Meet me at WSO2Con 2011

WSO2Con 2011 is a technical and IT-Biz conference organized by WSO2 inc, and 2011 is its second consecutive time. Last year the conference concluded grandly and it discussed many technical topics such as enterprise computing, cloud, web services security, enterprise data etc. It concluded with a great panel discussion on the topic “A Walk Down Memory Lane: XML, Web Services & SOA from 1990 to 2010” and the panelists were some of the renowned personalities in XML Web services space.

So the conference is back this year, and it will be on September 12th to 16th at Waters Edge Colombo, There will be two tutorial sessions (12th and 16th) and the conference will span for three days (13th, 14th and 15th). The agenda was recently announced officially, and it surely looks interesting. I guess if you are into Distributed Computing, SOA and Cloud this would be the right place to and the event to be apart of.


Also am quite proud to blog about that I will also be one of the speakers in the 2011 conference, The topic I submitted was “User interfaces in distributed environments” and later I altered it to “Users: The SOA Last Mile” to make it broader.

Main reason for this topic is that I have done some resent work close to the Users of information systems and about delivering information to users effectively and efficiently, I believe I can talk about it, and maybe give some insight about How important the “Last Mile” is. Anyhow I don’t wona write about What I will be talking, coz mainly its still a blank paper for me too 😀

So yeah what I wanted to say is that WSO2Con will be happening on September in Colombo, and I have no doubt that it will be one great tech Conf with a great set of talks and workshops, so hope to see you there soon !!!


Gadgets On the Cloud

There is no doubt that JavaScript/XML gadgets make a great presentation layer over the web with increasing amount of data floating around. The ability of which these gadgets can be embedded in any place over the web, provides a great flexibility, and a wider reach. Google does this quite nicely with their iGoogle gadgets, enabling the gadgets to be embedded in almost any web page. The success of this great idea, would be only logical if all the data, services and mashups are also available over the web with open access or maybe authenticated access. This is where a cloud story fits-in, and this the very reason why Google can do it quite easily.

However, what if you want to do everything from the scratch and also provide a great presentation layer for the users. For an instance, lets say you have a lot of financial data within your enterprise, and you need to provide some of these to your customers, to general public and some for your employees. To do this, you will have to create appropriate data services, maybe mediate or transform some data, integrate with some legacy data sources, create some business work flows, mashup them with some 3rd party services like Google finance or charts and finally expose the end results to the targeted user group. This is where WSO2 Stratos PaaS comes for your rescue 🙂

If your requirements are such, you will need a strong middle-ware platform to full fill all the above tasks, and if its all on the cloud, you will not have to worry about anything other than writing your business logic. Once the business logic is correctly compiled, you can Mashup some of your data with external service APIs, and then write the presentation logic purely on javascript and xml as XML Gadgets and expose them to the users you need. Once the gadgets are published on WSO2 Cloud Gadget Server its just a matter of linking them up in any web page you want over the web.

The above two gadgets are taken from WSO2 Cloud Gadget Server and have linked in to this blog, to convince about the great flexibility and reach it can add-up. You do not need to use the Cloud Gadget Portal as the only place for your data to be presented (Of cause if you are not using other gadget server specific privileges such as inter-gadget communication etc). You can simply use the Gadget Server as your own gadget repository, and encourage users to discover the gadgets and embed them into their own web pages over the web.

To sum up the story I would say, try-out Stratos, try out the available services and you will definitely find out more use cases, and creative ways to use the platform and leverage the advantages of the cloud

WSO2 Stratos – A true cloud story

Stratos Services

Yesterday (1st of June), A little over a 12 developer team at WSO2, took a great middle-ware platform in to the cloud. It’s not just putting all our server products on an EC2 instance, but embedding all cloud-native features into them. The PaaS (Platform as a Service) is named as WSO2 Stratos, which is based on award winning WSO2 Carbon middle-ware platform. As the Alpha-1 release, Stratos offers number of WSO2 products integrated, namely Governance Registry (GREG), Identity Server (IS), Business Activity Monitor (BAM), Mashup Server (MS) and WSO2 Gadget Server (GS).

Stratos is also offered as a downloadable version for the private cloud within your enterprise. If you are quite serious about using SOA for your enterprise and do not need to worry about deployment, scalability and server maintenance, Stratos would be the ideal solution for you.

Linux for human beings

This is a post that should have been written few days back, On April 29th Ubuntu 10.04 – (Lucid Lynx) was released, and I was counting days till it did but couldn’t try it out because of the release work I was doing in my machine. Last weekend (even the work wasn’t quite over) my anxiousness couldn’t rest. I installed the new beast keeping my /home safe. To tell you the truth, the installation process was hardly “linux like”. There were no screens showing any commands executing, nor view of the terminal. What you see is a breath taking slide show (very much windows like, but much sweeter) trying to show off the beauty 😉 and market itself.

Ubuntu - 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)

Well I know many of you already have tried Lucid, and there is nothing new for me to mention, hence I thought of writing few words about Ubuntu’s slogan “Linux For Human Beings”. My history as a Linux user is not that ancient, even though I have used it side by side with a  Windows OS, I’ve never gone total Linux, There were reasons behind. {1} I was afraid it will all break down in the middle of something. {2} It looked like a dark cave with alot of never ending tunnels {3} It was hard for me to troubleshoot on my own (I was a novice). But thanks to Sandaruwan and the never ending virus problems, performance degradation with time in windows, I jumped in to the deep-end. Ever since am a happy man 😉

Before Ubuntu, I have tried Debian and Suse, but with Ubuntu I felt quite safe. There were number of reasons, among them, Canonical released frequent updates and bug fixes (mainly fixes related to hardware drivers). Ubuntu’s is doing major release twice a year with a considerable amount of improvements, and nevertheless its Virus free, ultra fast and very stable for a software development environment.

Being those my reasons, I believe Linux is the answer for many 3rd world countries, to obtain a high IT literacy rate. When Microsoft and other proprietary software vendors are investing in millions and billions to put a full-stop to software piracy (Which as a software engineer I encourage), and when personal computers are sold with these proprietary software pre installed (Ofcause not for free) with prices automatically goes sky high, resulting a normal user to look at a computer as if it is a Jet plane ;).

But for some (many) reason free and open source software is hidden to the normal user world. Of-cause there are few myths associated, One popular myth is that Open source and free software doesn’t come up to the standard of proprietary software, If we forget for an instance that I work for a 100% open source company 😉 , and look at Apache software foundation, where there are plenty of great products (Apache HTTP server, Tomcat, Maven, Synapse et al.), but normally the argument is “A normal user doesn’t care about the server space. What does free software offer for them ?, to listen to music, edit some photos, check email and browse internet” ? And as far as I see this is where Ubuntu places itself. I believe this is why it displays a pretty screen while its being installed and I think so far Ubuntu had done a great Job, and it is ready with a strong and shiny armour, to battle with any proprietary operating system and make it’s mark.

So if you are a normal user reading this article, try new Ubuntu, and when you are buying your next personal computer, ask you computer supplier to give the machine with Ubuntu. I promises you, you will save a hell a lot of money, and it will set you free. 🙂

WSO2 Gadget Server 1.1.0, What to expect

WSO2 Carbon 3.0.0 – code name “Iridium” is just about to release in few more days. as of WSO2’s release strategy, all the products will graduate with their next version on top of carbon based platform. As for the newly released Gadget Server it would be version 1.1.0

Features were frozen for version 1.1.0 and that was in the end of February as I recall. We (the GS team) managed to squeeze in few new very important features to this release.

  • Upgraded shindig to the latest version

This was a bummer, since WSO2 Carbon platform is running on OSGi, if you had to use a non native OSGi project (i.e. Shindig) you will have to create an OSGi aware carbon orbit bundle and make use of it at run time. This was done some time back where shindig was on r734876 revision. In-order to leverage new functionalities such as OAuth, Pub-Sub etc. and to patch the bug fixes we thought of updating the shindig carbon orbit bundle. So now shindig is on r910768 and is quite up to date.

  • i18n internationalization support for gadgets

i18n is not a big deal for Google gadgets since the gadget API itself supports it, What we had to do is enable i18n support in shindig. (Which was already implemented by the shindig community)

  • Inter Gadget communication

Inter gadget communication, seemed to be the hot topic in our forums and webinars, all most in all tech talks we did about the Gadget Server, some person in the audience raised the question about gadget-to-gadget communication. Our answer was “it can be done at shindig level, and we are yet to support it”. So without a long await, with GS v1.1.0 we enabled this feature. The architecture is quite fascinating where there will be zero backend calls and all the communication is done simply on the front-end. Basically each publisher will have a publishing channel and the subscribers can subscribe to this channel. After that its simple pub-sub.

  • The portal will completely run on HTTP transport

This was a limitation we had in our fist release. The portal was running only on HTTPS, and the reason behind was that all WSO2 products are running on secure transport and the Gadget Server is also a combination of some specific components which ran on the same platform. For this release we went the extra mile and enabled HTTP for the portal. So once you go to the login page it will switch to the secure transport (HTTPS) and after successful login you will redirect back to the HTTP non-secure mode. (Of cause you can disable HTTP any time and run the portal purely on HTTPS, it all depends on the requirement.)

One disappointment I have is that we couldn’t integrate OAuth on time. even though it is supported at shindig level we have to do a considerable amount of work from the Gadget Server side to fully support it, hence it is postponed to our next release. You can try the sample OAuth GData Gadget, simply adding it by the URL, and that will work like a charm. (nothing useful but just to let you know that we are only few steps behind on it)

Okey so enough sneak peak 😉 download the Gadget Server pre-beta, play with it, and help us to improve (even in the last minute) by reporting any issues.

Cheers !!

WSO2 Gadget Server is out… Download it !! Play with it !!

Yesterday (16th Dec) WSO2 Gadget Server graduated from its beta status and announced its release. WSO2 Gadget Server is designed to serve as a presentation middle-ware product in the SOA space to smoothly display chunks of service oriented data for the end users.

The solution architecture is based on portal / portlet concept but making it far more simpler. Since the enterprises are more and more leaning towards the cloud and service oriented mashups, visualizing those data should not be complicated. Hence the Gadget Server provides a simple platform to write the data visualization code just in HTML, JavaScript and XML the implementation of the presentation logic cannot make more simpler. It is exactly similar to writing a Google gadget (hosted in iGoogle / Gmail / orkut) to Tweet ;).

As far as it goes the Gadget Server’s applicability for the enterprise is somewhat an enterprise dashboard that can be customized according to the user’s need and governed by the authorities. For an instance if you are a manager of a bank, wouldn’t it be great to have a dashboard forecasting and displaying current and future bank transaction stats and predications, while at the same time in a deferent view having your business schedule, calender, mail/IM, and news as small but clear and interactive portlets.

Yeah so thats, what the Gadget Server does, and the interesting fact is, its simplicity and extensibility, What all you need to know is some HTML and JavaScript. (no need to consult Java / .NET / PHP / SOA experts). So Download it !! Play with it !! Give us some feedback !!

Authoring, deploying and using XML Gadgets in WSO2 Gadget Server

We are about to release The long awaited WSO2 Gadget Server within few days of time. These few days I was doing some documentation and content writing about the Gadget Server, Apache Shindig and Google gadgets specification. My 1st article about authoring gadgets is now published on WSO2 Oxygen Tank as a help/Tutorial for Gadget server users. You can also download the Gadget Server release candidate 2 and play with it. Also Paul had written an interesting article about portals and Gadgets Server’s role.