Last week at the 17th Annual Jolt Product Excellence Awards (dubbed "the Oscars of our industry") ceremony at the SD West conference in Silicon Valley, IBM developerWorks received what many agree is the software development industry’s highest honor for a product or resource: The Jolt Hall of Fame award. Here are a couple of trophy photos (courtesy dW open source editor Mark Cappel):
The “Hall of Fame inductees are consistent winners, whose high quality has been proven and maintained over time,” the Jolt awards site notes. Only one inductee is recognized with this award each year. This year the judges unanimously selected developerWorks, specifically praising our rich collection of quality how-to articles and tutorials.
Jolt awards ceremony host Craig Newmark (of Craigslist) introduced the award:
The Hall of Fame always generates lively discussion amongst the judges ... but this year, there was a quiet consensus. It was pretty unanimous that it was time to induct this giant into the JOLT Hall of Fame. This year’s winner is a treasure trove of IT-related topics and technologies and often has better technical articles than commercial publications and in many instances, is one of the few places anything is available. This year’s inductee is: IBM developerWorks.
I was thrilled to be at the awards ceremony in person to receive the award. (Don't let the serious expression fool you.)
In my brief moment on stage, I thanked the judges and thanked CMP Technology (which runs SD West, a.k.a. the "Software Development West 2007 Conference and Expo," and publishes Dr. Dobb's Journal). I then congratulated the editors and broader team at developerWorks who all play key roles in our success, and the many authors -- both inside and outside IBM -- who share their technical expertise in our thousands of how-to articles and tutorials.
I also thanked the leadership at IBM for embracing and supporting what is an unorthodox vision and strategy for a vendor site, one that I’ve championed since coming from JavaWorld at IDG in 1999 to become founding editor-in-chief of developerWorks: Prioritize the wants and needs of the developers. That is, focus not simply on company messages, or promotion of company products, but more broadly on any information and resources that are critical to developers.
Looking back, I’m impressed by how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown in the last seven or so years. In 1999 we had about a half dozen zones (sections of the site that in many ways each resemble a stand-alone online magazine). The press release announcing developerWorks and the related article about dW's launch that appeared in CNN describe our focus on providing “product- and platform-independent information” and our “rich blend of tools, code, tips, news, tutorials, and how-to articles, all based on cross-platform technologies and strategies.” Those statements, as well as our open, cross-platform, standards-based focus, remain true today –- but we’ve expanded considerably.
We now host three times as many zones, covering a wide array of open technologies as well as IBM products. We now offer four region-specific, localized sites (dW China, dW Japan, dW Korea, dW Russia), in addition to our global site based in the U.S. We offer an ever-growing array of community-driven resources, greatly expanding our discussion forums and adding more resources, including blogs, podcasts, and our recently announced community-oriented developerWorks exchange. (dW will offer more on the community/Web 2.0 front in the coming weeks, too. Stay tuned.) And dW is not an online-only entity; we offer a rich set of tech briefings as well as other events and offline resources. The result: In our short history, developerWorks has grown into a community of (at last count) 5.7 million registered developers.
The bottom line: This simple strategy we embraced in 1999 has worked amazingly well and resonated with developers -- including many who, at least at first, did not (or as my bosses may say, "did not yet") have interest in IBM products or services. I thank then-director Gina Poole and manager Dirk Nicol for believing in and strongly supporting this enlightened vision, and the continued support from our current management, including Scott Bosworth and Kathy Mandelstein, as well as the continued support of our stakeholders and executives throughout IBM, including Steve Mills and Sam Palmisano. As evidenced by this Hall of Fame honor, the strategy continues to serve us well.
Equally important is the talented staff at developerWorks. Without their dedication and hard work, even the best strategy would fail. Kudos to each and every member of the dW team for your contributions to our success. This award honors you.
And most importantly, I thank the developer community that has come to rely on developerWorks as a trusted resource, and whose members (I hope) occasionally tell their colleagues about the great stuff we offer. We exist to serve you. And we encourage you to participate: Post to our discussion forums. Read and comment on our blogs and articles. Rate our content. Subscribe to our newsletters. Use our Atom and RSS feeds. Download our trial software and technologies. Use the many services and alpha technologies offered by our sister site, alphaWorks. Attend our tech briefings. Suggest content ideas or articles (including content you may write) to the dW editors. Or, if you like, just add your comments here.
In any case, thanks for your continued participation in the developerWorks community. We hope the next seven years are as rewarding as the last seven, and hope you'll join us on the journey forward.
dW and IBM also enjoyed other big honors at the Jolt awards event. The photo below reflects three IBM awards. Shown here are (clockwise from the top) award recipients IBM Fellow Grady Booch, who won the exclusive Dr. Dobb's "Excellence in Programming Award" (pictured in the poster); yours truly, dW EIC Michael O'Connell, holding the developerWorks Jolt Hall of Fame Award; and book author and IBM Rational Practice Leader Scott W. Ambler, holding his Jolt Productivity Award for the technical book Refactoring Databases he co-authored with Pramod J. Sadalage.
Congrats to Grady and Scott!
Two frequent developerWorks authors (but not IBM employees) also were among the co-authors of the technical book that won the Jolt Product Excellence award. Congratulations to dW contributors Brett McLaughlin and Gary Pollice, who (along with David West) co-wrote the winning title, Head First Object-Oriented Analysis & Design. And congrats to all of the Jolt winners.
Update, 3 Apr 2007: Today Scott Laningham, dW podcasts host and editor, led a lively discussion about the history and significance of the Jolt awards with Rosalyn Lum, who manages the Jolt awards; Larry O'Brien, veteran Jolt awards judge who helped launch the awards in 1990; and myself. Listen to the chat -- or read the transcript -- for more insight and perspective on the awards. (You can also read about the very first Jolt awards.)