developerWorks celebrates its 10th birthday this month -- a long time in the world of high-tech. It has evolved from a fledgling developer Web site with articles and downloads covering a few technology areas, to the present vast, Web 2.0-based developer community and resource center covering all major software technologies and all IBM software products. Its evolution has been a bit unusual, especially for IBM, and we thought that you, our users, might be interested in some of what went on behind the scenes. So here are a few comments from the perspective of the developerWorks WebSphere team.
Some of us on the team were working on one of IBM's first developer Web sites even before developerWorks was launched. Our team was a small "under-the-radar" operation, and we were amazed by the magnitude of the developerWorks launch -- the size of the team and the level of support from the very highest levels of IBM. In Silicon Valley, where most of us on the WebSphere team were located, we saw two-page spreads in the daily newspaper and even ads plastered on the sides of city busses announcing this new IBM Web site. From our perspective, two radical ideas guided the launch of developerWorks:
- developerWorks would give away valuable information and resources to a target audience of developers who in large part were not IBM customers, and many of whom might not even like IBM.
- The site would not look or act like an IBM Web site: at least at the outset, it would avoid talking about IBM products and strategies, and even avoid using the "IBM blue" color scheme and the IBM logo.
Of course, some within IBM thought this strategy was a bit batty. But the developerWorks team had a different vision: that if IBM reached out to the thousands of developers worldwide who help drive the technical direction of the software industry, and gave them resources to help them in their daily work, that someday, perhaps years down the line, IBM would be a better and more successful software company.
And so developerWorks was launched, with its un-IBM yellow color scheme, in September, 1999. It was organized around open development technologies such as Java, Linux, and XML, and from the beginning, thanks to its experienced editorial staff, it featured high-quality articles and downloads created by highly experienced and innovative developers from around the world.
The evolution of developerWorks was also quite "un-IBM- like." Instead of strategic growth guided from above, it evolved by gradually integrating small teams within IBM who shared the vision of a great developer Web site. The WebSphere team began a loose coordination with developerWorks, along with other IBM product sites for the Lotus and DB2 brands. Physical distance kept coordination at arms length -- the developerWorks team was located mainly in Raleigh, NC, with Lotus in Cambridge, MA, and the WebSphere and DB2 teams in Silicon Valley. Our communications were limited to teleconferences and e-mail. There was some trepidation -- would developerWorks take over the missions of the IBM product developer sites, leaving the product teams to find work elsewhere?
The developerWorks user community grew rapidly, and the site gradually added IBM product content to its thriving collection of non-proprietary and open-source oriented articles, downloads, and other developer resources. In 2003, planning began to merge all of the IBM developer sites into one integrated site under the developerWorks banner. That took place in June 2003, and a few months later, the disparate Web teams that had been working together via teleconferences and e-mail met face-to-face, many of them for the first time, at the IBM site in Austin.
Instead of conflict over the different missions, there was synergy, excitement about what we could do together, and appreciation of the wide range of skills on the team -- technical editing, Java and Linux, project management, Web and infrastructure development, and usability engineering -- to name a few. That meeting marked the beginning of a huge intensification in serving our developer audience. In addition to an ever-growing repository of downloads, articles, and tutorials, developerWorks began diving into every new and promising Web technology we could find in order to support an interactive community of developers -- including forums, wikis, podcasts, blogs, RSS feeds, code exchanges, developer sandboxes, Twitter, and more.
Through all of these changes at developerWorks, one thing has not changed -- the incredible technical skills of our users and authors, and their willingness to share what they know. For more information on our authors, check out the WebSphere author spotlight page and the developerWorks Author Achievement Recognition Program. Interested in writing an article yourself? See Writing articles for developerWorks WebSphere.
- J2EE class loading demystified
Nine years after publication, this article still attracts many new readers each month. One reason is probably its practical and straightforward explanation of how Java classes are structured and loaded in J2EE and WebSphere Application Server, and how you can structure your J2EE-specified Web modules, EJB modules, and applicationclient modules to avoid the dreaded ClassNotFoundException.
- Developing a standalone Java application for WebSphere MQ
This article shows you how to develop a Java application that sends and receives messages using WebSphere MQ. The application uses the standard JMS and JNDI APIs from J2EE, but does not require deployment in a J2EE application server.
- Building an ESB with WebSphere Application Server V6
This six part article series explains how to use the new messaging engine in WebSphere Application Server to build an Enterprise Service Bus, a crucial piece of SOA infrastructure.
- Advanced authentication in WebSphere Application Server
The advanced authentication features in WebSphere Application Server V6 support a more flexible authentication model with a new, highly customizable authentication framework that is based upon -- and extends -- Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS).
- Using Ajax with WebSphere Portal
You have heard the buzz about Ajax and you are wondering if you can use it in your portal application. Well, you can, and this article tells you how to get started. One of the most expensive actions in a portal is refreshing pages. You can use Ajax to handle many user interaction events and then to apply the updates to portions of the page, without requiring a full page refresh. You can improve your portal's performance, create a cleaner overall portal application architecture, and most of all, make your users happier with such a responsive portal.
- Best practices for software development projects
Most software projects fail. In fact, the Standish group reports that over 80% of projects are unsuccessful either because they are over budget, late, or missing important functions. Moreover, 30% of software projects are so poorly executed that they are canceled before completion. In our experience, software projects using modern technologies such as Java, J2EE, XML, and Web services are no exception to this rule. This article contains a summary of best practices for software development projects, based on IBM experience and the findings of industry experts.
- Using Spring and Hibernate with WebSphere Application Server
If you're considering using Spring or Hibernate with WebSphere Application Server, this article explains how to configure these frameworks for various scenarios. This article is not an exhaustive review of either framework, but a critical reference to help you successfully implement such scenarios. Updated for Spring Framework 2.5 and WebSphere Application Server V7.
- Top Java EE best practices
First published in 2004, this article was updated in 2007 to describe changing technology trends, and to emphasize that many of the practices that the authors thought would be commonly followed were not, based on their extensive consulting experience with the IBM Software Services for WebSphere organization.
- Top 15 WebSphere MQ best practices
Many articles and books offer recommendations for designing message queuing and integrating it into applications. This article simplifies this maze by listing 15 or so widely recognized best practices for using WebSphere MQ to implement message queuing. This article describes the most common best practices in designing, building, running, and maintaining WebSphere MQ solutions in order to achieve the full benefits of WebSphere MQ.
- Recommended reading list: J2EE and WebSphere Application Server
Learn about using Java EE and WebSphere Application Server with this list of essential reading, compiled for customers, consultants, and other technical specialists by IBM Software Services for WebSphere. Updated for WebSphere Application Server V7.
- developerWorks WebSphere zone
developerWorks WebSphere provides product downloads, how-to information, support resources, and a free technical library of more than 2000 technical articles, tutorials, best practices, IBM Redbooks, and online product manuals. Whether you're a beginner, an expert, or somewhere in between, you'll find what you need to build enterprise-scale SOA solutions using the open-standards-based WebSphere software platform.
- WebSphere SOA solutions developer resources page
Technical resources for WebSphere SOA solutions.
- developerWorks WebSphere business process management zone
Access to WebSphere BPM how-to articles, downloads, tutorials, education, product info, and other resources to help you model, assemble, deploy, and manage business processes.
- developerWorks technical events and Webcasts
Free technical sessions by IBM experts that can accelerate your learning curve and help you succeed in your most difficult software projects. Sessions range from one-hour Webcasts to half-day and full-day live sessions in cities worldwide.
- WebSphere-related events
Conferences, trade shows, Webcasts, and other events around the world of interest to WebSphere developers.
- WebSphere-related books from IBM Press
Convenient online ordering through Barnes & Noble.
- developerWorks podcasts
Listen to interesting and offbeat interviews and discussions with software innovators.
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- WebSphere on-demand demos
Download, watch, and learn what WebSphere products and WebSphere-related technologies can do for your company.
- Most popular WebSphere trial downloads
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- Trial downloads for IBM software products
No-charge trial downloads for selected IBM® DB2®, Lotus®, Rational®, Tivoli®, and WebSphere® products.
- WebSphere forums
Product-specific forums where you can get answers to your technical questions and share your expertise with other WebSphere users.
- developerWorks blogs
Join a conversation with developerWorks users and authors, and IBM editors and developers.
- developerWorks on Twitter
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Jim Ramaker is the Managing Editor of the developerWorks WebSphere Web site team at IBM Silicon Valley Lab in San Jose, CA. He is an editor for the following WebSphere products: WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus, WebSphere Message Broker, WebSphere MQ, and WebSphere DataPower SOA Appliances. You can contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org.