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Looking Back at JavaOne 2007

Posted by hiheiss on May 17, 2007 at 11:46 AM PDT

Looking back on JavaOne 2007

The 2007 JavaOne Conference is over. As always it’s a bit
of a blur, but buried within the blur are nuggets of knowledge, or at
least, moments of clarification where things fall into place. Since
my focus was mostly on open source this time around that’s where
I learned some things.

From Simon Phipps (TS-7498 Liberating Java) Sun’s chief Open
Source officer (look for an article shortly after JavaOne
Conference) I got a better grasp of the motivations and processes
that drive open source.

* Open source developing is not so much about altruism or using
free software so much as creating a work that brings value to the
developer and sustaining it by leveraging the network of other
developers in the community. It’s about avoiding regression testing
hell.

* End users love open-source software because it gives them
control.

* The Apache Software Foundation told Phipps that they looked at
their 10-year history and have not seen a single example of
someone forking an Apache code base and continuing the fork
without contributing code back in the end. Everyone either gives
up or gives back -- there is no third way.

Open Source Developers

The essence of open source software says Phipps: “Open source is
not about using software you have got for free; it is about creating
a work that brings value to you and sustaining it by leveraging the
network of other developers in the community. You are not
abusing them; you are simply collaborating with them in co-
maintaining and co-developing software you are working on. It’s
about avoiding regression testing hell.”

According to Phipps, software always starts with a creative
individual who will be creating a piece of software that will be
meeting a particular need perhaps for a client or for their own
business. They use that software to create a free source commons.

Then someone else looks at that software and realizes it’s a perfect
starting point for their project. They modify it, fix a few bugs and
solve their business problem. The new guy realizes that every
change he makes has a life of its own and will need sustaining. As
changes flow through from the commons each change he has made
will need regression testing; as the code commons builds, every
change he has made will need refactoring and maintaining within
the context of a larger body of code.

As the code commons changes, new skills are required and he
realizes he needs all of the skills in the community in order to
maintain the improvements he’s made against the open source
code commons. He realizes that that is a recipe for bankruptcy:
forking a code commons leads to regression test hell. So instead of
keeping these changes to himself, he is going to contribute them
back not because he is an altruist or a philanthropist, but because
he realizes the best way to produce great software is to contribute
back. This is the key dynamic in the open source community. Open
source is not about using software you have got for free; it is about
creating a work that brings value to you and sustaining it by
leveraging the network of other developers in the community. You
are not abusing them; you are simply collaborating with them in
co-maintaining and co-developing software you are working on.

Why End Users Love Open Source -- Control

End users love open source software, not because they love to have
6 million lines of extra source code – they love it is because they
don’t have to buy a bundle any more. They don’t have to buy the
glossy box with all the stuff in it. They don’t have to buy a
software license and are told it comes with indemnity and
installability and documentation and training and support. Then
when they make a claim on any of those things, they find that
many are illusory and require payment further down on the value
chain. OS software lets end users decide what they are going to
pay for. There will be some things that are critical to the business
and are beyond the skills of the staff for which you will need to
buy a service from a vendor. There are other things that are woven
in the scope of the skilled staff you hire. You hire in to have the
work done. There are some things of no value anyway and if the
problem arises you will buy what you need. You can choose to
take a risk on those expenses

Why Open Source Won’t Fork the Java Platform

The Apache Software Foundation told Phipps that they looked at
their 10 year history and have not seen a single example of
someone forking an Apache code base and keeping going with the
fork without contributing code back in the end. Everyone either
gives up or gives back; there is no third way. And so the process
continues with more and more people deploying and improving,
developing the software, fixing bugs in it, and ultimately
contributing to the community, not because they want to give away
stuff, but because contributing back reduces their costs and allows
them to leverage the network effects of the community.

This helps me understand why James Gosling and other Java
luminaries say that they do not worry about open source leading to
forks in the Java platform. And why Ray Gans, Manager of the
OpenJDK Community for Java SE__ tells me that there is a
consensus among the developers he knows that other developers
do not want the platform to fork.

Question: Will – and Should – Open Source Developers be Paid by
Sun?

Jonathan Schwartz and Rich Green addressed this at the
CommunityOne keynote.

First Schwartz: “The folks who write the New York Times are their
employees, but on the Web the market for user-generated content
is growing. YouTube doesn’t employ any of the people who create
the content that they distribute across the world. So there is a
dichotomy between those who employ everyone who create their
content, and those who employ no one. We look at that and say
that it cannot be sustainable… At Sun we’ve gone from employing
all the people who create the content that Sun delivers to the
marketplace to a situation where open source developers make
contributions. We can’t expect everyone to always do this from the
benevolence of their hearts.”

Rich Green: “A lot of people are creating innovation that other
organizations are benefiting from. I think this is unfair and
unsustainable. It’s Robin Hood backwards. We are stealing from
the poor and making other people rich and this seems very bad.
Humans will not do this, nor should they have to. We have to look
closely at working with those who contribute to the open source
but whose contributions generate revenue for Sun and share that
wealth. I’m sure we are going to do that.”

So if Sun financially incentivizes open source developers, how will
that affect the community? We are in new territory. Sun is now the
biggest open source company in the world. What happens next?...

Upbeat Stats

Let me close with some more upbeat stats not included in previous
blogs:

2,100,000,000 Total Java enabled Handsets ; new shipments: 976
M by end of CY07
(Ovum, March 2007)

By the end of CY 2007, About 85% of all handsets shipping will
be shipping Java
(Ovum, March 2007)

2,500,000,000 total shipments of Java Cards

180 operators deploying Java-based content/services

4 Million Total Java-enabled Blu Ray devices

436,000,000 JRE downloads

8,750,000 Total Java SDK downloads (SE, EE, ME)

6,300,000 Java SE JDK downloads

720,000 Java SE JDK downloads/month

7,270,000 Million downloads of Java EE from July 04 - May 07

2,500,000 GlassFish downloads (includes RI/GlassFish)

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