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Meet This Year's Top Ambassador Nominees

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The Eclipse Awards Season is in full swing this month, with voting open for the Individual Eclipse Community Awards. DZone interviewed each of the nominees for the awards, to give you a little background before you decide to vote. Throughout this week on EclipseZone we will be focusing on the three individual awards open for voting -Top Ambassador, Top Contributor and Top Committer. DZone caught up with each of the five Top Ambassador Nominees, including our very own James Sugrue, DZone Editor and the voice behind EclipseZone and Javalobby. (We wish James and all the other candidates the best of luck!)     

The award is to recognize an individual (committer or non-committer) who best promotes and supports the Eclipse community.

This year Top Ambassador nominees are:

  • Nick Boldt

    A committer for many Eclipse projects and responsible for ensuring multiple builds are working, Nick is also popular in the Eclipse blogging community where his posts are often in the form of music or poetry.
  • Paul Fremantle

    Co-founder and CTO of WSO2, Paul has been praised for evangalising the Equinox platform and it's use as part of an SOA platform.
  • Mik Kersten

    A well known member of the community, and the face behind Mylyn and Tasktop, Mik has even earned a JavaOne Rock Star Hall of Fame award. His work with Mylyn has demonstrated the capabilities of the Eclipse platform to a wide audience.
  • Tom Schindl

    Tom is Chief Software Engineer at BestSolution.at, and has been nominated for helping everywhere, across newsgroups, blogs and for hist work in presenting at Eclipse conferences. Tom is very involved in the e4 project, as well as Nebula and UFaceKit.
  • James Sugrue

    James is the editor at EclipseZone, and works as a software architect at Pilz. As well as leading the revival of EclipseZone, writing articles and doing interviews with some of the community leaders, James has begun to get more involved in some Eclipse projects.

Over the next few pages we will introduce and interview each of the nominees. It struck us, over the course of these interviews, the diversity of the contributions that all five ambassadors provide for the community, so we believe it is worth reading through, and considering each of the nominees before you place your vote.

Nick Boldt

DZone: Could you tell us more about yourself?

Nick: Sure. I'm a committer for multiple Eclipse.org, JBoss.org, and sf.net projects, including several Eclipse Modeling projects, JBoss Tools and Dev Studio and a couple of Eclipse Dash projects. When not sitting in front of a screen or Blackberry, I enjoy cycling, hiking, swimming, and kayaking. I have two dogs that keep me exercised & entertained, even during the several months of snow we get here in Toronto.

DZone: What are the main things that you do within the community?

Nick: Release engineering. Evangelism. Testing. Blogging. Documentation. Writing parodic songs to gently poke fun at Eclipse, software development & open source. Finding & reporting bugs. Monitoring newsgroups, mailing lists, and forums. Running contests to give away Eclipsewear to the community in exchange for some fun viral marketing.

DZone: How long have you been involved with Eclipse?

Nick: Since 2004 - the second half of the Eclipse 3.0 / EMF 2.0 release year.

Initially I was brought in to be a developer for the EMF project, but my focus shifted toward the website, release engineering, database work, and then to the project management involved in coordinated release trains for both Eclipse and IBM. Now that most of the release engineering work at Eclipse (for Modeling, anyway) is self-sufficient, I can focus more on the fun stuff like contests, testing, and marketing/evangelism via blogging.

I'm also co-leading a project to get a build farm set up at Eclipse.org to ease new projects into the process of building, testing, and publishing their bits.

DZone: Do you have a favourite project within the Eclipse ecosystem?

Nick: EMF will always be my first love, but I have many favourite projects at Eclipse: Mylyn is by far my best productivity enhancer; Zest is just plain cool; the Plug-in Spy has saved me a number of times; Eclipse's Ant integration is invaluable; PDT and phpeclipse have made my life much easier for years; JDT and PDE are impossible to live without; BPMN is great for sketching process flows; RSE is great for publishing to FTP sites.

DZone: In the Eclipse world, what were your highlights of 2008, and what are you looking forward to in 2009?

2008: Ganymede release; EclipseCon '08; p2; Ontario Linux Fest '08 (where we met dozens of Eclipse fans and still more who were eager to learn about Eclipse for C/C++, Ruby, PHP, Python, and Git work -- Eclipse isn't just about Java anymore, and the community knows it!)

2009: Galileo release; EclipseCon '09; p2, second release; JBoss Tools 3; Dash Athena, aka the Eclipse Common Builder

DZone: What is your full time job?

Nick: Productization & Release Engineering for JBoss Tools and Developer Studio. I work remotely from home and support people from California to Colorado to NY to Switzerland to China. Makes for erratic sleep, but a very fun job.

DZone: Is it difficult for you to find the time to promote and support the Eclipse community?

Nick: No - even when I'm doing JBoss work I'm evangelizing Eclipse -- be it Mylyn, PDT, CDT, EMF, RSE, or GMF. There's always something to be said about the work going on at the Foundation.

DZone: Why do you think you should be chosen as Top Ambassador?

Nick: Well, it's 3:57am, so beyond everything I've said above, let me leave you with a song... http://divby0.blogspot.com/2009/02/workin-9-to-9.html

Paul Fremantle

DZone: Congratulations on the nomination Paul. Could you tell us more about yourself?

Paul: Sure. I am Paul Fremantle, CTO of WSO2 and involved in a number of Open Source initiatives, including Apache projects and others. I used to work at IBM where I led development of the IBM Web Services Gateway and in 2005 I left to setup a company devoted to creating better Open Source middleware. I co-chair the OASIS WSRX technical committee and I am the VP of Apache Synapse. Most of my last year has been spent in completely re-architecting our open source SOA initiative on top of the Eclipse Equinox OSGi runtime.

DZone: What are the main things that you do within the community?

Paul: My main involvement with the Eclipse community has been in trying to encourage wider use of Equinox. I think that Equinox is an amazing set of code and it has revolutionized the code that I am working on, and I know there is more to come. The main Equinox based project I am involved in (Carbon) is just starting to look at p2 and going beyond the initial modularity and composability that Equinox gives.

DZone: How long have you been involved with Eclipse?

Well of course I've been an Eclipse user for a long time - its been my main IDE for as long as I can remember - at least 5 years and probably longer. And I have been evangelizing OSGi and Equinox as much as I can recently. All the projects I work on also use Eclipse as the main tooling platform.

DZone: Do you have a favourite project within the Eclipse ecosystem?

Yes, of course - Equinox.

DZone: In the Eclipse world, what were your highlights of 2008, and what are you looking forward to in 2009?

Paul: So my highlight for 2008 was whats happened with p2. I think that is extremely exciting. For 2009, I think the highlight is going to be how widely Equinox spreads into new projects and initiatives.

DZone: What is your full time job?

CTO of WSO2 means that I have to manage the technology development of a complete Open Source SOA platform - which is now deeply based on the Equinox OSGi container. As well as my role in developing WSO2's technology, I spend a lot of time with customers both consulting and advising on technology. There is huge excitement around how OSGi and SOA are coming together to create composable systems, and WSO2 is leading this drive - and we couldn't do it without the Equinox runtime.

DZone: Is it difficult for you to find the time to promote and support the Eclipse community?

Paul: Not at all - its something that aligns beautifully with my job, thanks to the fantastic technology coming from the Eclipse Foundation.

DZone: Why do you think you should be chosen as Top Ambassador?

Honestly speaking - I don't! I think amongst the other nominations there are more deserving candidates who have contributed immensely to the Eclipse community. However, I am incredibly happy if I have made any contribution to the success of Equinox and the wider Eclipse community. I am a huge fan of all Open Source communities and Eclipse has proven one of the most successful and vibrant. Long may it continue!

Mik Kersten

DZone: Congratulations on the nomination Mik. Could you tell us more about yourself?

I’m the lead of the Eclipse Mylyn project and CEO of Tasktop Technologies, the company behind the task-focused interface and Mylyn. For quite a while now I’ve been obsessed with building Eclipse-based tools that allow us to control the enormous amounts of information we now work with day-to-day.

My Eclipse journey started out with evolving programming paradigms, in the form of AOP and AspectJ, and then moved onto the UI layer of the IDE, where we were in even more need of new technologies to make us productive when working our growing systems. I’m happy to say that those efforts have been paying off, since a large portion of Eclipse-based developers now use the task-focused interface for their daily work. We’re also managing to infect non-programmers with this way of working via the RCP version of Tasktop.

DZone: What are the main things that you do within the community?

My involvement over the years has been pretty broad, so I’ll focus on the priorities that I juggle today. At the 30,000 foot level, I’m on the Eclipse board of directors and help represent committers’ needs for driving the strategic priorities of the Eclipse Foundation.
At the 20,000 foot level, I participate in a few groups that help coordinate the evolution of Eclipse, including the Architecture Council, the UI Best Practices Working Group, and the groups that oversee coordinated builds and EPP packages.
At the 10,000 foot level, by leading the Mylyn project, I work with the input of users, integrators and vendors in order to help us determine the priorities and plans for evolving the Mylyn framework and tools. Finally, I still get to spend some time in the trenches on one of my favorite past times, coding Mylyn.

DZone: How long have you been involved with Eclipse?

It started in 2001, while I was at Xerox PARC working on the AspectJ tools suite and framework, which included extensions to NetBeans and JBuilder . Gregor Kiczales and I bumped into Erich Gamma and Brian Barry (previously the OTI CEO) at OOPSLA, and they told us they were about to release an extensible tool platform that could make my job a whole lot easier.
In early 2002 Adrian Colyer (now SpringSource CTO) and I created the AJDT project, and immediately started appreciate the power of Eclipse's extensibility. Later in 2002 we re-implemented the AspectJ compiler on top of JDT Core, and made it incremental to boot. The amazing thing was that thanks to Eclipse's plug-in architecture modularity we were able to make it run in Eclipse, JBuilder, NetBeans, and on the command line. This and the dramatically easier mechanisms for adding UI extensions gave me a profound appreciation for Eclipse being the best platform for tool innovation, and as a result I focused all of my future tool building efforts on it.

DZone: Is it difficult for you to find the time to promote and support the Eclipse community?

No, because I’ve been fortunate enough to structure my responsibilities at Tasktop Technologies in a way where it is an important part of my day job. On the flipside, Eclipse does seem to manage to transcend my day jobs, since I started evangelizing it while still at Xerox PARC, then at Intentional Software, then as a student doing my PhD, and now at Tasktop. So it I seems that it has been difficult for me to find a line of work where I don’t spend my time promoting and supporting the Eclipse community. I’ve always thought it would be fun to be a welder, so maybe there’s still time.

DZone: Why do you think you should be chosen as Top Ambassador?

Mik: While the community activities that I have listed above give me the perspective I need to be an ambassador for Eclipse, I see my main ambassadorial contributions as things that fall outside of the Eclipse community. To thrive, a software community needs to grow and to evolve. One of the most rewarding things that I did over the past year is to introduce Eclipse and Eclipse-based technologies to a lot of new users and organizations.

Part of this came from the ongoing movement of people who are choosing to leaving their IDE for Eclipse because they want Mylyn and the task-focused interface. I’ve also been able to get a lot of people onto Eclipse through the high profile talks I’ve been giving, including a Rock Star talk at last year’s JavaOne, which made me realize how many Java programmers were still discovering Eclipse.
As Tasktop’s CEO, I’ve worked with several tool vendors to create new Eclipse-based solutions, each of which has made a very positive contribution to our ecosystem. More recently, I’ve been helping large companies and organizations adopt Eclipse and RCP-based solutions. While treading into domains that are less familiar with the benefits of Eclipse can be challenging, the technology tends to speak for itself. So I think that I’ll stick with the Eclipse work for now, and put off dreams of being a welder for a couple more decades.

Tom Schindl

DZone: Could you tell us more about yourself?

Tom: It is a great honor being nominated. My name is Tom Schindl and I'm one of the founders of BestSolution.at Systemhaus GmbH, an innovative company located in Western Austria providing consulting services and business solutions on top of the Java platform ranging from Eclipse RCP to Web 2.0 applications developed with GWT.

DZone: What are the main things that you do within the community?
On a daily basis I answer questions on the newsgroup, helping people to get started with different Eclipse technologies that I'm familiar with:

  • platform-rcp: ~210 posts
  • platform-swt: ~490 posts
  • platform-ui: ~330 posts
  • platform-emf: ~160 posts
  • technology-nebula: ~ 80 posts

Also, to help people get started more easily in future, I create snippets from the most frequently asked questions, compiling a JFace-Snippets collection.

In addition to answering newsgroup questions, I blog to describe my explorations of various Eclipse technologies as well as to highlight interesting Eclipse developments such as E4.

On a conference basis, I give talks at conferences like EclipseCon and Eclipse Summit Europe where I show what is available and how to wire it all together. For this purpose I create useful example applications that people can use to get started with the various technologies.

It's important to address the lack of documentation that is available because I have found that people often don't know what's already available; they simply need to see some code that wires everything together. One of those applications is the one I wrote for my Datacentric Application talk at ESE; many people use it to get started with CDO and EMF-Databinding and to present those technologies to their customers.

On a project basis I try to make Eclipse projects interesting for other developers ranging from Swing to GWT. That's why I started the UFaceKit project which provides Eclipse databinding observables for different UI platforms such as Swing, QT, and GWT. This can help projects like EMF (CDO, Teneo,...) to gain even more momentum outside of Eclipse development.

DZone: How long have you been involved with Eclipse?

Tom:I started using Eclipse with version 3.1, started contributing with 3.2, and became a committer for platform UI with version 3.3. Since then I became a committer for Nebula, which I now co-lead with Chris Gross.

DZone: Do you have a favourite project within the Eclipse ecosystem?

Tom: Yes I have multiple projects that are all equally my favorite!


Naturally I'm really proud of the UFaceKit project that I'm leading and the people that helped to make it happen. UFaceKit provides many interesting features starting from Declarative Styling(aka CSS) to support for different UI technologies (like QT).

Eclipse Databinding:

Helping Eclipse Databinding improve and become mainstream by working with passionate people like Boris Bokowski and Matt Hall is simply fun.

DZone: In the Eclipse world, what were your highlights of 2008, and what are you looking forward to in 2009?

Tom:First the best things about 2008.One of the coolest things this year was to learn about CDO and the solutions it provides for the applications I have to write in my day job. Besides providing me the possibility to transfer EMF-Objects over the wire without any interaction from my side, CDO provides me with a scalable solution when my model graphs become big and also solves many of the concurrency problems I face.

The best things about 2009 - E4,The next generation of the Eclipse Platform is a place where a lot innovation happens. Starting from the modeled workbench (the team I'm part of) to Declarative UI and a Flexible Resource Framework there are many different interesting things happening in e4. I decided to be part of e4 after EclipseCon 2008 and wrote the first EMF-based prototype for the Modeled Workbench. Being part of this effort is one of the greatest things! I think after EclipseCon 2009 the community is going to be amazed by the new design and the work that's been done by the e4 team.

With UFaceKit, I'm looking forward to shipping a first release of UFaceKit providing support for 4 different UI technologies: SWT, Swing, QT and GWT. I will include declarative styling (aka CSS) and declarative UI support using EMF. Hopefully it will attract new committers for other platforms such as Android and draw2d and even GEF3D and OpenGL to build a growing community around it.

DZone: What is your full time job?

Tom: My day job is leading a small software company which develops Java applications on top of the Eclipse technologies like RCP and EMF. We are also providing consulting services to introduce those Eclipse technologies in other companies and have lately started using GWT to provide Web 2.0 solutions and support for our customers.

DZone: Is it difficult for you to find the time to promote and support the Eclipse community?

Yes and no. Answering newsgroup questions is something like taking a small cigarette break every hour. The project and blogging work I do in the evening.

DZone:Why do you think you should be chosen as Top Ambassador?

I think I should be chosen because I have helped many people to get started with Eclipse technologies and provided them with high quality EPL source code they can use in their own products.
Ensuring that new developers have a positive experience when working with Eclipse and providing them with first class solutions so they can help their customers helps build on Eclipse's already excellent reputation.

James Sugrue

DZone: Could you tell us more about yourself?

James: My name is James Sugrue. I'm based in Cork, Ireland where I work as a software architect.
In my spare time I work as editor at EclipseZone, as well as JavaLobby. I've been with DZone since last February, so I'm just about a year working here. It's been a great opportunity to be part of such an important community website.
I'm fascinated by the variety and quality in the Eclipse eco-system, and have been closely following the projects for years.

DZone: What are the main things that you do within the community?

James:As editor at EclipseZone I've been responsible for reviving the site, as noted in Chris' nomination. I get to meet a lot of the people behind the projects and commerical products in the Eclipse eco-system. I do my best to ensure that EclipseZone provides a good balance of articles and tutorials for both beginners and veterans. My aim is to make EclipseZone the definitive stop for Eclipse users and developers. Of course, none of this is possible without the assistance from the community, which I get a lot of.

Earlier this year I released an EMF Refcard with Ed Merks. It was an interesting collaboration- Ed knows the framework back to front, while I an just a typical user of the framework. That was one of the highlights for me so far, as Ed is one of the most respected members of the Eclipse community. I have also begun working closely with the ECF team. I think this is a fantastic project. I'm hoping to get some articles together about it soon, and to get some code into their codebase.

DZone: How long have you been involved with Eclipse?

James: I started using Eclipse as an IDE back in 2002, and from there we used SWT for our standalone applications rather than Swing. This was a great introduction to the Eclipse eco-system. Since then the company has fully embraced all the Eclipse technologies and projects, from RCP to EMF. And of course, more recently I've been involved in EclipseZone which puts me right at the heart of the community.

DZone: Do you have a favourite project within the Eclipse ecosystem?

James:Without doubt that would be ECF (Eclipse Communication Framework). It really showcases where IDEs need to go in the age of overseas collaboration. If you haven't seen it yet, you have to watch the COLA Real Time Shared Editing demo. And it's all there for you to try already, just download ECF and take a look. The innovation of the project is unparalleled - there are so many possibilities for this technology in RCP applications.

DZone: In the Eclipse world, what were your highlights of 2008, and what are you looking forward to in 2009?

James:My personal highlight for 2008 was making it to Eclipse Summit Europe in November. I got to meet all of those people that I had only communicated with over email and everyone was so helpful. It really is worth trying to make it to one of the major Eclipse conferences, to keep up with the latest developments. The Ganymede release was quite impressive - very complete and delivered in time. It really sets an example for commercial applications.

In 2009, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with e4. I've been keeping an eye on it, and it looks like it will shape up as something very interesting. I can't wait to get more involved with ECF, and maybe another project or two. The Galileo release promises to be good. And I have some intriguing article series' set up for EclipseZone - I'm looking forward to seeing how these are received by the community.

DZone:What is your full time job?

James: I work as a software architect at Pilz, in Ireland. This involves heavy use of Eclipse. I started here as a graduate 8 years ago, and am really enjoying the job. The challenges are fun, and it's been great to watch the changes in the industry over the past few years.

DZone: Is it difficult for you to find the time to promote and support the Eclipse community?

James:Well, it's not that easy. Part of my job involves working with Eclipse technologies and investigating new opportunities provided by the projects. But contacting people, writing articles, doing interviews and organising EclipseZone does require a certain amount of time. It's worth it though, and the nomination makes me feel like I'm doing the right things. I have to give up some of my spare time to get all this done, but it's quite addictive once you get started. Because of the welcoming nature of the community, it feels like you're working among friends. And because of everything that I've got from Eclipse, I feel the need to give something back.

DZone: Why do you think you should be chosen as Top Ambassador?

James:It's such an honor to be nominated. I'm so happy that the community has taken some notice of the work that I've done on EclipseZone.
I've put a lot of my spare time into EclipseZone, as I believe there is a lack of full sites dedicated to Eclipse. I've been working on creating a good balance of articles, for beginners and advanced users. It's important that this happens - a lot of people have a fear of open source communities. The Eclipse community is very welcoming, and I want to reflect that in EclipseZone.
I've had the chance to meet a lot of the people behind Eclipse, and they've made me excited about Eclipse. We're only at the beginning of this huge movement, and I want to pass on this enthusiasm to others out there. Winning this award is as much a tribute to the other contributors at EclipseZone as myself.

Now that you've met each of the nominees, it's time to make the tough decision and vote for the person that you believe deserves to be this year's Top Ambassador. Voting closes on February 27th. Tomorrow we will meet the top contributors.

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