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Aerith is free!

Posted by rbair on June 28, 2006 at 2:00 PM PDT

The Aerith source code has just been released to the project. With this milestone I thought I'd just blog a bit about the backstory that went into Aerith. Hopefully, by the time you're done reading this, you won't stone us for some pretty hacked up code.

Aerith was a really fun project to work on. We sort of had an idea for what we wanted to do for JavaOne. We had a lot of fun doing the Joplin music player the year before and really wanted to get back up on stage this year with something even cooler. Romain had a lot of demos lying around. The client group had this sweet intro screen idea and Romain had already mocked up a UI that would form the basis of the Aerith look.

Every year James Gosling holds a kind of "tryouts" for keynote demos. We didn't know when those tryouts would be held, so we sent a few emails to find out. What we found was that we had about a week to get the demo finished before the tryouts. I was at home at the time and had to say goodbye to the wife and kid for the next few days.

Romain, Josh and I setup a war room in one of the conference rooms here on campus. As all good war rooms, ours was stocked with food, liquid nourishment (water for me, on a diet :-)), and pizza (so much for the diet). Oh, and chocolate cake. No "Romain" war room is complete without chocolate cake.

In three days of intense coding (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Usually about 18 hours+ each day) we wrote the entire map viewer and editor, and part of the applet. The original applet contained only the 3d "twinkle" code. (For those familiar with Romain's blog, Twinkle is one of the projects he released that we reused for this demo). With that, the demo was more or less feature complete. Later that week I added what we called the "Indiana Jones" viewer in the applet. Otherwise, bugfixes occupied our time. And endless tweaks to get things up to Romains standards.

It was also a lot of fun to tryout for James' keynote and finally make it into Jeff Jackson's keynote on Tuesday morning. I always have a blast at JavaOne, and love getting up on stage. Even if I am boring to watch :-).

The moral of this story (if there is one, besides diet's and war rooms not getting along so well) is that a sizeable portion of the Aerith code is very, very raw. It wasn't written as a "best practices" application, or to be maintained. It has a lot of bugs, is difficult to setup, needs a better build script, and nobody knows how the 3d stuff works besides Romain.

It was written to show off what is possible with Swing/Java. It was written to demo well. And it was written because it was fun to do. I think in all three respects it was a home run. Especially the last one: it was a lot of fun.

I think there is a great deal of potential in Aerith as a consumer application. We're looking for individuals who want to move Aerith to the next level. I'd be stoked to see it deployed and working with real people's data in real world situations. That'd really make my day.

So, this makes 3 blogs in 3 days. If I keep this up, I'll have my yearly quota down by the end of the week!

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