Wednesday, November 05, 2008

W-JAX 2008 OSGi Day

After the rather basic Power Workshop on Monday I attended the OSGi related sessions of the main conference yesterday. Though I was skeptical before - from my experience I often find conference speakers put too much focus on introductions and basic stuff at the beginning just to run short on time later - I was rather happy with the overall outcome.

The first session "OSGi Today and Tomorrow" was held by Peter Kriens of OSGi alliance fame and provided some insight into the history and ideas of the platform which he co-invented. The "tomorrow" portion was rather short - about 5 minutes out of 75 - I would have liked some more information here. However as it was the first session of the main conference I did not expect to dive into much detail here.

After that Matthias Lübken and Martin Lippert of akquinet it-agile GmbH talked about strategies and caveats when "porting" existing applications to use OSGi. I liked that talk even though I do not see why it was marked as "advanced" in the conference program.

The best session of the day (at least for me) was Kai Tödter and Gerd Wütherich's "Patterns and Best practices für dynamische OSGi Applikationen". As far as I am concerned this one would have been better rated as "advanced" material. Using a nice sample application that was used to demonstrate the use of the whiteboard and extender patterns (the underpinnings of declarative services) they provided some interesting ideas and insights. The sample application "Person Manager" is publicly available.

In a higher-level session about "Mobile OSGi for mobile enterprise applications" Joachim Ritter of ProSyst GmbH talked about the problems you face should you try to develop enterprise applications that are to run on mobile devices - especially phones - and a possible solution: their Mobile OSGi platform. It is designed to hide the enormous complexity of mobile operating systems, runtime environments, remote management and provisioning etc. If you are interested in that platform go to their web site and follow the link to Sprint (the U.S. telco provider) and their Titan platform. Though I did not check myself yet there should be a download for a Windows Mobile version including some Eclipse based developer tools - even with debugging and profiling options.

The last session of the day I had already heard at JAX08 in Wiesbaden. Martin Lippert went into the details of class loading in an OSGi environment and how it can both be your friend and enemy :-) This is really a low-level experts talk and even though I listened for the second time I still found it highly interesting and a good conclusion of my conference stay.

Monday, November 03, 2008

w-jax 2008 OSGi Power Workshop

Today I attended the Einführung in die OSGi Service Platform (Introduction to the OSGi service platform) power workshop at w-jax 2008 in Munich. I had hoped to get some more detailed insight into using that stuff in practice. While the workshop was clearly not a waste of time I was a little disappointed about the lack of practical relevance. The workshop was packed with about 50 people - with only 20 registrations.

The first 90 minutes were spent installing Eclipse 3.4 and the Equinox SDK onto the participants' laptops. That time could have been put to better use had the session description not only told to bring a machine prepared with Java 5 but with the whole stack installed. So we had to hand around 5 CDs an some pen drives to get everyone up and ready.

After that and some introductory words about OSGi we went through increasingly "complex" examples and tutorials. Though I understand the idea to explain the inner workings of bundle lifecycle, Activators, package im-/exports and ServiceTrackers in great detail, the examples were really simple and did not display the use of the features in "real world" scenarios.

While I found my understanding of the OSGi services stuff confirmed, I think it was a little sad for those who had no idea about OSGi before, because I doubt the potential of the platform became clear and from what I can tell many people see the whole stack with a lot of scepticism.

Tomorrow I'll attend several sessions about OSGi, one of them about how to port existing applications to OSGi. I hope this will be a little more in-depth.