By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2006-03-20 Print this article Print

Cunningham said all through his career he has been interested in taking long-term looks at "how wisdom is collected in organizations, … especially the wikiwiki Web style of talking about experiences, and the way that large groups of people can communicate." Moreover, Cunningham said, "Eclipse is a shining example of the accomplishments of this methodology. My job at Eclipse is to help developers discover the breadth" of technology and resources available to them under the Eclipse umbrella. "We have a little bit of technology, a little bit of methodology, and a little bit of community. I can have an impact by producing small things. The big things in Eclipse are going to come from the projects. The important thing for us is to recognize how our message is spread and to capture that in pieces."
Prior to his role at Eclipse, Cunningham held a similar position in what he referred to as an open-source group inside Microsoft. But after two years of what he described as "hard" work for the Redmond, Wash., software giant, Cunningham said he was ready to move on.
Click here to read more about Cunninghams departure from Microsoft. When Cunningham said working at Microsoft was "hard," he said he meant geographically it was difficult because he lived in Portland, Ore., and had to travel a lot to work. "Also they had a lot of expectations of me, as in lets do the community thing," Cunningham said. "The community thing is based on trust, but Microsoft was coming out of a period where people did not trust them," he said. "But Im happy to be working on something else, too. And in the end my interest is in developers being able to create and to try to add to that creation." However, part of the attraction to work at Microsoft for Cunningham was "to get to know and understand Microsoft, and I have nothing but respect for them." Indeed, Cunningham said of Microsoft: "They practice software development in its highest form." And though Microsoft is slow to adopt the community model of development, they are headed for it, Cunningham said. "They have to inch toward this community style development, otherwise it would be irresponsible to their stock holders," Cunningham said. "What they do and say is in the best interest of their stockholders. … Microsoft has to be more cautious. And IBM has to be more cautious. Even as a developer in the Eclipse foundation theres a certain amount of busy work that a developer has to do, like keeping an intellectual property log and stuff like that. But this is what you have to do." Meanwhile, Cunningham, who said he has spent years advising about developmental processes, is a major proponent of agile development. He is one of the creators of a collection of patterns that became known as extreme programming. "This is the perfect job for me," Cunningham said of his position at Eclipse. Essentially, agile programming is about getting developers to work together, he said. "If youre a manager and you have 12 tasks and 12 people you are going to give each person a task," Cunningham said. "And you will tell them you want them to work together, but the message you send is not to work together." Moreover, Cunningham said among the benefits of agile development is "the ability to track radically changing business needs." Also, the "code base becomes a point of strength, not a burden to be ignored," he said. "We ask people to embrace the code and that creates a power in developers." Another byproduct of agile development is "the members of an agile team become expert much faster than in traditional development," because they take on different roles and work with different parts of the code, Cunningham said. "It produces senior developers really quickly." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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