Some adventures in road and trail running.
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Friday, March 21, 2008

EclipseCon 2008 Wrapup: It's all about Collaboration

What hit me today as I was biking into work after 4 days at EclipseCon was the collaboration undercurrent running throughout the conference.

Our goal in Jazz is to have a platform designed to be team first and allow smooth and seamless collaboration with your team members and with your artifacts. What does it mean to collaborate with your artifacts? For me this means I can have something like a build result communicate all about itself:
  • who contributed
  • why they contributed
  • when they contributed
  • what they contributed
As well, the build result allows me to exactly reconstitute the state that existed for exploration of any issue. Same goes for the Jazz process enactment. We have to make it easy for the user to explore and understand, to collaborate, with the team process. The team advisor is one of mechanisms for this communication of process.

And it is not just about collaborating with your fellow team mates or work artifacts. It is also about collaborating with your clients and customers. The Eclipse work for p2 and e4 proves this point.

From Pascal Rapicault's talk p2 will make it easier for consumers to discover and install. p2 will make it easier for developers to share their work.

e4 will help to extend Eclipse into new domains beyond the IDE space. People who never have used an IDE and will never use an IDE. These same people understand the web interface. Reuse of our code for a web client just makes sense. We can provide a web client experience, whether it be the same or different experience from a desktop client without duplication of all the effort. The required tooling to achieve this nirvana will be a great addition to the Eclipse tool set. And just the process of creating e4 will necessitate Eclipse and the Eclipse process embracing collaboration at a new level.

Easing collaboration also helps to enable what I am calling mercenary programming. John Wiegand's glimpse into the future was validated via Sam Ramji's announcement of Microsoft supporting / sponsoring Eclipse development but with no interest of having its own committers. To me this means paying committers to wade in and tackle your problems. Short lived and dynamic teams composed of globally distributed members. This just screams for the need of tools like Jazz and beyond. Kevin McGuire and Tim Wagner mentioned the evolution of a team as a driver for trends in UI design and interaction as well.
Also from Sam's talk on Wednesday, we "offend any type of developer at your own peril". If you make it hard for people to collaborate with you, this would seem to be some type of insult don't you think?

Cory Doctorow continued the theme where a key point of his presentation was how we have extended and improved the capabilities of the individual. We have become superhuman as a result of pervasive collaboration and availability of information. Cory also proposed that the ease of collaboration within a company will decide its success. Collaboration cost is no longer a factor with it being a close approximation of zero. This was echoed by the ECF talk where Scott Lewis stated that we need collaboration to work on a system that is outside of the understanding of one person. I think that describes most systems we all work on. The tools just need to keep improving the support for this free interaction and productivity boost.

Finally, I don't think the strong desire for people to come to conferences such as EclipseCon indicates a deficiency of our tools to allow us to collaborate. The tools and the work enable the day to day interactions but I hope we will always crave the face to face :-)
I know I look forward to next year.

2 comments:

Ed Merks said...

Great post. As the technology for collaboration improves, the need for face-to-face interaction will diminish. But we're all human, and if we stop desiring face-to-face interactions entirely, it will be a scary world indeed. I hope to see many new and familiar faces at EclipseCon next year, especially yours!

olga said...

So the runs were a success, glad to hear it! What a little (rather a lot) of enthusiasm will do:)