Thursday May 24, 2007

Slynkr on JavaDB

The first question my boss asked after I got the Slynkr code released as a java.net project: where can I file an RFE for it to install with one click using a JavaDB back-end? Then, as if on cue, the first outside message on the project's dev aliases followed suit: "What are your thoughts about other support for other databases (ie, MySQL and/or Postgres)?"

I may be slow, but I think I see the message. People might just want to use a database other than Oracle (which is what we used for our initial development of Slynkr). Well, guess what? You can do it.

It's not yet a one-click install process (sorry, Eduardo). And I personally haven't yet tried things out with MySQL or PostgreSQL (sorry, Nick). But I do now have instructions for running Slynkr using a JavaDB back-end (aka Apache Derby). If you're wanting to get your own instance of Slynkr up and running, this is currently your best bet. After all, Oracle is a nice database but it's a lot of overhead for just trying something out.

So please, give it a shot. If you run into problems, let me know. Or if you see ways to make things better, update the instructions (that's why they're on a Wiki, after all).

Oh, and by the way... I think that at least MySQL support should be pretty easy also. Here at Sun, we actually have an internal Slynkr instance which is using MySQL. I just don't have instructions for it (yet).

Monday May 21, 2007

Slynkr: Open Source System for Social News, Bookmarking, and Tagging

Slynkr Project Logo

Hello everybody out there reading blogs.sun.com. I'm doing a (free) social news and bookmarking system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like Digg and del.icio.us). It's been brewing for quite a while now, but I just recently got Sun's okay to release it as an open source project.

I hope it isn't too presumptuous of me to base that intro on another project's announcement, but I think it illustrates what Slynkr is all about: sharing and building on each others' work. When you submit something to a social news or bookmarking system, you almost always start with a URL for content which someone other than you wrote. So you build on their work by adding some kind of summary or commentary and a few keywords (tags). Then others come along and build on your work by adding their own tags and voting on whether they think the underlying item is any good. The more people contribute, the better the system becomes.

Of course, that's very similar to how open source software works. The more people contribute, the better the code becomes. That's what we're hoping to gain by making Slynkr open source. It's a usable system today (as you can see at slynkr.sunwarp.net or www.sdnshare.com), but it certainly has room for improvement. We'd love to have your help and ideas to make those improvements happen.

I certainly haven't created Slynkr by myself. Many people have chipped in with ideas and support. These people have been especially involved:

  • Lou Ordorica: original idea, look & feel, and other follow-up ideas and support
  • Jeff Shoup: co-developed the Slynkr code
  • Erik Larson: conceptual input
  • Todd Wichers: hosting support for our slynkr.sunwarp.net instance

I'd also like to thank the people behind sites like flickr, del.icio.us, and Digg. Their development and popularization of practices such as tagging and user-controlled voting were obviously major influences for us in the development of Slynkr.

Thursday Apr 26, 2007

Building "SDN Share"

If you read my entry from earlier today, you know that we've launched a new program called SDN Share. It's a place where developers can share technical information with other developers and, in the process, earn some nice rewards (Amazon gift certificates).

Well we've now received our first bit of outside feedback. It came from Alan McClellan, who posted this comment on our SDN Share blog:

This is a cool site. How did you build it? It it home grown or did you use purchased or open source discussion/forum software?

Thanks, Alan. I'd been looking for an excuse to talk about this. :)

We implemented SDN Share by skinning and slightly modifying an existing piece of software called Slynkr. It's a Java implementation of a web-based service which allows anyone to submit items and then lets anyone else tag, vote, and comment on them (collectively forming what's often called a Social News or Social Bookmarking service).

Going back to the original question of whether this is home-grown or open source software... It's both. Okay, that isn't quite true--but I think it's safe to say that it will be soon. We're well into the process of getting Slynkr released as open source software. So you might want to keep an eye out wherever great open source Java software is created.

Sharing "SDN Share"

Developers are changing. Every day, it seems that interacting with the outside world becomes a larger and larger part of the job. We interact via open source projects, mailing lists, forums, blogs, journals, and more.

As developers change, it's only natural that tech companies' developer programs also change. In our case, that means the Sun Developer Network (SDN). It's always been a great program, providing a ton of information to developers. But one place where it could improve is in getting more information from developers.

That's why we're starting a new branch of this program, called SDN Share. In short, it's a place where developers can share technical content with other developers. Have a snippet of code that solves a common problem? Share it. A script which lets you avoid mundane tasks? Share it. An article which takes the mystery out of some new technology? That's right: Share it.

Once a submission has been accepted, anyone can add to it with some sharing of their own. They can comment on it, tag it, and vote on whether they think it's great or needs some work. This makes the best stuff float to the top, the Java stuff clump together with other Java stuff, and the occasional error get pointed out and corrected. You know--standard Web 2.0 and Participation Age stuff. Kudos to the Diggs, del.icio.uses, and Wikipedias of the world (and others) who came before us in popularizing and evolving these ideas.

I almost forgot the best part--the rewards. You receive points when your submission is accepted and when people vote for it. These rewards can be exchanged for cash which is deposited into a communal account shared by all SDN Share members. Then someday when enough cash has accrued, we will fulfill the longstanding dream of buying the world a Coke.

JUST KIDDING. This touchy-feely sharing stuff has to end somewhere, right? The rewards are Amazon gift certificates, and they're yours to hoard or spend in any way you like. The "How it Works" page provides details on how you get rewards points, and the "Redeeming Points" page explains how you can use them.

So what are you waiting for? I know you have little tidbits lying around that make you a better developer. You might as well share them and earn some free stuff, right? Also, keep an eye on the SDN Share Blog for more information on the program.

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