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BlueDragon open source to be unveiled at cf.Objective() 2008

We now have a date and location for the public unveiling of the open source BlueDragon project. The organizers of cf.Objective() 2008 have generously allocated a two-hour timeslot for a Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) session on Saturday, May 3 starting at 7:30 pm where I'll publicly demonstrate and release the open source BlueDragon project for the first time. I plan to organize this session into three parts:

  1. For those who aren't interested in the source code, but just want to get up and running as quickly as possible, I'll demonstrate how to download and install the BlueDragon binaries on Tomcat and JBoss. I'll give a quick overview of the J2EE webapp and WAR file structure, and show how to edit the bludragon.xml configuration file to perform common tasks such as adding datasources and mappings, and how to enable/disable debug output.

  2. For those who are interested in the source code, I'll demonstrate how to download and install the BlueDragon open source project into Eclipse, how to configure debugging, and give an overview of the source code so you can find your way around. I'll also show how to create your own CFML tags and functions. Anyone interested in this portion should review Adam Haskell's tutorial on JBoss, Eclipse, and BlueDragon prior to the BOF.

  3. We'll end with a Q&A session that could very easily end up at the bar with me buying the first round.

As is common with BOF sessions, the structure will be informal and fluid to accomodate the needs and desires of the attendees; there won't be any formal handouts, though I may create some brief notes (time permitting). All demonstrations will be done on both Linux and Windows.

I'd like to thank all of the cf.Objective() organizers, especially Sean Corfield, for graciously making their venue available and for giving their attendees the opportunity to be the very first to see and touch open source BlueDragon. I've heard cf.Objective() is a great conference and am looking forward to attending for the first time.

BlueDragon open source on CF Weekly podcast

I'm going to be interviewed next week for the ColdFusion Weekly podcast; the topic will be open source BlueDragon. Leave questions for me via voice mail or email (the hosts will decide which questions to ask).

Also, there was a great round-table discussion of open source BlueDragon during last week's podcast--it's well worth listening to if you haven't already.

First community contribution to BlueDragon open source

Wow, that didn't take long. We only made the announcement last week, and haven't delivered the source code yet, but we've had our first community contribution to BlueDragon open source! Adam Haskell has written a tutorial for installing and configuring BlueDragon/J2EE and JBoss to run within Eclipse. This is perfect, because the BlueDragon open source code will be delivered as an Eclipse project for development and debugging. In fact, it was on our task list to write exactly such a tutorial to deliver with the source code. Thanks, Adam!

UPDATE: as noted in the comments, Gerald Guido has provided instructions for installing BlueDragon on Tomcat. These instructions will be exactly the same for the BD open source edition. Thanks, Gerald!

Open source BlueDragon follow-up

Everyone at New Atlanta is extremely pleased and excited with all of the positive feedback we've received regarding our announcement of the free open source BlueDragon edition. Brian Rinaldi has written a helpful overview and wrap-up of blog entries posted in response to our announcement. There's also a thread on the CF-Talk mailing list that contains some interesting comments. If you haven't already, I'd highly recommend reading the blog posts by Alan Williamson--the creator of the tagServlet engine that is the heart of BlueDragon--and by Sean Corfield. Alan and Sean provide insightful commentary on what this announcement could mean for CFML developers.

I'd like to address some of the high-level questions and clear up some misconceptions that resulted from our announcement. We've created a forum on our web site to answer detailed questions; please post any follow-up questions there instead of as comments on this blog entry.

  1. Our goal is to build a user community around the free open source edition of BlueDragon to complement the strong commercial customer base we've built over the past six years. As our commercial customers already do, we'll look to the open source community to provide feedback to help us make BlueDragon a better product; and, to help spread the word both within and outside of the existing CFML community about the benefits of BlueDragon as a web application platform. We hope that some members of the BlueDragon open source community--and some of the people they attract to the BlueDragon open source community--will become paying customers for the commercial editions.

  2. We will continue to actively develop, support, market, and sell the commercial editions of BlueDragon. Release of the free open source BlueDragon edition does not in any way represent a retreat or exit from the ColdFusion-compatible server market. This open source move is not being made from a position of market weakness, but from one of strength. We've developed a large enough customer base and have enough confidence in our ability to retain and attract commercial customers, that we can release the open source edition without fear that it will have a negative impact on commercial BlueDragon sales. We believe we can build the open source community and grow the commercial customer base for BlueDragon side-by-side to the benefit of both. We believe the open source edition will strengthen our position in the ColdFusion-compatible server market and allow us to continue to grow BlueDragon revenue by attracting new users and customers.

  3. New Atlanta's full engineering staff will work on the open source BlueDragon edition. Much as the Fedora project is for RedHat Linux, the open source BlueDragon edition will be our primary vehicle for experimentation and new feature development. When new features reach a sufficient level of maturity they'll be merged into new releases of the commercial editions. It this way the open source edition will lead, not lag, the commercial editions and the open source community will always be at the cutting edge of new feature development. Customers of the commercial BlueDragon editions will be assured that only mature, production-ready software of the highest quality is incorporated into commercial releases.

  4. At least initially, we don't expect a significant amount of software to be contributed to the open source BlueDragon edition by people outside of the New Atlanta engineering staff. For one thing, the BlueDragon software is fairly large and complex, consisting of about 1200 Java classes; it's going to take some time for anyone to come up to speed enough to make significant contributions. For another--as others have noted--it's unclear how many people in the current CFML community have the necessary Java skills to be able to contribute effectively to the code. That's OK, there are other ways to contribute in addition to writing code: testing new releases, filing bug reports, and generally providing feedback to the developers are all extremely valuable ways to contribute.

    The number of "outside" developers contributing code is not an important criterion for the success of open source BlueDragon. The important criteria for success are: (a) do people find it useful? (b) do people tell their friends about it and help grow the community? (c) does the community contribute by providing feedback to the developers? and, (d) does the community feedback get incorporated into future releases, thus making open source BlueDragon more useful and closing the loop started at (a)?

  5. Of course, we'll be very happy to accept code contributions from outside developers and will set up a mechanism for doing so. Like all open source projects, there will be a review process for determining which contributions actually get incorporated into the code. Initially these decisions will be made by the New Atlanta engineering staff; in the long run we'd like for these decisions to be made by the BlueDragon open source steering committee, who will also decide when an outside developer has earned "committer" status.

  6. It's often said that most people are only interested in the "free" and not the "open" in "free open source." That is, most people only care that they're getting something they don't have to pay for and aren't interested at all in the source code. I happen to believe this is true; I've used (and still use) many open source software products for which I've never cared to look at the source code (Firefox and MySQL, to name two). That's OK; the reason "open" is important is that it guarantees that "free" means "free forever." Unlike free--but not open source--commercial products such as ColdFusion 4.0 Express or the free BlueDragon Server edition, which can be "taken away" at any time by their corporate owners, an open source license can never be rescinded. Releasing under the GPLv2 provides confidence to the user community that the free open source BlueDragon edition and all future enhancements to it will always be both "free" and "open."

Again, thanks for all the positive feedback so far, and please post all follow-up questions on our web site forum and not as comments on this blog.

New Atlanta announces free open source BlueDragon edition

New Atlanta has announced plans to release a free open source edition of BlueDragon; there's a press release and FAQ on our web site. Here's a summary:

  • The BlueDragon/J2EE edition will be released under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2). This is the same license used by Sun for the OpenJDK, their open source edition of the Java platform.

  • The free open source edition of BlueDragon/J2EE will be fully featured, with only minor differences to remove dependencies on commercial libraries. The open source edition of BlueDragon/J2EE will be integrated, packaged, and distributed with other open source software such as Tomcat, JBoss, Apache, MySQL, Java (OpenJDK), and Linux.

  • We will continue to develop, support, and market a commercial edition of BlueDragon/J2EE under a dual-licensing model such as that used by MySQL. We are reviewing our pricing model for the commercial edition of BlueDragon/J2EE and will announce any changes in the next few weeks.

  • The BlueDragon.NET and BlueDragon Server JX editions are not being released as open source and will continue to be developed, supported, and marketed as commercial products. We are not planning any changes to the pricing models for these commercial products.

  • The current free (but not open source) BlueDragon Server edition will be discontinued when the open source BlueDragon/J2EE edition is released.

  • The first public "code drop" of the free open source BlueDragon/J2EE edition will happen prior to the CFUNITED-08 conference in June 2008.
In order to make the free open source edition of BlueDragon/J2EE a "community" project as much as possible, we're planning to form a steering committee to help guide future development. Let me know if you're interested in participating in this steering committee. Also, we're planning a Birds-of-a-Feature (BOF) session at CFUNITED-08, which may evolve into the first meeting of the steering committee; stay tuned for more info.

I'm currently in London for CFUNITED-Europe where I'm speaking on Wednesday morning (about "IIS 7.0 for CFML Developers", not open source BlueDragon/J2EE). My wife and I are doing the tourist thing, and I have some customer meetings scheduled, so I'll be slow to respond to comments here and to email until I'm back in the office on Monday. Look for me at CFUNITED-Europe if you're here.

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