Thursday, September 28, 2006

Magnolia Geek.Meet 2006

Last weekend saw the first ever Magnolia Geek.Meet, and it was a great event. We gathered in Mission21, a large protestant mission building that has 15'000 m2 of park around it and rents away meeting rooms, provides the catering and even is a hotel.

Attendees were Nico (Japan), Fabrizio (Italy), Chris Miner (Berlin), Greg (Brussels), Ralf (Stuttgart), Philipp, Sameer & myself, plus Pascal who came to say hi in the beginning & bye at the end.

I moderated the event. After a quick intro of who is who in Magnolia community-land, we started brainstorming. All topics then were voted for – each participant had 4 votes. We then proceeded to discuss the 4 main topics for roughly 90 minutes each, plus breaks. Rinse and repeat on Sunday.

Some of the big issues include
  1. Beanification (a word that stuck after initial laughter) - meaning: create more classes (beans), which means they can be documented and even tested (!)
  2. Introduction of Spring for various usages, including Spring Remoting (Fabrizio came up with a Spring way of doing basically any topic we discussed except documentation :-))
  3. GUI toolkit/AJAX framework/XML-RPC/XForms etc - the whole world of what we could change with respect to technologies used today. When we started with Magnolia there was no Ajax, so we wrote our own. Today many options exist. Decoupling of the admin interface. Possibly use Spring remoting for intra-application communication (Think: GUI talks to core) and Inter-Magnolia communication. Provide alternate ways of accessing the content (Webservices, CLI)
  4. Workflow Future: now that we have the basis, it is becoming clear that Magnolia's declarative dialog creation + openwfe and storage of workitems in JCR make it very tempting to create form & workflow-based front-end applications. What a great tool for SI's.
  5. Dialog-Refactoring - introduction of JSF for dialogs and trees etc.
  6. WebDAV for access of DMS through client file system browsers (Niko and Sameer start working on it, expect it working before the year is over)
  7. lots more (I'll update this when I have my notes around)
We decided to have more releases on a shorter time frame with well defined major tasks (basically, each topic we discussed will be the focus of a single release). Now that Philipp has finally finished the build mechanism in maven to do a complete distribution (i.e. we can hit "build" and get readily packaged everythings - from wars, to bundled tomcats, community edition, modules... whatever) it is much less work to actually prepare a release. We expect to have dot-releases (3.1, 3.2 ...) every 2-4 months now.

Also we went out Saturday night in Basel, had dinner at the Hasenburg (Rösti) and drinks at the Des'Arts (a bar right below Day's headquarter).

Everybody liked the event and I guess there will be a Geek.Meet '07. Expect the discussions to result in a roadmap of versions, available via jira any day now.

And finally some impressions for those that had to spend the weekend with Japanese girls at Game shows in Tokyo or went sailing at the baltic sea (who can blame you?).


(more photos)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New iTunes

I was probably the first guy back in highschool that had a walkman. I was a musician back then, having my own rock band, and music was what was surrounding me day and night, so to be able to listen to music on the go was revolutionary and elevating.

Being interested in music, I loved a web site that was publishing all song lyrics ( a community effort). What a great resource for quotes. Needless to say, it was shutdown soon enough by the music industry because of "copyright issues". I mean, come on "Love love me do, you know I love you" - I am not allowed to post this to a website?

Later, my company bought every employee a first generation iPod right when they were announced, back at the time that was a 11k CHF investment for us. I still got mine, by the way, but added Shuffle, a Nano and a Mini along the way. Needless to say, I have used iTunes since its very first day, and love it.

Now its already release 7 for iTunes. Congratulations. One of the great things is a new feature that lets you flip through your collection. You need the album artwork for that, and the first thing I did was to click the "fetch artwork" menu item. It works quite well, but I was wondering how they managed to convince the record industry to make them available.

Turns out they did not, or at least not in all cases. Several albums that are available in the store did not return their artwork. When you search for the album in the store, the artwork shows up, but in the iTunes cover area (lower left corner) it says "artwork available when purchased". Try it with "intensive care" by Robby Williams as a certainly popular example.

Steve (Jobs) does a fantastic job of bridging the gap between consumer's reality and that of the recording industry. But some things never change, right? I guess I have to use the old-fashioned approach and manually copy the album artwork for Robby Williams from some website like Amazon. Until then, the likelihood that I will listen to Robby is diminished due to the fact that his cover is empty when I flip through the 2652 songs I currently have on my laptop.

Who exactly has gained what by not releasing the album artwork?