How Apache *really* works

How much do you know about the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) and the many Apache projects we host? Did you know we’re holding our annual Members meeting to elect our board of directors and new Members in just a few days?

I’m often surprised by the variety of basic questions and misunderstandings I hear in the software world about how the ASF really works. We’ve written plenty of documentation about the Apache Way and our governance, but let’s try a different approach. I’d like to interview myself to try to explain some things. Continue reading How Apache *really* works

Three key elements defining any open source project

Open source has come a long way in the past 30 years and is entering the consciousness of most modern cultures. When thinking of open source projects, people categorize them several ways: governance structure, type of product platform, programming language, utility, technical details (language written in), industry sponsored or fully independent, and more.

But what truly defines any open source project, making it a unique entity different from all other open source projects? I would propose that there are three key elements of any open source project that frame, define, and differentiate that project from all others: the code, the community, and the brand.

Continue reading Three key elements defining any open source project

It’s Groovy to join a Foundation

The contributors behind the awesome Groovy project are looking for a new home. It’s bad news that the project and some of its core contributors will no longer be sponsored (paid for) by Pivotal, but it’s great that the core contributors are organized and serious about moving their project to an existing Foundation.

As a long time Apache Member (among other things), I have a few suggestions for the Groovy community.

Continue reading It’s Groovy to join a Foundation

ApacheCon Europe 2014 Blog Roundup

As our intrepid conference master and ASF’s EVP Rich Bowen Notes in the Margin,
we recently held a spectacular 24th ApacheCon at the beautiful
Corinthia Hotel in Budapest, Hungary – followed by the CloudStackCollab
conference focused on the fast-growing Apache CloudStack project.

Rich, LinuxFoundation production staff, and an array of Apache volunteers put
together a great set of talks with some very focused
tracks on specific days – both for technology as well as for community
and business interests around Apache projects. As Rich notes: if your are an
Apache committer and want to speak, or see your project represented at
the next ApacheCon US April 13-17th, 2015, in Austin, Texas then sign up to help organize!

Here’s a roundup of Apache folk’s blogs about the event:

Unfortunately we don’t have video for talks this year. That means that folks
who couldn’t attend are missing out on an inspiring keynote from this year’s
conference: David Nalley talking about the Value Of The ASF. This is one
of those talks where the slides don’t make sense without hearing about it.
David came up with various figures representing the “value” of the code that
all Apache projects provide – and they’re massive numbers. More importantly,
the larger value of the ASF is the proven Apache Way of organizing
large-scale, long-lived collaborative activities between heterogeneous
groups of individuals – and making it work in a way that allows companies to
invest their resources (employee time and sponsorship) without impinging on
the independent governance of Apache projects.

Matching our inspiring talks was the friendliness of the
staff at the beautiful Corinthia Hotel Budapest, along with the beauty, history,
and warmth of the city of Budapest and the people of Hungary. A week alone
is not enough to see the sights of the city, and it’s no where near long
enough to enjoy all the wonderful food and drink there! Here’s hoping that we’ll
be able to come back next year!

Thanks to the Apache CloudStack community!

Apache CloudStack graduated to become a top level project at the ASF last month, and a number of community members have been blogging about their experience. CloudStack started with a company called Cloud.com, was purchased by Citrix, and then was submitted to the Apache Incubator last year to now become a full Apache project.

Along with the great CloudStack software that Apache can now provide that allows you to manage your own public or private IaaS clouds, the Apache community has gained a great new community of committers, users, and PMC members.

In reading the several blog posts by key CloudStack contributors, I reminded myself that kudos were in order as well.

Having watched Citrix bring their code and developers to the Apache Incubator, and having watched (and commented on and answered many questions from!) the podling as it grew it’s community and graduated, I’ve been struck by how well the core Citrix contributors and their many other participants really took to the Apache Way.

Both Citrix as an organization (which employs some of the CloudStack committers), and especially the many contributors to the CloudStack project took the incubation process seriously, and have really gone above and beyond to ensure their podling proposal and march to graduation have been about Apache CloudStack, as well as being about an inclusive and meritocratic project.

The desire to get things “right” at Apache was clear in everything the CloudStack community did, and the end result looks to be an incredibly strong project that’s quickly gathering developers from a wide variety of vendors and users. Part of this growth is about the great technology; but a lot is due to the helpful and welcoming face that the CloudStack committers put on their project.

We’ve had a lot of great projects, and many great communities come to the Apache Incubator; there are a lot of people to thank across the tremendous spectrum of no-charge software that the ASF provides for the public good. But I just wanted to mention the extra effort the CloudStack community put into fully embracing the Apache Way. Good job, and thanks!

Ask Me about FREE Apache Contributor buttons!

Back once again at ApacheCon, I’ll be giving out free Apache “Contributor” feather buttons. All you have to do to get your button is let me know that you’ve donated funds to the Apache Software Foundation. Any amount qualifies for your free button!

If you’re interested in sponsoring the ASF at a higher level, we’d love that too, and I might have a bunch of buttons for you!

You may also see a number of people at ApacheCon featuring giant “Ask Me!” buttons with the Apache feather on them. Please – follow directions, and ask us your questions! A number of knowledgeable members are wearing these buttons, and will be happy to answer your questions about what the larger ASF is all about, and why the organization behind all of our great projects is also important to support.

For those who can’t make it to ApacheCon, please feel free to contact me offline or on the mailing list for your button.

Reminder: Apache and the feather logo are trademarks of The Apache Software Foundation, along with the names of our many projects – and should be used with respect both for the ASF as a whole and for the many committers in our project communities.

Congratulations to six new Apache projects!

In last week’s monthly meeting of the Board of Directors of the ASF, we approved the creation of six new Top Level Projects (TLPs) at the ASF. This is the most new TLPs ever created at once, followed only by the meeting of November, 2008 where 5 new TLPs were created (CouchDB, Buildr, the Attic, Qpid, and Abdera).

In this particular case, much of the growth comes from within existing projects, wherein subprojects communities within Hadoop and Lucene have matured sufficiently to deserve to manage their own fates, and to create their own Project Mangement Committees (PMCs) to take charge. To put this in another perspective, this is also reflective of the ASF’s growth; before this meeting we had over 70 TLPs and over 30 Incubator podlings, so an addition of 6 new TLPs is less than 10% growth for the month.

We should congratulate the Apache Traffic Server community first, since they went through the Incubation process and successfully graduated from an Incubator Podling into their own TLP. Soon to be served (once the website migration is complete) from http://trafficserver.apache.org/, Apache Traffic Server is fast, scalable and extensible HTTP/1.1 compliant caching proxy server. Congratulations to the whole team in showing a strong and diverse community around this new product.

Next up come three subprojects within the well-known Apache Lucene project which have grown organically from modules within Lucene to be diverse and active projects within their own right. You may recognize some of these product names from the Lucene world.

  • Apache Mahout, which is building a system for creating scalable and effective machine learning libraries which can perform recommendation mining, clustering, classification, and grouping into itemsets.
  • Apache Tika is a toolkit for detecting and extracting metadata and structured text content from various documents using existing parser libraries.
  • Apache Nutch, integratable with both Lucene and Hadoop, adds web-specific crawling, fetching, and organization features.

The Apache Hadoop project – another wildly distributed computing technology – has also grown two of it’s subprojects to the point where they deserve their own fame.

  • Apache Avro is a fast data serialization system that includes rich and dynamic schemas in all it’s processing.
  • Apache HBase is the Hadoop database – designed to provide random, realtime read/write access to Big Data – billions of records – using commodity hardware.

Why did these subprojects spin out to become their own TLPs? The driving factor is not the technology, but rather the community and oversight aspects of how the ASF organizes it’s mostly self-running projects.

From the oversight perspective, the ASF Board relies on every project’s PMC to manage their project’s operations within the broad guidelines of the Apache Way, and to report their project’s progress and issues to the board. This means that there must be enough PMC members who can actively monitor and participate in their project’s activities, and can especially show due diligence and responsibility in voting on any official product releases the project makes. With the rapid growth in both community and technology areas in the Hadoop and Lucene projects, it’s a difficult job for the PMCs to truly understand and help manage all the subprojects they’ve created or added over the past two years.

While the scope of oversight may have hinted that some subprojects should be promoted to TLP status, the gating factor is community. Does a subproject have a strong and diverse enough community to provide their own, independent PMC that can manage their own affairs? Becoming a TLP is both a benefit and a responsibility: the community through it’s new, more focused PMC can better run itself; however the new PMC is also expected to provide accurate reports and responsible oversight of their community and product releases.

Congratulations to all six new projects! Please note that as the websites are updated, each project will be moving it’s home page to http://projectname.apache.org in the near future.

0x17 days until ApacheCon: signup on CrowdVine

As with almost any conference, the chance to network with the people actually working on key technologies is a key part of the experience. ApacheCon has teamed up once again with CrowdVine to offer our own private social networking system.

All attendees – heck, even if you’re not attending, but know some of our projects or committers – are welcome to create a profile on the ApacheCon EU 2009 CrowdVine site. Just Create an Account or Login there.

Note that if you have an existing profile on a CrowdVine site and use the same email address to login, it will pull in your existing bio, url, and personal profile.

On the CrowdVine site for ApacheCon, you can sign up for a personalized schedule of the conference, picking which sessions you’d like to attend, and get your own personal iCal. The great thing about clicking the green plus for sessions there is that you’ll be able to see who else at the conference is planning to attend each particular talk.

CrowdVine also offers several different ways to network and communicate, including making friend/fan/want to meet connections with other attendees as well as having an overall and per-session discussion boards for asking speakers questions or giving feedback. It also provides a nice way to see what other projects or communities other people are interested in.