Category Archives: Open source

Open source projects of note

About open community – a tale of two tools

When you take a step back from a community for spell after being in the thick of it for some time, it’s interesting to see what you find upon return.

In this case, I’m referring to the .NET community and there are two stories that I want to highlight:

  • Documentation automation
  • Decompilation

Town of NDoc

Once upon a time, there was NDoc, a convenient tool to help developers produce reference-level documentation for their .NET assemblies and solutions.

A force from the Pacific Northwest determined that there was much value in NDoc, and Sandcastle was born. (Note: The chapter on NIH isn’t covered here, nor are the alleged actions of an individual in the NDoc “community.”)

Sandcastle was more about the command line than NDoc, and eventually Sandcastle Help File Builder arose:

Sandcastle was originally created by Microsoft back in 2006. The last official release from Microsoft occurred in June 2010. Until October 2012, it was hosted at the Sandcastle project site on CodePlex. In October 2012, Microsoft officially declared that they were ceasing support and development of Sandcastle. The Sandcastle tools have been merged into the Sandcastle Help File Builder project and all future development and support for them will be handled at this project site. The Sandcastle tools themselves remain separate from and have no dependency on the help file builder. As such, they can be used in a standalone fashion with your own scripts and build tools if that is your preference.

Assuming that Kevin Downs and others who originally contributed to NDoc are happily pursuing new ventures (and satisfied to see their initial efforts validated by SHFB et al), it seems like documentation automation is alive and well in the .NET community.

City of .NET Reflector

Once upon a time, Lutz Roeder authored and maintained the most excellent .NET Reflector decompilation tool for the .NET developer community. At its prime, I didn’t know a .NET developer who wasn’t actively using the tool and who wouldn’t readily nominate Lutz for knighthood.

But then .NET Reflector’s future changed

Red Gate will continue to provide the free community version…

Well, until they didn’t!

Other than referencing ZDnet’s coverage at the time, I’ll leave you to Google the rest of the flames that resulted from this decision. Suffice it to say that it got ugly, and the $35 price is now no less than $95 and as high as $195.

The severe curve in price hikes tends to indicate a sharp drop in demand. Furthermore, the original Reflector add-ins portal seems to have been abandoned, which is a shame–lots of solid contributions were made therein that I use to leverage frequently (er, once upon a time)…

So, in the face of a tool that was free but now costs almost a benjamin for the basic version, what to do?

Two potential alternatives quickly present themselves: Telerik JustDecompile and JetBrains dotPeek. Let’s start with dotPeek

I’ve had some experience working with JetBrains in the past to establish a more open stance. Unfortunately, that didn’t result in any great or lasting success:

It’s interesting to see other potential similarities, too, between the Omea progression and the dotPeek progression. For example, JetBrains originally realized Omea by hiring Dmitry Jemerov who authored Syndirella–ironically an open source project. More recently, the first dotPeek plug-in author, Matt Ellis joined JetBrains as a .NET development tools evangelist. Assembly list support is already baked into dotPeek 1.0 directly.

As I remarked on Twitter, I sincerely hope that JetBrains has embraced open development for dotPeek; otherwise, I fear reactions to dotPeek such as this one for Omea.

Switching to JustDecompile, one of my first (positive community-oriented) impressions came from reading the (timely) comments on this blog post.

Even the blog’s first criticism–needs registration for download–has been addressed. I agree that this was a bit heavy-handed, but now you can download JustDecompile straightaway and only provide/create account information if you want support for the free tool (during JustDecompile installation).

Telerik has posted two, free plugins, which installed easily (after I realized that you have to expand the .sflb files for JustDecompile to find the entry points as otherwise instructed). (Telerik, please update your instructions to make this clear.)

Time will tell if the .NET community will rally around this tool by submitting new plugins. It’s clear that Telerik is listening to the community it has (e.g. this feature came directly from the UserVoice site for JustDecompile), and that is a good start.

I wonder if things would have worked out differently if GitHub had been around at the time the original transitions for .NET Reflector and NDoc had occurred. (Lutz is on GitHub, just not including .NET Reflector due to its aforementioned transfer.)

Is it too late for .NET decompilation to become truly open, supported by a vibrant community?

In the tale of two tools, the formative city of decompilation could take some cues from the happy town of documentation.

Day community now a part of Adobe Enterprise Café

A little over a month ago, I encouraged my readers–many new from the Day Software (now Adobe) community via the Ignite conference in Berlin–to download and leverage Adobe Enterprise Café.

…the Café is hard at work to integrate the Day community as well. However, you don’t need to wait for that new version of Café; you can install Café today and when the Day community is integrated, you’ll receive that update the next time you launch the Adobe AIR application.

Hopefully you’re already receiving value from Café. If you held out for the Day community integration with Café, that day has arrived.

Presenting Adobe Enterprise Café 1.6!

Update 7/29/2011: Now that the Adobe® Digital Enterprise Platform (ADEP) has been announced, I recommend that you upgrade to Adobe Enterprise Café 1.8, which features a new ADEP community that is the combination of the previous LiveCycle and Day Communities.

Adobe® Digital Enterprise Platform community within Adobe Enterprise Café (since v1.8)

For technical insights on ADEP, please follow the ADEP category and/or ADEP tag herein. Thanks.

Adobe, Day and open development

Thanks to everyone at Adobe MAX 2010 who came to the session that David Nuescheler, Roy Fielding and I presented. If you weren’t able to attend our session, it’s provided below.

Roy kicked off the discussion by talking about open development and how open development is critical to architecture. David followed Roy by showing how open development principles have been powerfully applied at Day to its products like CQ5, providing live demonstrations to our audience. I wrapped up this discussion by relating WCM and Day content infrastructure (e.g. Sling and CRX) to Adobe’s CEM platform and specifically to LiveCycle RIA. (For more detail on LiveCycle RIA and other aspects of the LiveCycle ES3 release, which is currently under development, please see my previous post.)

In order to keep the conversation going, I’ve uploaded this presentation as follows:

Update 11/5/2010: You can now watch and listen to this MAX session online (i.e. in synchronized fashion).

Update 12/3/2010: Jayan has done a nice job of rounding up LiveCycle-flavored MAX sessions, including this one, here.

Upcoming speaking engagements

Conferences have always been about networking and when you have the privilege to speak at a conference it’s about engaging with your audience, listening to feedback and sharing ideas.

In the next several weeks, I’ve been given the opportunity to speak at two different venues: Adobe's annual MAX conference and Day Software's Ignite conference. This will be my first time speaking at either venue, and I’m really looking forward to the experiences.

So, if you’re in Chicago, Los Angeles or Berlin and want to learn more about Adobe’s focus on customer experience, I encourage you to take advantage of the following opportunities:

  1. When Content Meets Applications, October 14, 2010, Day Ignite Chicago 2010
         Come hear how the combination of Adobe and Day will help you realize greater customer experiences through contextually agile content and applications that have been previously managed separately.
         Speakers: Alex Choy, VP of Engineering and Technical Marketing, LiveCycle, & Craig Randall, Principal Scientist, Adobe
  2. Realizing Great Customer Experiences with LiveCycle ES Next, October 25, 2010, Adobe MAX 2010 (repeated on 10/27/2010)
         Hear how focusing on user experience can improve the value of the enterprise applications you deliver. Also learn about architectural changes in the next release of Adobe LiveCycle Enterprise Suite as well as new features in servers, client runtimes, and tools that will allow you to build, deploy, and measure excellent customer experiences.
         Speaker: Craig Randall, Principal Scientist, Adobe
  3. Strengthening Adobe’s Enterprise Platform with Day Software and Open Development, October 25, 2010, Adobe MAX 2010
         Learn how the combination of Day’s leading web solutions and Adobe’s enterprise portfolio provides a unique opportunity to developers: a unified web content and application delivery platform. By introducing web content management, digital asset management, and social collaboration to Adobe’s product portfolio, the combination offers developers an impressive set of capabilities to create, manage, distribute, and monetize content while delivering the best experience possible. Learn why open development is the cornerstone of Day’s R&D strategy for web content management and how it can help software development organizations design more adaptive systems and leverage the power of virtual communities.
         Speakers: David Nuescheler, CTO, Day Software, Roy Fielding, Chief Scientist, Day Software, & Craig Randall, Principal Scientist, Adobe
  4. When Content Meets Applications, November 3, 2010, Day Ignite Berlin 2010
         Come hear how the combination of Adobe and Day will help you realize greater customer experiences through contextually agile content and applications that have been previously managed separately.
         Speakers: Alex Choy, VP of Engineering and Technical Marketing, LiveCycle & Craig Randall, Principal Scientist, Adobe

See you there! Otherwise, check back later for updates online. Cheers.

Update on 10/14/2010: The presentation for #1, above, is now available here.

Update on 10/27/2010: The presentation for #2, above, is now available here.

Update on 10/29/2010: The presentation for #3, above, is now available here.

Update on 11/3/2010: The presentation for #4, above, is now available here.

Adobe, Customer Experience Management and Day Software

Update 10/28/2010: Adobe successfully completes its acquisition of Day Software. Day will operate as a new product line within Adobe’s Digital Enterprise Solutions Business Unit, joining Acrobat, Connect and LiveCycle. Welcome to all my new teammates! :-)

Adobe has just announced a definitive agreement stipulating its intent to acquire Day Software. This acquisition will bolster Adobe’s leadership in Customer Experience Management, bringing Day’s industry-leading Web Content Management, Digital Asset Management and Social Collaboration applications, better known collectively as CQ, and Web scale content application infrastructure (CRX) together with Adobe’s LiveCycle, Connect and other enterprise software offerings–not to mention Adobe’s Flash Platform and industry-leading tools for creative professionals.

There is plenty to talk about in terms of how deeply aligned this acquisition is architecturally, technically and in terms of shared vision, and I plan to use this space to go into more of these details over time (e.g. synergies between Day’s targeting and optimization and Adobe Omniture‘s capabilities). However, I’m equally excited by the people involved here.

I’m looking forward to shortly being able to call folks like David Nuescheler, Kevin Cochrane and Roy T. Fielding not just industry colleagues but fellow Adobe employees. Welcome to Adobe, Day Software!

For more on Adobe’s approach to superior customer experience, I encourage you to subscribe to and/or follow @AdobeCEM.

Update 7/28/2010: The Web is all a-buzz about this acquisition, and I would say it’s with good reason. Simply put: customer experience wins and therefore customers win, which means that businesses embracing Adobe CEM increase their own profitability.

Since my brief post above, Adobe has posted a press release and FAQ about the acquisition. Rob Tarkoff, SVP and GM of Adobe’s Digital Enterprise Solutions Business Unit (or DESBU) has also posted his thoughts, offering some key takeaways to consider from this acquisition.