EclipseCon 2014 trip report

>> Monday, March 24, 2014

I attended EclipseCon for a couple of days last week.  It was great to see friends and colleagues again and learn what they were working on. 

Some highlights for me:

My favourite presentation was by Tamar Cohen who presented on the Verve software that is used to provide 3D visualization of remote environments using NASA robots.  NASA + robots = I could listen all day.  The next day, I had to opportunity to sit at lunch with Tamar.  I mentioned to her that I think she says that she has one of the best jobs in the world, building software for robots some of which will leave our planet, and she agreed :-)  She also made an interesting point from a maintenance perspective, in that most of the software that her team writes for experiments by astronauts is used for the duration of the experiment and then discarded. So there aren't really any long term release engineering requirements for most of their software.

  Tamar Cohen

I really enjoyed the keynote by Catarina Moto on open hardware materials.  Here's a link to many of the videos she used during her talk.  I was especially impressed by the discussion that showed the robotic hand made by open hardware components (more info here).  Such a fine example of how technology can be a force for good in the world.

Catarina Moto talking about open hardware materials

I also really liked Andrew Low's talk on Porting NodeJS to Linux for PPC.  He's a great speaker and  I like porting stories :-)  Nick Stinemates talk on Docker was really interesting for me too, because we are currently investigating using it in some capacity.

On Wednesday, I was happy to present an overview of Mozilla release engineering from both a technical and human perspective.  The slides are here.

The pdf on the EclipseCon website seems to be clearer.  I think slideshare does some compression that causes the images to be a bit fuzzy.

In any case, I received some good feedback on the talk after I spoke, and via twitter and email.  Many people were impressed by both the scale of builds and tests we run, and the tooling we use to manage it.  So big kudos to the Mozilla Releng team and all the others we work with like ATeam and IT that allowed me to have great stories to tell.  There were about 40 people who attended the talk.  As an interesting anecdote, I asked how many people developed in Python in the talk and two hands went up.  As release engineers at Mozilla, we spend most of our days immersed in developing Python code, so this was interesting.  By the number of people in the Java talks at EclipseCon, it is clear that this the Eclipse community continues to be very Java focused.

At the end of my talk, Ian Bull asked an interesting question.  He said something along the lines of "If you had to do it all over again, how would you change things at Eclipse to make it better from a  release engineering standpoint?" (I'm paraphrasing, I'm jetlagged and this was a few days ago).

Ian Bull always asks great questions

I responded that it didn't really matter what I thought, the Eclipse community doesn't make release engineering a priority and allocate resources to it so it wouldn't change, no matter what I thought or did.  Every open source community makes different decisions based on their priorities.  If they want changes, they have to allocate resources, whether they be people, or money or both, to make these priorities happen.  No resources, nothing gets done.  In much the same vein that I'm always surprised that conference organizers reach out to try to get a more diverse speakers along gender/POC/geographic/sexuality etc lines when the CFP is announced, but the rest of the year nobody in the community is championing diversity.  Again, no priorities, no resources, no change.

Thanks to everyone who made EclipseCon happen, it was an interesting conference!


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