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21 Posts authored by: bill

If you're going to JavaOne next week (like a few of us) then you've probably used Schedule Builder. You use it (no surprise) to create a schedule of talks, BOF's, or meetings you want to attend. You have to use it to reserve your space in a session.



The problem is, it's a horrible app and the more I used it the more I started to think of ways to improve it. One thing that stood out (besides improving its lack of usability) is the fact that there's no concept of community in the application.



[Schedule Builder|] Fortunately, there is an alternative. The guys at Javalobby built an excellent schedule builder, complete with community features like group chat (powered by  Wildfire). You can build your schedule using a really slick calendar interface, export your schedule as iCal or HTML, and filter the UI to show only sessions, BOF's, etc. Great work guys!



Beyond this I'd love to see some improvements for next year (either to the JavaLobby version or the official conference one):



  • Share or publish schedules: I'd love to show my colleagues what sessions I'm going to. Further, I'd be great to use group schedules as a gauge of session popularity (think Delicious).

  • Use a message board: It'd be great if there was a discussion for each session.

  • Connect with people: Imagine being able to chat or meet people in advance of the session.

  • Events: This could be a special forum, just for posting events like meet-ups or group runs (see below ).

All of this would inject some more community in to the JavaOne experience. The JavaLobby forums and their new app is a really great start. Of course, I know some software which could help in the above ideas.


As an aside: Is anyone interested in going for a run at JavaOne? 1/4th of the Jive Software Hood-to-Coast team will be in SF and we'd love to head out for a jog. Anyone else interested? If so, leave a comment on this blog entry and I'll get in touch with you.

Scrum Infected

Posted by bill May 9, 2006

No, it's not a disease but rather a style of meeting that we've recently started to use in our engineering team. We started a few releases ago -- it worked so well that we decided to continue even when it's not cruch time.Scrum (a rugby term meaning to huddle) actually refers to a whole management methodology. We're just using one part of it -- the daily stand-up meeting. This isn't groundbreaking and our use of it is by no means unique but the results so far has been pretty dramatic. A brief 15 minute meeting gets everyone on the same page and really helps communication.


Here are a few crucial things to a good scrum style daily meeting:

  1. 15 mins, tops. It's also key that people stand up -- when they're standing there's less incentive to get comfortable and stay for a long time. Being mindful of the clock means you'll be mindful of everyone's time.

  2. Start on time. If someone shows up late, beat them up and steal their lunch money.

  3. Come prepared. Everyone involved should think about what they're going to say so they don't waste time coming up with it during the meeting.

  4. Have the meeting in the afternoon (ours is at 1:30). We originally tried it in the morning but that didn't work out because people get in to the office at different times.

  5. For engineering meetings, make sure to involve your support team. It's their chance to listen in, stay in the loop and (most importantly) they get to ask about bug fixes and relay important customer issues.

Jive Software at JavaOne

Posted by bill Apr 26, 2006

[] [] This year, three of us will be making the trek to JavaOne in San Francisco. It's been three years since I was there so I'm definitely looking forward to it. The two pictures here are from the 2001 and 2003 shows.


We'd love to meet up with anyone interested. We'll be there starting Monday night and will go home Friday afternoon. If you're interested in getting in touch, please contact us and mention JavaOne. Or, please leave a comment on this entry and I'll get in touch.


I'm looking forward to hearing Josh Bloch's talks (always missed those in the past) as well as sitting in on some sessions about Mustang and Dolphin.


Awesome, I just came across this: Men's Journal: Portland best place to live. Here's a snip:

Broken down into a variety of categories to appeal to a broad range of interests, the "Best of the Best" picks on the list features winners for the perfect combination of adventure, attractiveness and affordability, with Portland No. 1, followed by Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colo.; San Diego; and Burlington, Vt.

We actually thought about moving the business to Boulder, CO a few years ago when we were based in NYC. Boulder is great but for a town of 90,000 people it's actually as expensive as Seattle. We opted for Portland based on that and a number of other reasons -- bigger city, affordable, good business environment, friendly people and low commuting times.

How We Manage Our Website

Posted by bill Mar 17, 2006

We recently relaunched our website and with that we changed how we manage content on the site. Before, the website code (Java classes, JSP pages, HTML, images, CSS, etc) was checked in to source control and usually one developer (sadly, me) would have to make all kinds of changes. It was a really inefficient process and not sustainable the bigger we grew. We needed a system where non-engineers could edit the pages, see their changes easily and deploy the changes to the site without my help.


First, we use an open source template framework called Sitemesh. This allows our guys to write very basic HTML and not worry about things like the header, footer, sidebar, etc. Sitemesh takes the output of a JSP page (or anything that serves up HTML), parses it then merges it with a template.  You can have any number of templates in the system, all mapped to patterns or various other things. This is a pretty simplified description of Sitemesh -- overall, it's a very powerful and extremely simple framework. As I mentioned, it'll handle anything that produces HTML so it's compatible with PHP, Perl, ASP, etc. We use it in our products to make templating easy and to keep the JSP pages clean.


Next, I created a Subversion hook to do automatic deployments of our content when a check-in is received. (I got the idea for this from an Ars Technica article.) Subversion is our source control and a hook is a way to execute a script based on an event like a check-in, update, etc. Local to the machine is a checkout of our site code. From there, the hook script calls an Ant target to deploy the latest JSP/HTML code. I only deploy JSP or HTML in this step and not Java classes or config files. Doing updates to the core source is less frequent and ususally requires a server restart.


Finally, we have a checkout of the site project on our internal file server (Linux + Samba). I also use that checkout as the web root for an internal staging site. Since changes are picked up automatically, our guys can edit the files on the file server then reload the page immediately in their browser. After they make their changes, code is checked in and automatically deployed.

We have a few 4 open positions right now so I thought I'd take a minute to describe each.

  • IT Engineer (pdf)
    I think this is more than the average sys admin position. You'll be the sole IT person and besides helping our employees you'll be in charge of setting IT direction, working with some great technology (Linux, Asterisk our VOIP system, Solaris) and helping us with our software release process. Oh, and did I mention we'll set you up with a shiny new MacBookPro?

  • UI Designer (pdf)
    This position has the potential to have the highest impact of almost any of our jobs. We love great UIs and we hope you love creating them.From the req: "Were looking for an insanely talented and versatile web designer to help drive the look and usability of our next generation of collaboration applications. The right candidate must be passionate about web applications and user experience and have the skills to put it all together using Photoshop, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and AJAX."

  • Support Engineer (pdf)
    I'm really amazed with the support team we've built (don't take my word, others think that too). This is a chance to join that team and interact with our customers on a daily basis. It's a very technical position and we guarantee you'll learn a lot.

  • Senior Software Engineer (pdf)
    This is a chance to join our core development team. You'll work on our major products (Jive Forums, Jive Knowledge Base) and you'll be able to make significant contributions to product direction and implementation. Raw engineering talent is important but we're also looking for someone interested in developing solid products and working with customers.

If you're interested, please with a cover letter & resume. For more info, check out our jobs page.


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