Monthly Archives: March 2010

Another EclipseCon in the Books

Wow, what a week. I don’t even know where to start. There were a lot of old familiar faces here, there were a lot of new people who introduced themselves to me. The CDT community is thriving and I am more excited about CDT’s future now than I ever have been.

The main reason for that I think is that we’re starting to go beyond our basic set of features into some things you won’t see in most IDEs. The big one for me that only made a little splash is CDT’s new Codan static analysis framework and it’s current small set of checkers. Today, CDT will detect syntax errors and highlight them. But with Codan, we can now detect logic errors. Things that have traditionally made C development hard, like finding unbalanced malloc and free’s, or new’s and delete’s, that lead to memory leaks, can now be checked for with the appropriate checker. It’s pretty new and will only be available for preview in CDT 7.0, but I can’t wait to see where the community takes this.

The other big activity in CDT is our new built-in debugger that gives us the ability to debug without having to rely on an external debugger. It’s also in a preview state, but companies with special debug needs that aren’t being met by gdb, have an opportunity to use a debugger much more tightly integrated into Eclipse, and fully licensed EPL. And no, we’re not planning on a EPL compiler, just dreaming of one :).

I am also seeing things happening on the periphery of CDT that extend Eclipse’s C/C++ development beyond our traditional edit/build/debug. Tracing and profiling are maturing. Support for a “best in class” Linux IDE. Debugging for massive multi-core. It’s as though we’ve now solved the basics and are now focusing on the hard problems, and doing it in the open. It’ll be very interesting to see where things go and how we manage the community to make sure we’re efficient.

Along with parallel tools and Linux communities, I’m getting more involved with the Mobile projects. It’s part of my role as an Architecture Council mentor to help them out. But I think there will be some overlap between Mobile and the traditional embedded that the CDT community represents. There was some great discussions this week in that area and I’m happy with the progress they’re making.

But it’s time to go home and back to the grind. The CDT community and the communities it intersects with are thriving and I can’t wait to see where we end up by next year’s EclipseCon, same time, same place, in 2011.

Totally Pumped about EclipseCon

Well, it’s coming quickly. EclipseCon for me starts with my 6 a.m. flight on Sunday in order to get to the Hyatt in time for Eclipse council meetings. EclipseCon is always a very busy week for me as there are always a few people that I want to run into and chat about CDT things. I made a conscious effort not to submit many talks this year to give me time to breath and to give others in the CDT community their time in the spotlight. It’s going to be great.

The talks I am involved in are my own lightening talk on Wascana, my CDT for Windows effort that combines my work on CDT and my work with p2 to give Windows users a quick start using CDT for Windows programming. I’ll be helping a few others including Ken Ryall on the CDT what’s up standard talk, and Andrew Overholt with the Linux IDE long talk. And I’m involved in a couple of panels. Then we have the various BOFs that take place in the evenings including the CDT and Linux IDE BOFs. My calendar is almost full but there’s enough space to meet the community and help prepare for all this.

Aside from the CDT things that I’m of course interested in, I have a couple of other things I’m looking out for. I’m curious to meet other people using p2 for their commercial install technology as we are doing at Wind River. It would be cool if we can standardize on some touchpoint actions and UI and such to share some of the work. I’ll also be attending the git tutorial as I’d like to see the CDT being one of the early adoptors of git as our read/write repo, once it’s ready, of course.

I’ll also be getting more involved in the Target Communication Framework effort that Wind River has started and that is starting to get community interest. We’d love to work with the community to put together a standard communication framework that allows multiple tools to interact with targets of varying sizes and shapes. Martin O from Wind is giving a talk on that and we’ll be holding a meeting somewhere along the way to plan out the next steps.

And, of course, there’s the bar, the social focal point of every EclipseCon we’ve had, except maybe the DisneyLand one. We were so new then :). This is where the community cuts down the walls between the projects and we become the one bigger Eclipse community. It’s quite a site to see the CDT guy talking to the XML Tools guy wondering what the Xtext guys are up to :). It’s a blast. And I hope to see you there. And if you see me first, please stop me and say hi. That’s what I’m there for.

The Patent System is a Mess

I used to believe that this whole patent system was just a cold war. Everyone was patenting everything they thought of, mainly in case they got sued for infringement on something else, in order to counter sue. Then they’d go meet in a bar somewhere, have a few pints and work things out.

Well, unlike the real cold war, where everyone got smart and realized there would be no winner and just gave up, (and, yeah, there was much more to it than that, but humor me :). The software industry seems to be about to implode on itself.

Yes, I’m talking about Apple suing HTC. I am not a lawyer. I am only a humble software designer, but if I was afraid before of getting sued for accidentally borrowing someone’s idea in my own design, now I’m terrified. Today I was working on a wizard to import existing code into the CDT. I bet someone patented that already and I’m freakin’ scared.

O.K. I’m being over dramatic about this. And I’m sure peace will reign. But something’s got to be done about this system. There are way too many common sense ideas getting patented. And it’s killing the drive to produce great products. The iPhone was really cool when it first came out. But as we got our hands on it and used it for a while, we realized that is wasn’t really anything special, and the user interface ideas they had are easy to implement. So was it worth a patent? Was it really an invention?

The telephone, electricity, the car, those were great inventions worthy of patenting. But patenting to what end. If whoever owns the patent to the automobile sued everyone who figured out how to make one, where would we be today? And isn’t that a monopoly? Where’s the fine line between protecting the rights of the inventor, and protecting the rights of the consumer?

At any rate, I’m just a humble software designer who’s getting very frustrated about having to be a part time legal clerk to do my job. I just want to innovate. And you know what. If someone comes up with the same idea and doesn’t use my implementation. Good on them. There are lots of smart people in the world. Does the patent system help them, or does it make them so frustrated they decide to go server hamburgers instead. (Melodrama hat off 😉