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by jcannon on November 27, 2007 06:41pm
For those who've been participating on Port 25 since the beginning, you may have noticed two recurring themes. One, Microsoft has a focus on generativity - or the ability for technology to be extensible to others, be they community or commercial developers. Windows, Office - the Live APIs - are all examples of the ability for technology to serve a purpose, and allow others to build new purposes simultaneously. The other is a focus on supporting and growing business partners. Over the past two years, we've talked to great partners like Centrify, BitRock, Quest and Mindtouch. In fact, the latter re-enforces the former.
Today is no different - we're glad to have Mindtouch return with a guest blog from Aaron Fulkerson, Mindtouch Co-Founder, with an update on their .net-based open source, cross-platform wiki solution. Take it away, Aaron.
Since we last talked MindTouch has managed to propel itself into the pole position of our space. Specifically, MindTouch's Deki Wiki is the most popular commercially supported wiki there is. Our rate of adoption outpaces our most well-known competitor by a factor of 30x.Our software is currently being downloaded and installed more than 700 times a day and growing.
Why? How? Well, first of all, we've listened intently to our community of users and it has grown to an active and vibrant group of a couple thousand who have translated our application into 7 languages, filed bug reports, written code patches, and developed application extensions. They've also been very active in steering the product road map. Next, we've developed a compelling platform. The only platform in this space in fact. What I mean by "platform" is two fold. Deki Wiki has the most complete API. Deki Wiki's API has 99 REST-based methods and make it very easy to integrate the wiki or to build new applications, learn more here: http://wiki.opengarden.org/Deki_Wiki/API_Reference. Point two, Deki Wiki has a web-service extension model that makes it the most extensible in this space. Finally, what's really set us apart from any other applications in this space is that MindTouch's Deki Wiki facilitates, even for non-technical users, the ability to create and share of application and content mashups. This will become clear in the demo video.
I should mention Deki Wiki is developed in C# on .NET and it is compatible with Mono. Extending it is language agnostic and it's platform independent thanks to the good folks working on Mono at Novell. Watch the demo video, I'm certain you'll be impressed with the power, usefulness, and uniqueness of what MindTouch is building. Then go download and install. It's free, open source, and thanks to the VMware certified image it can be installed in just over 5 minutes.
Thanks for having us Jamie and Port 25.
by jcannon on November 08, 2007 03:14pm
Our own Hank Janssen gives the Channel9 team an update on the work that has been done to provide a native driver to SQL Server for PHP.
"SQL Team Says: "The SQL Server Driver for PHP (October 2007) Community Technology Preview (CTP) is designed to enable reliable, scalable integration with SQL Server for PHP applications deployed on the Windows platform. The Driver for PHP is a PHP 5 extension that allows the reading and writing of SQL Server data from within PHP scripts. It provides a procedural interface for accessing data in all Editions of SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2000 (including Express Edition), and makes use of PHP features, including PHP streams to read and write large objects."
Wow. This is cool. Need to find out more about this. What exactly is this thing? Why did we create it? What are the platform requirments? Is it open source? Who are the folks behind this? You know the C9 drill. Tune in and meet SQLPHP Program Manager John Bocharov and Microsoft Open Source champion Hank Janssen who answer a bunch of questions and provide good context about the thinking behind SQLPHP, history and future. Check it out.
by jcannon on November 20, 2007 02:19pm
Abstract: We have all run into cases where Windows fails to load for one reason or another. The problem may be hardware or a software failure, and the problem may seem to be irrecoverable. Yet often Linux can be used to help recover data that otherwise might be lost. Another application of using Linux recovery is in the creation of disk images for post-mortem analysis of security breaches. While such images are not created according to forensics standards (which usually requires special hardware) and would not be likely to be of help in legal cases, they are helpful in internal reviews following such incidents.
Note: This paper represents testing and documentation in a lab environment. User Account Control (UAC) is an essential security component to Windows and Microsoft does not recommend turning off UAC in production environments.
by Sam Ramji on November 08, 2007 10:05pm
Back in Windows 95, Microsoft made a major contribution to accessibility to computers for people with vision and hearing impairments: MSAA, or Microsoft Active Accessibility. At that time it was an additional download, but from Windows 98 on this technology was built into the OS.
MSAA allows users to run screen readers, Braille devices, and other accessibility technologies that work across multiple desktop programs without requiring custom adapters for each program. Back in 2000, Rob Sinclair, now our Director of Accessibility, published the architecture for MSAA. It continues to be a core part of the OS in Windows Vista (detailed information here: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms788733.aspx )
Why am I talking about this? It’s background for some work we’ve been developing with Novell to improve cross-platform accessibility experiences, which we’ve announced today – work by Rob Sinclair and Norm Hodne at Microsoft and Michael Meeks at Novell, along with our legal teams.
Update: See Michael Meeks' blog on the work here: http://www.gnome.org/~michael/activity.html#2007-11-09
The User Interface Automation (UIA) specification is an advanced accessibility framework, and we are releasing this to the community, including an irrevocable pledge of patent rights for anyone implementing the specification. Novell will build a Linux implementation of the UIA and an adapter to make it work well with Linux accessibility projects. This will mean an advance in interoperable accessibility.
We’ve already gotten great responses from the National Federation for the Blind in the U.S. and from Janina Sajka, the head of the Open Accessibility Work Group at the Linux Foundation.
It is great to see the industry coming together with specs, words, and code to build a better world for people with disabilities.
by Bryan Kirschner on November 09, 2007 12:42pm
I blogged awhile back about “Microsoft and open source growing together”—more in the sense of concurrency rather than causality. Today I’m blogging about the latter. I’ve found the graphic below to be one of the most powerful visual representations of a basic fact that is often forgotten. The surface area of the globe below represents the total number of the people working in the technology ecosystem and all the economic activity in that ecosystem. The little square in the Redmond, Washington area is shown—at scale—Microsoft’s relative size by number of employees and annual revenue. It’s 0.05% of the total ecosystem, according to a Harvard Business School study.
The point this drives home for me, in a very intuitive way, is that any smart technology company would be foolish not to think about participating in that larger ecosystem with business partners, developers, and user-innovators. There’s simply a vast amount of passion, intelligence, and entrepreneurial spirit outside the boundaries of any one firm.
I was reminded of this profound point when I watched Sam’s interview of Allison Randal (IMHO, one of those people in that broader ecosystem whose passion and intelligence anyone would be a fool to ignore). There was a phrase used in that interview describing her perspective on the open source community: “the principle that everyone deserves to participate.” Today Microsoft and Novell announced something that couldn’t be a better example of companies thinking hard—and being willing to take some risks—to participate in that broader ecosystem, guided by the principle that everyone deserves to participate.
The size of that little block in Redmond may be small relative to the total ecosystem, but—no bones about it—Microsoft is a successful company, and as a result Microsoft invests a lot ($7B a year!) in R&D. Among the results of those investments are accessibility technologies: User Interface Automation (UIA) is which is an accessibility framework that simplifies the development of assistive technology products. What Microsoft and Novell announced today is about working together to bring UIA to a broader developer and user community, enabling creation of accessible products across both Windows and Linux platforms. On the Microsoft side, Microsoft will make available its User Interface Automation (UIA) specification, which is an advanced accessibility framework that simplifies the development of assistive technology products for people with one or more disabilities, for implementation regardless of platform, in the open source and proprietary software communities.
On the Novell side, Novell will develop and deliver an adapter that allows the UIA framework to work well with existing Linux accessibility projects--Novell’s work will be open source and will make the UIA framework cross-platform while enabling UIA to interoperate with the Linux Accessibility Toolkit (ATK), which ships with SUSE Linux Enterprise, Red Hat Enterprise, and Ubuntu Linux. On a strictly emotional basis, it feels pretty good to come to work on a day when the big news is about create a cross-platform solution that will provide people with disabilities greater access to computer technology. But since I cited Harvard Business School to explain why participating in the broader community was a business imperative, let me take a little more of a hardcore business approach: Any technology company that wants to stay in business needs to think about reaching beyond the boundaries of their little “box” in the graphic above. Any technology company that really wants to succeed, in ways nobody—whether their shareholders or their competitors—could have predicted needs to think about both reaching beyond the boundaries of their box and making that big globe even bigger. If you can figure out how to grow participation in that larger ecosystem—well, there’s that much more passion, intelligence, and entrepreneurial spirit out there to engage with. Today, Microsoft and Novell just took a step toward making that big world even bigger by working together across the boundaries of each firm, and across the traditional lines between proprietary and open source software development. It feels really good to come to work today because of this single event—it feels even better to me because I am very confident this is an example of Microsoft and open source growing together—causality, not concurrence. This is the shape of things to come--remember you read it here on Port25 first.
by Paula Bach on November 07, 2007 02:22pm
I’ve been on the road..
In September, I went to Limerick, Ireland for the 10th European Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW) conference. Computer-supported cooperative work is a sub-sub-discipline of computerscience and a sub-discipline of Human Computer Interaction (HCI). CSCW researchers look at groupware, how people collaborate, and tools that support collaboration. They also do ethnographies to find out how people collaborate. Jonathan Grudin in MSR has researched extensively in CSCW and came up with an early idea called critical mass, which refers to the success of groupware. One of the tenets for groupware to succeed is for it to reach critical mass. This means that many people use the system. If only a few people use the groupware system, after a while, it will fail.
I participated in the doctoral colloquium. This venue is a common event at academic conferences where graduate students get informal feedback about their research from established researchers in the field. I received helpful feedback including advice about characterizing the HCI and OSS communities and finding out what the different members of OSS communities think usability is. The nice thing is that I have this information in the OSS survey data.
I had not been to Ireland before, and have not been in Europe since 1989. Limerick and Ireland in general are experiencing an economic boom, mostly because of the IT industry. Young folks have nice clothes, nice cars, and do lots of drinking. The conference dinner was held at at the Bunratty Castle. It was really nice and full of history.
I had an interesting conversation with Volker Wulf. He has written two books that are interesting for my work, but in the conversation I had with him, I was describing my research to him and he asked me about the tool that I will be designing for CodePlex. I mentioned that the project is sponsored by Microsoft and is a joint effort with CodePlex and MSR. He said, and I quote, “Micosoft doesn’t do open source.” And I emphatically replied, “yes they do!” I talked about CodePlex, Port25 and the open source website.
Now Europe knows.
Last week I was at the Free Open Source Software Symposium in Toronto, Canada. I like visiting the homeland, even though I am from the other side of Canada. The annual symposium is an effort put on by Seneca College School of Computer Studies in the greater Toronto area. The applied program offers courses in open source software development. The courses are in partnership with the Mozilla Foundation. Several Mozilla developers come to the college to talk about open source. Because of this partnership and because of their focus on open technologies, they have established a niche program dedicated to open systems. Bryan Kirschner (of Port25 fame), Mike Beltzner (of Firefox User Experience fame), Bob Young (of Red Hat fame), and many other key players in open source were there. I presented some findings from my open source survey and received good feedback. It was the first timeI had looked at the data in a while and there are some interesting things going on. One is that it appears that most of the people who responded to the survey call themselves usability advocates. It will be interesting to see how advocacy plays out in terms of usability expertise.
I interviewed Mike Beltzner and a couple of people from the Fluid Project. I got some more names of people to interview and after I get my dissertation proposal written and defend it, I will go full steam ahead with interviewing. I can’t wait. I am in consultation with a couple of statisticians for ways to analyze the survey data from both the Microsoft and OSS surveys. I am working with some other graduate students to look at the role of usability expertise in Microsoft, using the data from the internal studies. This will be interesting to see the difference between the two software development environments with respect to the role of usability expertise.
Well that’s the news from Penn State.
by Sam Ramji on November 09, 2007 06:59pm
Sam recently interviewed Daniel Lopez, Founder and CTO and Erica Brescia, CEO of Bitrock from their Spain headquarters. Daniel and Erica discuss their experiences and challenges developing open source applications and launching the BitNami project. BitRock makes open source software easier to use by providing a complete automated solution for Open Source Application Deployment.
by kishi on November 06, 2007 03:21pm
I have been working as a Senior Program Manager with the Open Source Software Lab since the fall of 2005. After spending two of the most eye-opening and fantastic years here, sadly, time has come for me to move on. I am taking on a role in a different division inside of Microsoft but having been attached to Port25 for such a long time, I didn’t want to leave without writing my parting thoughts. You see, when I started my work with the Open Source Software Lab, I had no idea who Bill Hilf was or his role at Microsoft. So when I first came to speak to him about this opportunity, I was driven purely by the job description, the first line of which read “Everything is connected”. After talking to Bill, when I came back and searched for his name/credentials on the web, needless to say, I felt like a total idiot. Here was someone, who was literally the Linux and Open Source “guy” within Microsoft and I had no clue about his background whatsoever....taught me that I should have done better homework . After going through the interview loops and meeting up w/ some sharp minds in OSSL, I was very attracted to the opportunity and came on board.
Anyway, I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing people on this time, Sam Ramji, Hank Janssen, Michael Francisco, Steve Zarkos, Tom Hanrahan, John Kew, Anandeep Pannu to name a few. In the process of understanding and learning about Linux and Open Source technologies, I also learnt a whole lot about driving change through people, technology and especially practices (Sam – Thank you!). In my two years with the OSSL, I got the opportunity to REALLY push the boundaries of conventional or deep-rooted thinking. I was able to work on my pet projects/areas of interest such as Systems Manageability and IT Operations. I spent this past summer building the Interop Lab in Cambridge, MA – something I enjoyed whole-heartedly. I got face time with thought leaders like Miguel De Icaza and rubbed shoulders with creative thinkers like Tom Hanrahan. The experience that I am walking away with is quite profound at many levels. Let me explain why: You see, this team is so unique in what it does, that it’s perhaps one of the few places which has the ability to drive change inward and outward. In my experience here, I have not only seen the ground shift beneath my feet but have also tremendous progress towards community involvement and understanding as it relates to Linux and Open Source. The wisdom I am walking away with can best be captured by something Margaret Mead wrote “Never under estimate the power of a few committed people to change the world “. I say that with the utmost passion because the intellectual horsepower, pure passion and pace that I have witnessed in this group is hard to ignore or imitate.
Some other thoughts that I am taking with me are how much effort goes into simply undoing misconceptions and misunderstandings. Working in this group and watching Bill, Sam, Hank and all these guys work – I realized how committed we are to building bridges and doing a great job of listening as well as being understood. So, after working with Open Source enthusiasts and Windows professionals side-by-side, I whole heartedly endorse something F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a while ago “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function“
In conclusion, I would urge the Open Source Community to really look at how far we have come in the past two years alone. Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself the work done on Port25 and http://www.microsoft.com/opensource
As always, your thoughts and comments are ALWAYS welcome…………….. Alvidaa (That’s urdu for Farewell)