as well.


STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

The Portlet sample wiki page has been updated recently to show off the flexibility of our theme API and showcase JBoss Portal support for existing web frameworks.

 

I have added two new themes that can be downloaded and deployed easily by following this section of the reference guide. One of the themes is the actual one used in the reference guide example and the other is the one used in our portal webinar demo, you can view recorded here.

 

The sample portlets include SpringMVC, Struts, and MyFaces portlets. I also added a freebie RSSPortlet that displays RSS content and is configurable from its own portlet.xml.

 

Hopefully this will help some of you implement framework-based portlets and custom themes in Portal using these examples.

 

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

Important Dates:
  • RC due this week!
  • Final Release week-of-June 1st.

Team and Tasks:
  • Overall, most of the tasks delegated for the RC release have been completed - at least the most important ones.
  • The Novell team has brought a Theme/Layout API and installer with this release. The Installer is still being tested. Martin and I will be adding documentation for developers who want to roll in their own themes/layouts to the Portal. Downloadable theme samples will follow.
  • Julien is working on incorporating the Struts-Bridge, currently. No pressure, Julien. ;-)
  • A comprehensive feature list will be published with this release, detailing all features currently available in the Portal.
  • I'm beginning work on a samples module build. I have all of the samples I want incorporated in to the module, but have to come up with a clever build system for them. Initially, this module will contain: MyFaces, Struts, HelloWorld, Sun JSF-RI, and Spring MVS Portlet samples with source. This should help a lot of developers currently asking how to integrate applications built on other frameworks with our portal.

Numbers, in the Raw:
  • JBoss Portal homepage ranked 18th most visited on jboss.com/org for April 2005. 20575 Total Visits. Increase of ~3000 page views over last month (17034).
  • Seems like some people actually read my blog. 4988 views to the blog for April. Ranked 46 on most trafficked pages on jboss.com/org.
  • New bundled version: Our bundled version was released on April 15th. Thats 3476 downloads to date. 231/day.
  • Binary and Source releases are averaging 150 and 130 downloads per day respectively.
  • Portal javadoc viewed 5763 times in April. Ranked 11th across all JBoss docs on most viewed. Perhaps it may be time to deploy a downladable javadoc archive? Lots of you seem to be coding away on portal, we'll make it easier on you. ;-)
  • Averaging 30 unique members posting to forums per month.

Community:
  • We want to personally thank two of our community contributors for their hard work on the portal project.
    • Kev "kevs3d" Roast for supplying us with two working portlets that integrate in to the portal: Sun JSF-RI and Spring MVC Portlet.
    • Swarn "sdhaliwal" Dhaliwal for supplying with us with the Struts-Bridge which, when implemented, will allow for existing struts applications to work with the Portal.
  • The portal project is looking for one more community contributor to add to our existing team at JBoss, Inc. I will blog about this in a separate entry after this release is complete and the work-dust has settled.

OpEd:
Our bundled archive will soon surpass our binary download in raw number of downloads. This was to be expected, and I'm glad it was suggested to us by a community member. It will be a standard going forward with every release, even though the sar installer will be arriving. Frankly, its a much easier way for users to get up and running. The down side is that there are less posts in the forums regarding portal. The upside is that the posts we're seeing/answering are more technical in nature - users are not having installation and configuration issue thanks to this bundle, and are digging deeper under the hood. All in all it was a great portal-month. We have significant momentum and interest from the community toward the project. To see the list of candidate features we will all be exploring for the next major release, you can go here.

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

I think if I were to add up all the man hours spent on dealing with Sourceforge CVS by JBoss committers and anonymous accessors alike, we could have probably have achieved a manned space mission to mars, solved world hunger, solved world poverty, and brought peace to the Middle East with time left over for all involved to smoke cigars and drink 100 year-old scotch by the planetary water-cooler (... that's Jamaica, btw). Frankly, its hard to describe the anxiety and nausea I would feel right before having to perform a clean checkout or update, without resorting to profanity and mad tourette's style rants. We're a big company now, so Roy office rants are frowned upon, by some. Hence, the silent scream.

 

Whats the problem with slow CVS access, some may ask... just keep working as it works its magic in the background. Well, it wouldn't be so bad if Intellij IDEA had an "idea" on how to not lock the developer out of all instances of its product while a CVS command is running. For those of you that do not use IDEA, imagine working on JBoss Portal BETA, JBoss Nukes 1.1, and JBoss Portal HEAD, then running an update on JBoss Portal HEAD, and having to sit there for 20 minutes while all 3 instances are frozen in time as you watch the kilobytes *race* across the pipe at a rate of 1 every 10 seconds. Why the Intellij developers didn't think of this, is beyond me and defies logic. Maybe they had a fast pipe to their CVS repository.. who knows? My fellow JBoss developers using Eclipse IDE don't have this problem, and those using command-line CVS commands, avoid the problem with IDE locks altogether.

 

The problem with IDEA would not be even noticeable, if the connection to SourceForge was decent. In a word, it is abysmal during the day. I've found a clever way to get around this by staying up until 11PM EST to perform CVS operations. Okay, so its not clever, but it gets around the problem. A problem that will be a thing of the past.

 

Enter our new JBoss Labs Director, Damon Sicore (http://jboss.org/jbossBlog/blog/dsicore/). As one of his first duties on the job, he's managed to migrate all CVS repositories under JBoss SourceForge Projects to our own internal infrastructure. +1, Damon... he's managed to save anyone dealing with JBoss CVS buckets of time and increase productivity by facilitating this move. Now IDEA locking will be an issue forgotten in the past. Maybe I'll stay with IDEA after all is said and done. ;-)

 

Now begins the task of updating all our docs, wiki articles, forums announcements, etc... to point to our new repository for those wishing to build off of HEAD.

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

As we march toward our RC, due out in early May, I thought it would be a good idea to track progress made within the JBoss Portal project. I usually, end up looking at the stats myself, but thought it would be nice to open them up to the community as a whole.

 

Important Dates:

  • RC due May 1st.
  • Final Release due June 1st.
Team and Tasks:
  • We are on-target on our release dates thus far. Novell's side is also on-target with regards to releasing on the set dates placed before them.
  • Forums and XWiki work progressing.
  • The portal team is minus Thomas Heute. He is assisting in a consulting capacity mostly and helping in the forums for now. His tasks were dispersed by Julien to the remaining members. (me/Julien/Novell). His transition is going smoothly.
  • The portal team is plus 2 Novell developers. These guys are sharp, motivated, and dont play around. An extremely healthy addition to the team! We merged cultures, painlessly. Morale +1.
  • The Novell team is actively working on the Installer and Theme-API tasks.
Community:
  • JBoss Portal homepage ranked 17th most visited on jboss.com/org for March 2005. 17034 Total Visits. w00t!
  • Forums were started ~6 months ago. (Alpha was released 4 months ago.)
  • Over 1100 posts to date by 120 distinct members.
  • Average ~10 posts a day.
  • Average one new Poster a day.
  • Roughly 75% of posts are installation/configuration issues. (I estimate Novell Installer will mostly eliminate these issues)
  • Remainder of posts are members extending or building on top of the framework.
  • Independent contributor donated two example portlets: Spring MVC Example Portlet and Sun JSF-RI Example Portlet.
  • I will focus this month on sprucing up our homepage - bringing some important items up on the page will help, easier navigation, collateral accessibility, etc..
  • Forum stats are impressive. I never bothered to look, just answered posts. Picking up one poster a day, means to me there are XXX others lurking that downloaded and are playing with it. 

 

Our download stats on sourceforge have been broken, since we first posted our Alpha release several months ago. So I uploaded our archives to our own JBoss FTP server last night at 11PM Eastern, and routed all links to this new directory. I just had a look at the stats that run nightly and noticed a healthy number.

119051.63%76148651.34%/jbossportal/2.0b1/jboss-portal-2.0-beta1-bin.zip
2369.78%59397240.05%/jbossportal/2.0b1/jboss-portal-2.0-beta1-src.zip
311832.07%1229538.29%/jbossportal/2.0b1/jboss-forums-2.0-beta1a-bin.zip
420.54%46750.32%/jbossportal/2.0b1/jboss-forums-2.0-beta1a-src.zip

 

For one hour worth of downloads, this is a solid number of activity. Next month, I will post the totals for April. I also plan on releasing a JBoss-4.0.1/Portal bundled version in the coming days. This will suffice until we get the installer in place, for those who are having trouble installing the Portal.

 

STAY METAL!
Roy Russo

 

Lately there has been a healthy amount of press surrounding Novell's support and expanded resource contributions to JEMS (JBoss Enterprise Middleware System). There are several links I have archived in our Wiki regarding this. I won't go in to the finer details of how this affects JBoss or Novell as entities, or what the nature of the partnership brings to the OS community as a whole. I feel it is obvious to everyone that this is great news for both participants and the community as a whole.

 

The JBoss Portal community's, and my, specific concerns with the partnership, and one I will address here, is Novell's contributions and support of the project I work on, JBoss Portal. I believe the concerns are warranted. The OS community has always been skeptical of large corporations having a role in the development of OS projects. Religious philosophies and corporate paranoia over the hijacking of a project are probably at the root of these concerns. The questions that are voiced in private emails to me and forum posts, universally have the same underlying concerns, and I will address them all here.

 

Before I address these questions/concerns, a short background on the JBoss Portal project. Trust me, it'll help put things in perspective.

 

Background

 

When speaking about the JBoss Portal project, I am often forced to go even farther back and address our former JBoss Nukes CMS project. This is where it all began for us. Frankly, I see more and more CMS's converting over to the portal space and implementing the JSR-168 spec, as we did. This project was started by Julien Viet several years ago. It is what currently powers the JBoss.com website, and is a port of the popular OS Post-Nuke PHP project. Under the hood, it is essentially a CMS with an assortment of modules plugged in to it (forums, downloads, FAQ, etc..). Once the portlet spec was final, we made the decision to implement it. We then approached the ubiquitous CMS "fork in the road" where one has to decide whether to implement the JSR-168 Specification inside our existing Nukes CMS or start from scratch. For licensing and various other architectural reasons, we (ok, mostly Julien - Portal project lead) decided to begin anew. In hindsight, this was a wise decision that ended up saving us hours of development work and screaming bouts of frustration.

 

Over the past ~8 months, the project team along with community contributors, have worked hard on a scalable, flexible, and feature-rich JSR-168 compliant framework. Practically nothing of the old Nukes-CMS remains, with the exception of our Forums. We loved our message boards so much, we just had to "portletize" them and plug them in. ;-) We have made great strides in this time, with a Beta release announced recently at JBoss World, an RC planned for early May, and a Final Release in early June. (w00t!)

 

The portal team, employed by JBoss Inc., is made up of three developers... ok, now two. One of us ran off recently with the jBPM crowd and Sir Gavin King to work on other things that will later materialize in to a stronger Portal. Where there were 3, now there are 2. Luckily we have a vibrant and growing community willing to poke, prod, and extend the portal framework. Heck, they go as far as making it do things we never envisioned it doing... the wonders of OS software. ;-)

 

Enter Novell

 

So at this moment in time, we were faced with only 2 full-time developers working on the portal project. Considering the highly competitive nature of the portal space, I had some reservations. Before I could open my, rather large and un metered, mouth I was approached by someone with "Vice" in their title within JBoss, Inc. as to the prospect of having Novell work on JBoss Portal alongside the existing team. I knew Novell had their own portal software for years in development/production and was curious to see what it is they wanted with our, at the time, Alpha Release of Portal. After all, they were farther along than us. Perhaps it was my OS-corporate-religious-paranoia talking, but I brushed it all aside and opened my eyes/ears to what the Novell team had in mind.

 

We had a conference call with their portal team several months ago. They walked us thru their own portal software and we got to meet the brains behind it. I got a good sense at the time they had thoroughly evaluated JBoss Portal's architecture and played around with it enough to feel confident in merging teams, skills, and disciplines. They sounded like they were ready to jump in to the fire with us immediately.

 

I was still skeptical. The initial meeting left me with more questions than answers. One of them and the one asked most frequently to me,

 

"Why doesn't Novell just keep developing their own existing portal software?" The answer is simple, and unabashed, I asked the same question to one of their developers at JBoss World. The short of it is that Novell wants to focus on their core competency.. application software development. Its a wise move on their part. They stick to developing application software that plugs in to a portal framework, and they don't have to worry about the tedious and developer-expensive tasks of maintaining the framework. So they come to the table with some extremely bright and experienced portal developers, aid us in building out the core, and the rest of their team works on portlets that fuel their own business. It is a great use of resources and a great coupling of disciplines.

 

So once satisfied with Novell's reasoning behind the partnership, the next obvious question is, "What specifically will Novell do for JBoss Portal?" The short answer is that they will bring several key components that were already on our existing roadmap to fruition long before we envisioned them being implemented. These are:

  • WSRP
  • Theme API
  • Installer
  • Additional Portlets

 

So they are essentially accelerating our time-to-market for important features on the existing roadmap. The additional portlets they are bringing along with them are going to be open-sourced under the LGPL license. They will probably not be bundled with the main distribution, but offered as downloadable and categorized portlet packs. How/when they will be offered is still being discussed. We are targeting the Theme API and Installer for our Final release. They will likely be in our RC due out in early May and undergo extensive QA testing along with everything else. WSRP will not be available until post-Final-Release of JBoss Portal 2.0.

 

The above, outlines their contributions to the 2.0 release. Future enhancements, aside from WSRP, are still in planning and will be addressed on our public roadmap.

 

I've been asked a few times by JBoss Portal community members if we fear a large company, namely Novell, hijacking the development process for their own financial gains. This is a purely symbiotic relationship. I have found that all of us in the portal team have the same goal in mind... to offer the best, scalable, flexible, OS Portal framework to the public. Frankly, any paranoid delusions I had in mind have been quelled since I've begun working with the Novell team. On a personal level, they are great to work with. On a professional level, they are extremely bright and eager participants willing to pick up any and all tasks put before them on our roadmap. Corporate press releases tend to leave these sorts of details out, and that is why I embarked on this blog article.

 

So where do we go from here?

 

I only see great things coming from this partnership. The Novell portal developers are bringing years of experience in developing their own portal software and lending a hand with JBoss Portal. I feel grateful to be part of this project. After months of hard work, I see a quickly exploding community, wide acceptance and adoption, and a feature-rich and stable product that's fit to have the JBoss brand attached to it. In the end, the Novell contributions will only help to accelerate our growth-path and solidify the JBoss Portal product.

 

 

 

Stay Metal!

 

-Roy-