Courtesy of Rich Seeley and SearchWebServices.com, I caught up with the recent announcement from IBM Rational at their IBM Rational Software Development Conference going on in Orlando.
Rich paraphrased David Locke, director for IBM Rational Worldwide Marketing Strategy, stating that “the next generation tools that the Jazz project is expected to create will aim at providing real-time collaboration of geographically dispersed project teams through things like embedding instant messaging technology into development tools.” There are a few things that occurred to me after reading this.
First, the idea of “open commercial” is quite interesting. IBM Rational still intends to develop “fully commercial” products, yet they’re doing it through a very open process. As long as the community doesn’t revolt on them for wanting their time without somehow sharing the profits, this could be successful. While I’ve never seen studies on it, I still suspect that the bulk of open source products are still strongly subsidized by paid staff of companies that are making money from it (e.g. IBM, MySQL). I’m sure IBM and BEA both have paid staffers who spend all of their time on Apache projects.
Second, the mention of instant messaging brought up recent memories for me. While I don’t think anyone has noticed, there’s a link at the top of this blog labeled “Talk to Me”. As an experiment, I put a Google Talk widget on the site. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the way I’d like it to. Effectively, I wanted it to be pre-configured with a buddy list of me, without the ability to chat to anyone else, or maybe just to people visiting my blog. There wasn’t a way to do it. I looked into other systems, but didn’t find a way to integrate with my existing IM clients. To make Google Talk work, I had to post instructions on adding me to the buddy list, which isn’t that great of a solution. Anyway, my point with all of this is that it’s a big challenge on figuring out how to integrate all of these things. I was listening to the latest Monkcast from ZDNet and Redmonk and listening to the guys reminisce that at one time years ago, Microsoft Exchange was winning because of its simplicity. I will certainly agree that keeping things simple can be beneficial, but eventually there becomes a need to integrate all of these smaller, simple items into something that is more functional and efficient. Balancing those tradeoffs is not an easy problem. Here again, I think there is power in the masses and opening it up to the community. The last thing we need is an embedded and isolated IM client, and that’s just one example. Personally, I hope that the community looks into some of the lightweight capabilities provided by things like the MacOS X Dashboard and Vista Sidebar and see if we can get the simplicity of these low-functionality interfaces but yet allow “right-time” integration with the tools we’re using the majority of the time.