Thursday, February 28, 2008

MuleCon 2008: Last day for early birds

For those of you who Ride the Mule or are thinking you might want to, We are holding our 2nd MuleCon in San Francisco. It's a two day event starting on the 1st April (a.k.a. April Mules Day :) ). Today is the last day for early bird registration.

We already have registrants flying in from Japan, Europe (Norway is the furthest so far) and the US. It's a great chance to hear about what we have in the works for 2008, hear some great customer experiences (here are some from last year) and to meet the whole Mule team in person (Yes, we still have folks in 9 countries, No, it hasn't been that easy to manage but, Yes the team is awesome and we wouldn't have it any other way).
I'm really looking forward to catching up with many Mule users and having a beer or three.

Also, If you mention this blog you’ll get an extra $50 discount. Just email mulecon2008(a) or call +1-415-229-2065. Not bad, eh?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mule Galaxy 1.0-beta2 is out and looks great!

Dan and Andrew P. have done a great job on the latest release of Galaxy. For those who don’t know Galaxy is a SOA Governance platform and Registry. Up till now we’ve been focusing on Artifact management and design time governance, but we’ll be shifting gears now the core API is looking solid. In the latest release –

  • Improved Atom Publishing Protocol API. You can now create/delete workspaces, edit artifact metadata, edit artifact lifecycle information, and more.
  • Mule NetBoot. With Mule NetBoot you can load a complete Mule instance directly from the repository and discover configurations in the repository as well!
  • Maven publishing plugin, which allows you to easily publish applications and resources to the repository.
  • XML Schema indexing support
  • Additional Mule artifact policies.
  • Improved web application experience.
I’m really chuffed with Mule NetBoot and the Maven integration features. Dan has blogged more details here. I’m currently working on a presentation for TSSJS Las Vegas that will demo Building an ESB using Mule and Galaxy that will demonstrate some of these features and more.

Galaxy is hosted on MuleForge and you can take it for a test drive now.

My iPhone is bugging me

This has been a long time coming. I go through this with every phone; I buy it, I am blinded by its flashy gizmos then I start picking at it. The difference with the iPhone is that it’s taken me about 6 months to get to the point where I feel compelled to complain, whereas it usually takes about 6 days. If I’m honest, I’ve been fully aware of the limitations of the iPhone from day one, but I was so impressed with the new touchy-feely-ness with it that I blocked out any bad thoughts. So here are the things that bug me most –

  1. There is no cut 'n’ paste feature. Why not? I have no idea. It seems so fundamental to have this feature in this type of phone.
  2. Where is my To Do list? I need a to-do list when I’m out and about. I think of things while waiting in queues, on trains or even when I wake up at night. These need to be synchronized with Mac Mail.
  3. I really want an off-line RSS reader. I don’t want to have to connect to the internet while roaming if I can avoid it, yet I have plenty of time to catch up on blogs while on trains, waiting in more queues, etc.
  4. There is no pocket Word, Excel or PowerPoint. You can read these files. Now I finally have a screen big enough to edit files but I don't have the capability.
  5. I can't cache YouTube movies. This means that if I do bookmark anything I have to download it every time I watch it. This is fine in the US where you can get fixed data plans, but don't try this at home if you're in Europe.
  6. The SMS application is pretty limited. I can't have distribution groups, forward txts or call phone numbers in txts. There is a community SMS application that gives you most of this and more, but I really expect it to come from Apple.
  7. I don’t like being tied to a network. I have different SIM cards for different countries, which means I either have to carry around 2 phones (that’s sooo 2005) or I have to unlock the phone.
  8. I wish the iPhone strategy were based on a more open platform. I do think it’s a good idea for Apple to govern the applications that published for the iPhone, but as a consumer I would prefer to have a choice to only install Apple approved software or use 3rd party applications. It feels a bit like Microsoft all over again.
I should point out that the really great thing about the iPhone is that it has redefined how we can interact with our phones and is responsible for raising the bar of what we expect from our phones in terms of design and technology. I am still a huge fan, but I need these things fixed if I am going to continue to swoon over this baby.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Elastic Server: Virtual Goodness

CohesiveFT have been busy building out an online infrastructure for building applications for virtualized environments. What does that mean? Well, you can jump on their Elastic Server On demand (ESOD) site and build an application from a growing list of components, then build a virtual image that can either be directly deployed to EC2 (very cool) or you can download the image and run it on VMWare, XEN or Parallels.
You can then share your applications with other users and the ESOD site gives you a nice interface where you can view/download other applications you have built. I find the interface is really nice to use.
I’ve played with this in the past, but their latest release really caught my attention because you can now upload your own components. There are a number of immediate uses that come to mind –

  1. At MuleSource we have built out a load of QA infrastructure so that we can test Mule in different environments as part of our Mule Enterprise product. Building and maintaining this infrastructure is a hassle and a perfect candidate for virtualization.
  2. We have to use a similar infrastructure PSR testing. But since performance testing is often driven by what the customer asks for, we have to customise the test suite per customer.
  3. Demo applications. We have a growing number of products at MuleSource, and it’s becoming more and more important to demonstrate how our products all work together. Having something like ESOD as a tool for our sales guys would really help enable them in the field and also gives us a way to manage a growing catalog of demos.
One of the coolest features, for me at least, is that they have a notion of Provisioning Portals and they have a portal especially for creating Mule applications. Give it a go!

Using ESOD is like buying a computer from Dell (though I switched to the Mac 4 years ago and never looked back). You select your base unit (operating system and virtualization platform) then you pick and choose the components you want installed on it. Then once you’re done you’re given a download link - much better than waiting for Dell to screw up your order.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

TripIt Rocks!

If like me you travel a lot, you'll find invaluable. It's so simple, all you do is send your flight reservation details emails, hotel confirmation emails, car reservation emails, etc to and they create a full itinerary for you. You don't even need to sign up since you get an account created automatically based on you email address. Then you will be emailed back saying that your itinerary is available with all your flight, hotel and car information, weather reports for the locations you'll be in and directions to the hotel or airport if you need them. Fantastic!

What I'd really like to see now is integration with Dopplr so that my trips would be automatically shared with my network.

Another awesome feature would be an iCal feed for my account that contained all my travel information, I could subscribe to that and sync it to my phone. Sorted.

UPDATE: I spoke too soon, They already have the iCal feature. Top stuff. Now the only thing missing is a reminder 24 hours before my flight to check-in online.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Erlang on OS X

I've been meaning to take RabbitMQ for a drive. It's message broker that has been built around the AMQP standard. Oh, and its written in Erlang. I've been wanting to try it out for quite a while, but I always considered the extra hop of setting up Erlang a barrier that I'd need to set aside a chunk of time to get over. Well I'm happy to say I was wrong, and the set up is a breeze (thanks to some pointers from Tony at LShift).

$ mkdir build
$ cd build
$ wget
$ tar -zxvf otp_src_R11B-5.tar.gz
$ cd otp_src_R11B-5
$ ./configure --prefix=/opt/erlang
$ make
$ sudo make install
$ sudo ln -s /opt/erlang/bin/* /usr/local/bin/.
Note that wget doesn't ship with OS X but you can get it from Darwin ports.

I'll blog some more about RabbitMQ later, but so far it looks great.

Monday, February 11, 2008

D is the new C?

Mary J Foley at ZDNet recently announced Microsoft's plans for a new programming language 'D' that will be a key component to Microsoft's Olso technology strategy. She writes:
D will be a declarative language aimed at non-developers, and will be based on eXtensible Application Markup Language (XAML), sources, who asked not to be named, said.
I cringe when I hear about solutions for difficult problems being targeted at those who do not understand the inherent complexities. Why should non-developers be tasked to build an SOA application in the first place. Well from 30,000 feet this sounds like a great idea, "lets empower the people who understand the business to deliver the technology that with run the business".

There are no shortage of frameworks/platforms that take this approach. BEA's AquaLogic ESB is (was?) targeted at the Business Analyst. The Same for CapeClear, who tried to build an ESB on top of BPEL since the business should be viewed as a set of processes.

You learn fairly quickly that this theory does not play into practice since business processes and technology do not map well with each other. No matter how well defined the business processes are or how brilliant the software is you need good developers in between to drive a solid architecture, write software and configure things.

The other issues with these abstracted environments for non-developers is that you almost always need to change some behavioural or functional aspect of the generated code so suit your application environment. For many point n' click tools this is often difficult and sometimes impossible, but invariably will require a real developer to figure out.

I think initiatives such as Microsoft's 'D' do have a lot of value. While I doubt they will define the one-size-fits-all service language (it's based on XAML after all, yuk), there will be some great new ideas in there that can be re-used and improved on other platforms. I'll be watching them.