Help me help you (market your web framework)

Rather than trolling through google searches, mailing list archives and Amazon book searches, I'd like to try something new. For those projects represented in my Comparing Java Web Frameworks talks (MyFaces, Spring MVC, Stripes, Struts 2, Tapestry and Wicket), would you be interested in helping me gather statistics? I think by allowing projects to gather their own statistics, we'll get a more accurate number of their statistics. Here's the questions I need you to answer:

  1. How many tools (i.e. IDE plugins) are available for your web framework?
  2. How many jobs are available for your framework on Dice.com? What about Indeed.com?
  3. How many messages where posted to your user mailing list (or forum) in March 2007?
  4. How many books are available for your framework?

Of course, if you don't have time, I'll be more than happy to gather these statistics myself. However, those that do answer might get some extra marketing love during my talk. Answering in a comment or sending me an e-mail are the best ways to provide your findings. Thanks!

Update: Alastair asks for further clarification. Here goes:

> If you have lots of IDE tooling available, it probably means the configuration for the framework is overly complex and unmanageable without tooling.

While this may be true, if your framework is hot or uber productive, people want tools. Especially new developers. Remember there's a plethora of new Java developers every year and a lot of them prefer tool-based solutions. Good or bad, IDEs are nice and people like to use them. I've had many clients dismiss frameworks simply because no tools were available.

> The framework with the largest number of jobs available is probably Struts 1. Enough said.

Yes, you're definitely right. However, Struts 1 is not in this comparison - I dropped it because I don't want to recommend it to anyone.

> People only post to user lists when they are stuck. If the framework is hard to use, there will be lots of e-mails. If it has a steep learning curve, and/or the documentation is poor, this will be particularly so. On the other hand, an active list might point to a large active user base. Who knows which is which from a raw figure?

What about community? Mailing lists and their activity is a sign of an active community. Even though SiteMesh is a mature and good solution, its community sucks. There's little support, no new features, no bug fixes. An open source project w/o a community is tough for a company to adopt. Also, the best communities do a lot more than answer questions on mailing lists. They develop their applications, get advice, offer advice and sometimes even hang out. The Struts list used to have threads 30-50 messages long about development philosophies. When you joined the mailing list, you felt like you were a part of something, not just a user of a product.

> If your framework is fairly stable, and someone has written a fabulous tome on it that is universally acknowledged as "the bible", few people would bother writing another book for it.

I don't agree - this just means there's no market for other books because not that many people are using it. Look at Grails, Groovy, GWT and Rails - there's been quite a few books on each and no slowdown in sight. Then again, there weren't many Ant books and that was/is hugely popular. I'm willing to change this question to "How many good does your framework have?", but that's up to everyone's own interpretation. Again, lots of books means there's an active community outside the immediate mailing list - it's a sign the general "market" is interested and the framework fills a need.

Of course, I am interested in asking the questions that developers want to see answered. Do you have suggestions for replacement (or new) questions? Remember, people like hard facts, not wishy washy statements about how productive and OO your framework is. Every framework can be uber productive if you have the right developer(s) and they're genuinely interested in getting stuff done.

Posted in Java at Apr 26 2007, 01:58:30 PM MDT 15 Comments

The JA-SIG Summer Conference

In June, I'll be doing a keynote at the The JA-SIG Summer Conference. This should be interesting because 1) I've never done a Keynote and 2) the other Keynote speakers are Phil Windley and Matt Asay. I've never met either one, but I've heard Matt's name a fair amount. As for Phil, I already like him from reading his blog:

Adobe Open-sources Flex

Yawn...

I'm not sure what the excitement is all about.

I'll be doing my Comparing Java Web Frameworks talk. They gave me the option to talk on whatever I wanted. I chose the CJWF talk because then I didn't need to do any extra work. ;-) I'm beginning to look like a one-trick pony, but that's OK - at least it's a fun talk to deliver. I'll be delivering it at OSCON as well. Yesterday, I submitted proposals for Acegi + SSO + Roller, AppFuse 2.0 and CJWF to CSS and JavaZone. I'll also be flying down to Dallas on June 13th to talk about AppFuse 2.0.

For those of you who don't know, the purpose of JA-SIG and the conference is to develop a global academic community providing education and research in the applied use of open technology architectures and systems in higher education. It sounds like a good conference - I'm looking forward to all the talks on CAS, uPortal and Ajax.

Posted in Java at Apr 26 2007, 01:33:30 PM MDT Add a Comment

AppFuse Light 1.8 Beta Released

AppFuse Light 1.8 Beta adds CSS Framework integration, as well as support for Stripes (1.4.2) and Wicket (1.2.6). This is a beta release so we can work out some kinks before the final release.

AppFuse Light now offers 60 possible combinations for download:

  • Web Frameworks: JSF (MyFaces), Spring MVC (with Ajax, Acegi Security, JSP, FreeMarker or Velocity), Stripes, Struts 1.x, Struts 2.x, Tapestry, WebWork, Wicket
  • Persistence Frameworks: Hibernate, iBATIS, JDO (JPOX), OJB, Spring JDBC

AppFuse Light Screenshot - click on the box at the bottom right of AL to activate StyleSheet Switcher

If you have any questions about this release, please subscribe to the AppFuse user mailing list by sending a blank e-mail to users-subscribe@appfuse.dev.java.net. You can also post questions in a forum-like fashion using Nabble: http://appfuse.org/forums.

If you're a developer of one of the frameworks that AppFuse Light uses - I'd love a code review to make sure I'm "up to snuff" on how to use your framework. I'm also more than willing to give commit rights if you'd like to improve the implementation of your framework.

Live demos are available at:

Update: Based on Martin's blog post, I've added the version numbers for Stripes and Wicket (1.4.2 and 1.2.6, respectively). While the Wicket guys recommended I use Wicket 1.3.0, I was already knee deep in 1.2.6 when I read their recommendation. If 1.3.0 really is that much better than 1.2.6, it should be a pleasure to upgrade (and a good learning experience too boot!).

Posted in Java at Apr 26 2007, 02:23:22 AM MDT 10 Comments

Maven Book and Flex Open Sourced

Maven From Andrew Williams:

Thats right, there is a new guide out there to help all those interested in Maven (or already using it) to get the most out of their build lifecycle. It is indeed the definitive guide and will be regularly updated so it stays that way. This book is produced by my colleges at Sonatype and is a free gift to the Maven community - no registration, no catches

More documentation has never hurt an open source project. Is the book open source too?

In other kick-ass news, Flex was open sourced today. Does this mean the server is open sourced too and we can run a Flex app for free? I see the competition between OpenLaszlo and Flex heating up in the near future. Both are pretty good if you like working with XML. Does your web framework have support for OpenLaszlo and Flex?

Posted in Java at Apr 26 2007, 12:01:34 AM MDT 2 Comments