OSCon 2007 Summary

OSCon 2007 is a wrap, but the positive ripple effects will be felt for a while.

The energy level was high throughout the conference. Anyone who thinks the free software movement is losing steam or is in tumult is wrong. OSCon 2007, the parallel Ubuntu Live conference, and the release of GPL Version 3 are a testament to that.

The tutorials on Monday and Tuesday were excellent. It’s well worth the investment to arrive early for these 1/2 day sessions. I caught David Goodgers ‘Code like a Pythonista’, Justin Gallardo’s ‘Programming for OLPC’, and Toby Segaran’s ‘Data mining from Open API’s’ . I missed the Django Master class, which I really wanted to squeeze in.

We had a small SnapLogic booth on the show floor, and there was a lot of traffic. We had an Apache Log merge, the SugarCRM Data Mart, a QuickBooks/SugarCRM customer merge, and a QuickBooks/SalesForce mashup all set up to show to folks. It was nice to be able to drill into the code behind these, with an audience that actually understood the internals. The biggest downside to having a booth is the need to staff it during the main conference sessions, so I missed out on a lot of sessions. On the other hand, the conference floor gets quieter during sessions, so it’s was a good change to drill down deeper.

Slides from my Thursday morning session on data services have been posted on the conference site, along with most of the other sessions. The concept of data as a REST service makes sense to a lot of people, and there was a lot in interest in the SnapLogic approach.

OSCon was an interesting contrast to Mashup Camp. It’s a different category of developer and conference, yet theres a lot of commonality in the need for data access independent of the application or usage of that data.

The overlap between Web 2.0 and the Open Source movement is obvious, while at the same time there are big differences. Open Source clearly shows it’s historical roots in freedom, while many of the Web 2.0 users are often required to compromise those freedoms to become part of the community. This is a fundamental philosophical difference, and I expect the commonality between these groups to become less and less in the coming years. There is also a difference in the view of the user’s computer as the platform, versus the browser as a platform, and this theme came up a lot in conversations. Perhaps Jimmy Wales and his new Wikia effort will stir the pot a little ?

My favourite talk was r0ml on ‘A Lexicon for Open Source‘. James Larson wins in my entertainment category with with ‘Pimp My Garbage’. There were many other Makers at the conference, and since my favourite programming language has always been solder, it was hard to resist their influence. In the end, I capitulated and picked up a Tux Droid. Theres no better combination than Python and a Tux Droid with programmable firmware to hold off the urge to warm up the soldering iron. Funny thing, the TSA folks at Portland airport really didn’t bat an eye when it went through the scanner – I’m sure it wasn’t the first one they saw.


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