Thursday, June 29, 2006

Making Javaref really successful

Javaref is the latest stab at making Javadocs useful – and of making a business out of utter lack of usability of the brainless default presentation that has haunted us for about a decade now.

Main ideas of Javaref:
  • search (that was a hard one to come up with ;-))
  • user profiles to restrict the libraries being searched (not especially way-out either)
Thats a nice start. Here are a few more ideas:

How about a mechanism that hocks into maven (which is used to build and document projects like magnolia). Such a plugin could use the maven-generated list of dependencies (and transitive dependencies) and automatically publish it as a project to Javaref (along with the source code or a link to the project's SVN code repository for Javaref to fetch at a later time).

The goal would be that its really easy for a project to have a profile at the Javaref site, and keep it up to date with each release. As a matter of fact, this should not be a profile (thats a user's domain) but a "project". Projects should be published and sharable (hey, viral, here we come!), and a user could have a list of projects he works on.

Now add a simple way to advertise the availablitity of the Javaref project at my project's site to drive my user base to your site (and give me back some of the advertisement cash you make in exchange) and you would have nailed it.

Come to think of it, if these guys don't built it, I might be tempted to build it myself ;-)

Monday, June 26, 2006

To unknown charters: Expedition Open Source

The last three years have seen preparations of the great expedition called "To unknown charters: Expedition Open Source".

Big ships have set sail long before us, heavy vessels with plenty of food to keep the crew happy. But the tides have changed, and big ships are of little use in shallow waters. Most will be sunken or their crew starved before they reach safe lands again. They set sail when the weather was high and the fish was plenty, but the winds have changed, and so did the fish.

The Magnolia has set sail, and we are picking up good speed - the winds seem benevolent to our undertaking. Our ship is small, fast and agile. Our crew is well trained and multi-disciplinary. Our equipment is versatile and our compass shows the direction of change, the winds of which fills our sails.

Less than a week ago we have spotted the biggest fish so far, and we netted it today. It may have been a small fish for the big vessels, but for the humble Magnolia, its a big catch, clearly showing that for the well-prepared, the exciting journey across the ocean is worth taking the risk.

May long she sail in happy waters!

TSS Java Symposium in Barcelona rocks!

I have been in Barcelona the last couple of days, attending the TSS Java Symposium - TSS's first in Europe. The event was excellent - the speakers were great: Simon Phipps keynote on the "The Zen of Free: Models for Understanding Open Source Software" alone was worth the trip to Barcelona. He really gets what is happening.

TSS Barcelona was also a great place to meet people, which is why I went there - I gave a talk about Magnolia with the goal of raising awareness in the Java community. I have met many interesting people and believe that my goal has been met – although it is always difficult to talk about a product/project at a technology conference.

It was a pleasure meeting all of you, and especially I'd like to say "Congrats" to Nitin and his team of pulling this thing off in just about 6 month's of preparation. I surely hope to be part of it again next year, maybe in Lissabon, Vienna or Prague?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wireless access at conferences costing an arm and a leg

I am in Barcelona right now at the TSS Java Symposium (and should prepare my talk instead of blogging) but here is a rant: while the location is certainly great, charging conference attendees for wireless access stinks. The three day pass for the conference is 1700 USD. The hotel is 280,- or so a night (But I stay in a cheaper place, we are an open-source startup, right?). On top of that, the wireless access is 17.40 €€ (22 USD) per day. Do the math: if 500 people want to access their email for the three days the conference lasts, they collectively pay 11'000 USD. Thats mad.

Besides, you can probably fly to Barcelona for the same amount you pay for a single day of wireless access. If you ask me, competition in the wirless space is not working correctly, or else it could not be so expensive.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

3.0 is out the door, and I am in Barcelona

We released Magnolia 3.0 today, and simultaneously migrated our website. The new website is awesome if I may say so myself, of course created with the new Template Designer we ship as part of the Enterprise Edition.

The site is featuring on its homepage a photo I did 2 years ago on the other side of the world. (guess which one ;-))

I have said so many things about Magnolia 3.0 on (about 100 pages of content currently published that I have written) that I won't repeat anything here. Well, one thing maybe: its featuring John's OpenWFE - this is a big step, the foundation of a system that will be amazingly in its applications. We have done many interesting things with it in the last 2 years, and I am very happy to see it move into Magnolia. Thank you John!

Finally, amongst all the crazyness, I flew to Barcelona right in the middle of the release, posting the news to all the web from my hotel room now. I'll be presenting Magnolia at the TSS Java Symposium - see you there!

Monday, June 05, 2006


Well. If you ever read my enthusiastic endorsement of Sala on LinkedIn you could have known. He is the guy that not only has great ideas, but he also follows up on them. I have watched his idea from the day one (no, I did not buy). It was always clear that there are two options - either it will explode, or it will sooner or later be irrelevant. Well, explode it did. The last time I visited the site before tonight - roughly two weeks ago - he had sold about 64 paintings. As I am writing this, 522 are sold, and I would not be astonished if the rest is gone withing 24 hours - after all, there is apparently a BBC interview coming up.

All of this is no coincidence, if you reads Sala's blog (one of his blogs, that is) you can very much understand how one thing adds to another. There was the funny death ad he copied from a newspaper that ended up on boingboing. And the applet he wrote to visualize Websites that attracted more than 100'000 unique visitors in just 4 days. Whatever Sala does is great.

Well, I am happy that its working out for Sala. After all, he was the person that wrote the first GUI of Magnolia and thus helped lay the foundation for its success.

I used his applet to visualize - very nice, I like visualization tools (right, John?)

Friday, June 02, 2006


After many years with obinary at Binningerstrasse 15, we move on. B15 was a great place in many (though not all) respects, and many things will be remembered long after we have left. I recall one meeting with all of the top executives of a large retailer (early 2000) where Pascal was presenting a solution downstairs (then still Switzerland's smallest cinema) while I was frantically hacking it together upstairs. Or the time when Cyrill fell through the roof when trying to install the server room air conditioning (luckily nothing happened to him). The neighbours statement "I knew this would happen, this is already the third time" - still makes us wonder why she did not say so before Cyrill fell through the roof. The parties we had after we took over the cinema-come-jazz-club - surely many will remember the Magnolia 2.0 release party! At some time we even rented a second office in the front house on the forth floor. A web cam connection to see what was happening downstairs resulted in a funny movie still out somewhere - Josh called downstairs about 10 times a day just to see them pick up the phone.

Well, its time to say goodbye. And about time. We spend the last two months in the stables ( a former video studio, see the background blue box) as an interims office - no windows. All in one room. Thats because we had to move out of the main room (see deserted picture above) before we could move into our new offices.

This is a rare foto by the way - it shows Philipp, Leonie and Daniel. Leonie is now in Rome - and Daniel has only worked a very short time at obinary.

Well, we moved today. Servers are up and running (thanks Michi and Pascal!), all communication system live (thanks Kurt!), the coffee machine is working (thanks to Philipp, I assume - Sameer usually drinks tea) and the table soccer has found a new home (thanks Fröde!).

Time to say hello to our new place in Maiengasse 30 that already feels so much better! Lights! Action! Maiengasse 30 - Magnolia 3.0. Here we come.

Now all we need is better weather to open up these large barn doors and enjoy amazing tranquility in the center of Basel.