|XAware, Open Source||8 Aug 2008 7:35 AM|
|What We've Learned So Far? by billm|
It has been almost six months since the GA release of XAware 5.0, our first Open Source (GPLv2) version. We just released the first upgrade, XAware 5.1 . I thought this would be a good time to review some of what we have learned so far.
We had guessed that there are between one million and five million potential users for XAware. We certainly have confirmed that there are A LOT of people interested in trying it. There have been more than 150,000 downloads of the software in just six months. Here is the XAware downloads chart from Sourceforge.net through June.
BTW, Sourceforge began to have some problems with a data center move in late June, so they stopped reporting statistics. We have moved our download host to the Limelight . So, XAware downloads will no longer show up in Sourceforge statistics, even after Sourceforge gets them working again. The XAware download growth trend has continued through July and into August!
So far, we haven't really done that much to let potential users know about XAware. We posted some ads on Sourceforge.net. You may have seen them? They look like the one on the right. We set up some laptops running XA Designer at EclipseWorld, JavaOne, and OSCON. A lot of people dropped by to take a look. Some industry news sites and blogs have posted some things about XAware. That's it! The high number of downloads must mean that you, our growing number of XAware Community Members, are spreading the word about how XAware is helping you deal with mulitple data sources. That's great! More users means better software for you to use. Keep it up!
We were a little worried at first that potential users might be a little confused by the different flavors of "data integration". I have written before about different use cases and solutions that are lumped together into the "data integration" category, and about the big differences between XAware's composite data access layer for applications and business processes versus ETL-only software that moves data from source to target. We have learned that our users are very smart (which we of course expected). XAware users are using XAware exactly as we intended. We ran a number of surveys ("polls") on XAware.org to find out who is using XAware and for what purposes. The polls show that XAware is being used to do what it does best, provide standards-based reusable composite data access layer for use by applications and business processes build around SOA and RIA design approaches.
You can select the "Results " button at the botton of the Polls frame that appears on XAware.org home page and use the drop down menu at the top to see the results for each individual survey question.
We were also a little worried that potential users might not imeadiately grasp XAware's "contract first" design approach and imeadiately see how to get started. It does take a little bit of backgound knowledge to grasp XAware's concept of creating XML views of data, building runtime dynamic XML data documents called BizDocuments, BizViews and, configuring BizComponents and BizDrivers. We knew that once users grasp the basic concepts, they quickly become masters of turning complex composite data access challenges into child's play. We have invested a lot of effort to create and provide a variety of ways to gain the background knowledge needed to quickly understand and get started using XAware. These include examples bundled with XA Designer, FLASH tutorials that walk through many concepts and use cases, a context sensitive help system, introductory documentation, and an excellent primer document that explains the XAware approach. Based on feedback in the forums, these tools are working well to get most users started easily. Still, we have learned that we need to do more here. Providing more and better methods of quickly understanding and learning how to use XAware and making XA Designer even more usable continue to be top priorities. Please help by continuing to post your ideas, suggestions, thoughts and comments in the forum .
We have also learned that a lot of you want to contribute to help us extend XAware's functionality, especially around specific use cases - for example SAP integration and EDIFACT message processing . We hoped that users would want to contribute in this way and are thrilled to see this happening so quickly. We have accelerated creation of the process and infrastructure to support these projects. You will see a methodology for creating and managing community projects posted on the "Contribute to the Project " page very soon. Watch for it.
The first several months as a commercial open source company has been exciting, rewarding, and very educational. Many thanks to you, the growing XAware Community, for your strong and continued support. With your help we will together acheive our mission of making XAware the most popular way of connecting applications to data.