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First published: 10th March 2000

Report from ApacheCon 2000

This is a special report covering the ApacheCon 2000 conference in Florida held in March 2000.

First published 10th March 2000.

The conference ran from March 8th to March 10th, at the Caribe Royal Suites in Florida, USA. The hotel is situated very close to the main Orlando attractions and the sessions took place in the conference center of the hotel. In total, just over 1000 people attended the conference and this included a large number of Apache Software Foundation members. At the very first session of the conference, the opening plenary, the previous record for the most Apache developers in the same place at the same time was broken. Apache Week counted 18 developers during the session, 4 more than at ApacheCon 98. While most people came from the US and Canada, there were also a significant number of people from Europe and beyond. This was the second official Apache conference, the first being held in San Francisco in 1998 with over 500 attendees.

Some initial pictures from around the conference are available from the Apache Week site. In addition, personal pictures from attendee Kevin Burton are available.

Opening Plenary

Ken Coar opened the conference on Wednesday with a plenary session and a song. Joining him on stage was a selection of the current Apache Software Foundation members. Roy Fielding, current president of the ASF, said that the conference provided a unique opportunity to talk to the people who actually write the code. The floor was opened to questions which mostly revolved around the function of the foundation, the Java and XML Apache projects, and the upcoming 2.0 alpha. Roy said that 2.0 would be available "real soon now" and Ryan Bloom promised that an alpha would be available during the week of the conference, or at least a few days after it.

The Keynote Speeches

The first keynote speech was from Dr Alfred Z Spector, Senior Technical Strategist with IBM. Dr Spector outlined IBM's contribution to open-source and particularly their work on Apache 2.0 and that Java and XML Apache projects. The increasing importance of modularity by creating customisable building blocks and code reuse was stressed. The conclusions of the talk were that developers need to be given access to libraries of standard components and better tools to utilise them, and that the education system should be changed to put more emphasis on the use and reuse of components.

Brian Behlendorf gave an energetic look at the internals of the ASF in his keynote session "State of the Foundation". His talk covered some of the reasons that the ASF was formed which includes protection for the individual contributors against lawsuits and the abilty to control the Apache identity. The ASF is the umbrella organisation behind the Apache httpd server as well a number of other open-source projects such as Jakarta and Apache XML. Brian announced that the ASF had currently received over US$35,000 in donations which was quite an accomplishment given that it is not publicised that the Foundation accepts donations. The difficulty for the ASF now is working out how to spend the donations. The FreeBSD project was cited as a good model as it gives grants to developers who needed additional resources for example. For the future a goal for the ASF is to develop a structure to help support new projects, aided by creating a standard framework of developer tools and procedures for running open-source projects.

On Friday the first keynote was given by the president of the Java Software Group within Sun, Patricia C Sueltz. She talked about how Sun views the open source movement. She said that Sun has made three technology bets in the year 2000: computers will need to massively scale, that the network stack will need to be interoperable, and that devices will be always on and always connected. Finally, she talked about how Sun views open source, and addressed some of the criticisms of their current approach. She said Sun was committed to working better with open source, and is working to improve its source license. Various pieces of software have been or will be released to open source groups, including the Tomcat servlet engine and the Xerces XML parser.

The Talks

There were four parallel tracks running throughout the conference, with a total of over 40 classes. Unlike the last ApacheCon the tracks were not themed, and some of the classes took place as "Nightschool" events.

Over the next few weeks the ApacheCon site will be updated to include links to all the talks and papers that were presented. Popular talks on Wednesday included a series of tutorials on starting with mod_perl, Comanche a GUI for Apache, and the Catherdral Meets the Bazaar. The mod_perl tutorials continued into Thursday and was joined by talks about XML, HTTP, and APR. The day classes ended with a well received talk on load balancing for Apache using the Backhand module, mod_backhand.

Talks on Friday covered a variety of subjects, including XML and XLST, PHP, and Apache 2.0. There was also a panel discussion about the future of Apache after 2.0, including a variety of ideas for new features for Apache in the future. This included IO layering (such as the ability for the server-side includes module to parse the output of the CGI module), and replacable configuration engines so that configuration information could be stored in a database instead of a file.

The Exhibition

Around sixteen companies exhibited at the trade show during the conference. Companies present included IBM, Sun Microsystems, LinuxMall, and Covalent Technologies. The exhibition was very popular and reinforced how Apache has built an associated industry. The exhibitors we talked to were very happy with the quality, interest, and response of people that they met at the conference.

Closing session

The final session of the conference consisted of a launch of the first alpha of Apache 2.0. A number of ASF members on stage updated the website and copied the distribution files into the correct locations live of in front of the audience. Announcements were then sent to a number of key sites such as Slashdot and Freshmeat.

This was followed by a session of questions and answers about the conference. In general most of the attendees seemed to like the conference, with positive reaction to the speakers. An interesting point was that was that most speakers knew their subjects very well, and although not all were experienced speakers, they were preferred to excellent speakers without detailed technical knowledge.

Other comments were that the session lengths were just right and that the conference was good value overall. The main critisisms were the fact that lunch was not included in the conference price, the difficulty obtaining meals since BOFs were scheduled at lunch times, and confusion since the 'nightschool' sessions were not included in the 'full conference' registration.

ApacheCon 2000 Europe

Plans are already underway for the next ApacheCon conference, which will be in London in October this year. The conference will be smaller than the US show and tailored towards the European community. The next ApacheCon conference to be held in the US will probably be in San Jose in 2001.

Members meeting

The first meeting of the Apache Software Foundation members took place on the Saturday morning following the conference. A total of 27 of the 38 ASF members were present, together with representatives of the conference organising company, Camelot. A secret ballot was held to elect the new board of directors of the ASF as well as to elect a number of new ASF members.


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