Project Zero (FAQ) is producing a set of tooling and runtimes to produce Web applications and Web service providers using agile development techniques. Its programming model leverages Web 2.0 technologies: REST, ATOM, JSON, XML, Ajax, etc. The resulting apps will tend to be not so much enterprise apps per se, but mashups and that sort of thing; apps that are quickly produced, perhaps with limited usage and lifetimes.
It endeavors to be low overhead (practically zero!), with a simple programming model and lightweight runtime that make development and deployment quick and easy. IBM (and other middleware vendors, J2EE/Java EE and .NET in general, etc.) has gotten some criticism that its products are too heavyweight, too complex, don't support agile development, etc.; to the extent this may be true, Project Zero supports development at the opposite end of the spectrum.
A lot of initial criticism has focused on the assumption that Project Zero is or should be open source, which it is not. Project Zero intends to develop and sell commercial products, and so does not want to just give the source code away. But in a new model for IBM (and perhaps the industry), Project Zero is following what it calls a Community Driven Commercial Development process. While this process doesn't make the source code available, it does make the proto-products available sooner so perspective customers can try it out and offer feedback. The project hopes to use this feedback to be able to build the products customers want more quickly and accurately than IBM (and other vendors) have been able to do so in the past. The alternative to this approach is a new version of WAS or WMQ that takes a year or two to produce and that customers don't see until it's finished and too late for changes.
I see an opportunity for synergy between the traditional IBM software middleware products and the products that will come from Project Zero. Products like WAS and Process Server will still be great for hosting service providers that give access to enterprise resources in a reliable, scalable, and secure environment. Then Project Zero products can be used to quickly and easily produce service coordinator apps that mash up the services. This is Kent Beck's vision of abstractors and elaborators coming true.
For more commentary on Project Zero, see:
- IBM Announces New Software, Vision for Community Driven Development (IBM press release)
- IBM zeroes in on Project Zero for Web 2.0 apps (InfoWorld)
- Project Zero Simplifies RESTful Web App Development (Dr. Dobb's)
- IBM Touts Jazzy New Development Strategy (CRN)
- IBM not a hero with Project Zero (The Server Side)
- IBM Unveils Rails-like Web Stack Built Using Java & Groovy - Project Zero (Java Lobby)
- IBM working on Project Zero for development of Web 2.0 applications (TechWhack blog)
- Project Zero (Joe Gregorio's blog)
- IBM’s Project Zero (John Musser's blog)
- Project Zero! (Sandy Carter's blog)
- Project Zero is live (Billy Newport's blog)
- Project Zero (David Currie's blog)
- Project Zero is in the house (Kelly Drahzal's blog)
- Zero (Dave Johnson's Roller blog)
- Project Zero: a new way to build commercial software (Ferran Rodenas's blog)
- a history of transparency (Patrick Mueller's blog)
- Project Zero and why community driven commercial development is good. (Adrian Spender’s blog)