Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

10+ YEARS


Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

AppFuse Startup Video?

Dion wants to see an AppFuse Startup Video like Mike Clark's CruiseControl Action Movie. While this sounds like a good idea, I think I'd be shooting myself in the foot if I created it. Why? Because then more folks would start to use AppFuse, and hence, I'd have to answer a lot more e-mails on the mailing list. Being a top-ranked project on java.net doesn't help. You might think that there's a lot of issues with AppFuse, and that's why the mail traffic is so high, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Most questions seem to be along the lines of "Why did you do this?", "What do you think about adding X technology?" or "My Hibernate relationships don't work."

Few of the issues relate to AppFuse directly (i.e. build file and directory structure), but many of them relate to the technologies it depends on. Good HowTos should lead to a lot less Hibernate questions, and I hope to work on that before the next release. As far as the other questions, I need to add some links from the FAQ to the mail archives so I can quite repeating myself. I think a lot of the mail traffic is just an indication of a successful open-source project. In other words, when you get popular - you have little time to develop anymore. I probably spend 1-2 hours per day just answering AppFuse e-mails.

Another unfortunate side-effect of this is that there seems to be a lot of newbies. When AppFuse was first released in April 2003, it seemed that only experienced, smart developers used it. Maybe this was because there wasn't any documentation (besides Pro JSP and Java Development with Ant, which explains the entire build.xml file), so folks had to really understand the dependent technologies to use AppFuse. Now there's questions about the basics of different frameworks. In most cases, I'd like to respond to a link to the framework's documentation - but sometimes the documentation just isn't there. I guess that's why frameworks like Ruby on Rails succeed - all the dependencies are part of the framework. If I tried to do that in the Java Community, it'd be project suicide. I'd spend all day answering questions like, "Why aren't you using Hibernate?", "Why Not Spring/JSF/Struts, etc." Furthermore, I'm not as smart as the framework developers, so it'd simply never happen.

But I digress. What's in it for me if I create an AppFuse Startup Video? I can see what's in it for Mike - his video is about a project he doesn't support (AFAIK) and the video should lead to more book sales. I suppose I could try and hook users that AppFuse is explained in Spring Live, but that's not really the case. Maybe I should just do an Equinox Startup Video. ;-)

Posted in Java at Jan 24 2005, 10:29:12 AM MST 15 Comments
Comments:

Even with my lack of knowledge I have been amazed at some of the questions posted on the mailling list. Many of them are application speciic, like all of the hibernate issues. Most of the hibernate questions I see really should be posted on the hibernate mailing list and not appfuse.

Frankly I have been impressed that you actually answer as many emails as you do (that's a compliment). But as the project grows and adds users I can't imagine that anyone would expect the lead developer to spend his time answering RTFM questions. We'd all prefer to see the next great version coming from a developer total enthused by the project rather than overwhelmed by emails. ;) IMHO

Personally I love the emails from users who get cross about some random functionality that you haven't incorporated (the price of success). IT"S FREE PEOPLE! FREE! Now, if they want to fork over the $1500 for a user license, then they can gripe all they want. Otherwise, in this thing we call Open Source, why not figure it out for yourself and contribute it back. ;)

Keep up the great work, Matt! And thank you for all of the work you've freely contributed.

Posted by David Thompson on January 24, 2005 at 12:36 PM MST #

+1 for Spring Live video.

Posted by 208.179.4.50 on January 24, 2005 at 12:52 PM MST #

That's funny, I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about how to do a Trails video. For me, it seems like a no brainer. I really WANT people to start investigating Trails and since the video is what got Rails really cookin it just makes sense. Trails, for those who have no idea what I'm talking about, is a framework inspired by Rails in java. I really gotta get on the stick and do it. Trails is done enough that it ought to demo well, and I could just record a video of me doing the tutorial. Right now, I'm trying to figure which tool is best for doing the video... unfortunately I'm stuck on a Windoze box just now, so that makes it harder. Ah well, excuses, excuses, right?

Posted by Chris Nelson on January 24, 2005 at 02:06 PM MST #

I think you really should answer only AppFuse related questions and not questions about Hibernate, etc. Hibernate on the other side is IMO not a very good example because the forums are pretty useless and the tone is often pretty harsh. There should be more people answering these questions like on the WebWork mailing list.

Posted by Lars Fischer on January 24, 2005 at 04:49 PM MST #

Unfortunatly I agree with Lars. I think the Hibernate, etc questions are asked on the AppFuse mailing list because they are usually answered, and always in a friendly tone, unlike the Hibernate list/board. Sometimes I can't believe how rude somepeople are on the Hibernate mailing list. I guess it comes from answering the same RTFM question 100 times. Chris

Posted by Chris Blackburn on January 24, 2005 at 06:52 PM MST #

Two things. 1.) A collegue of mine suggested a few days ago that the people on the hibernate forums are probably preparing to take over Poland, given thier general attitude and demeanor. Cracked me up. 2.) Matt, *great work* with AppFuse. In a night and half, I have set up a dandy website with appfuse. You've done a great job with this! It's just a delight to work with a system where the developer really "get its", and it's (so far) rock solid. Excellent work dude! T

Posted by Tim Tischler on January 24, 2005 at 11:10 PM MST #

Matt, first of all a compliment for all the good work you do. But please, do not spend too much time on people who are too lazy to educate themselves, too thrifty to buy a good book (there *are* a lot of good books out there nowadays) and too dumb to realize that they're being selfish in wanting to have answers the easy way.
So if you're going to make a video, do it for Equinox. AppFuse is a great product, I love the way I can use it to kickstart webapp development, but users need to know the frameworks AppFuse relies on to be able to work successfully with it. And that's good. Building a good webapp is a profession, not a trick or an art. If people are not willing to invest their own time, and use the web smartly to educate themselves, or answer their product- or framework-related questions, they're not worth your time.
So thumbs up for you Matt! Keep up the good work, and hopefully I will be able to think of or need something to contribute before you've already done it sometime in the future.... :)

Posted by Jakko Vos on January 25, 2005 at 12:05 AM MST #

+1 for Spring Live video. It might help to increase the sales for your book, plus it's like a free advertising. You can even use it for your conferences or shows - much better than PowerPoint presentations :).

Posted by Ahmed Mohombe on January 25, 2005 at 03:55 AM MST #

I'd also like to see a Spring Live video. It should help sell Equinox (provided you can run the demo quickly enough to show that it really is easy :-). Have a look at viewlets (http://www.qarbon.com)...their free version leaves watermarks on it, but it should be ok for a demo of Equinox or AppFuse. BTW, I can empathize w/ all the AppFuse newbies. I finally decided to try it myself to see how the Tapestry integration went and also decided to try using PostgreSQL. Details in my blog in the URL, but it was certainly more painful than I expected...

Posted by Ken Yee on January 25, 2005 at 11:15 AM MST #

Got to agree with the comments on the hibernate forums. Some of the responses to peoples questions are like getting slapped hard in the face. They are extremely 'Nazi' about everything. I notice that when they answer questions, they hardly ever post an example. I switched to Ibatis, and now im happy. Keep up the good work.

Posted by David Free on January 25, 2005 at 05:25 PM MST #

That's it. Raible, get going on that Hibernate Live book. Pronto.

Posted by 65.100.186.85 on January 25, 2005 at 07:12 PM MST #

Just a follow-up post with a link to the Hibernate "How to Ask For Help" page. It seems they are probably just as annoyed with the RTFM questions as everyone else. :)

Posted by David Thompson on January 25, 2005 at 07:27 PM MST #

As a follow-up to what I posted earlier, I just received a response to a question I posted on the hibernate forum, 4 months after I asked the question. And this was no RTFM question, it was related to a genuine bug in Hibernate. I realise that open-source is free, but hibernate is a huge product in the java arena now.

Posted by David Free on January 26, 2005 at 03:07 PM MST #

As one of the newbies to Spring+Hibernate+Frameworks+XDoclet+etc./AppFuse... in addition to the appfuse/equinox lists being much more friendly, I feel that the main reason why the appfuse lists get so many 'unrelated' questions is because from the viewpoint of someone new the distinction between what belongs to Hibernate vs. what belongs to Spring vs. what belongs to AppFuse gets a bit blurry. So, my suggestion would be when answering any particular post/email simply include something about "this is actually part of <technology>, not AppFuse itself". Telling someone to RTFM is quite alright when warranted, but with something built on so many techonologies, sometimes they just need to know _which_ FM to read.

Posted by SJG on January 27, 2005 at 08:22 AM MST #

+2 for videos. make the first one an executive summary. or at least have a section that is <= 5minutes that does the overview from 50,000 feet. you could then drill down into whatever you liked. one could could be an incremental approach withextras/appgen emphasizing the free tests in 3 layers. another might do an appfusegen that took on a small domain model. another might used equinox, and another might just cover the 5 flavours of from end and another the back end flavours. one could drill into spring etc. as far as what's in it for you, you might make some reasonable $'s. you will provide a great educational tool. thanks

Posted by Ray Tayek on February 18, 2005 at 01:40 AM MST #

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