ApacheCon Oakland Roundup

2009-11-19 20:15
Two weeks ago ApacheCon US 2009 ended in Oakland California. Shane published a set of links to articles that contain information on what happened at Apache Con. Some of them are officially published by the Apache PRC project, others are write-ups of individuals on which talks they attended and which topics they considered particularly interesting.

Apache Con US Wrap Up

2009-11-16 22:10
some weeks ago I attended ApacheConUS09 in Oakland/ California. In the mean time, videos of one of the sessions have been published online:

You can find a wrap up of the most prominent topics at the conference at heise (unfortunately Germany-only).

By far the largest topics at the conference:
  • Lucene - there was a meetup with over 100 attendees as well as two main tracks with Lucene focussed talks. New features of Lucene 2.9.* were in the center of interest: The new range search capabilities, segment search that improves caching, a new token stream api that makes annotating terms more flexible as well as a lot of performance improvements. Shortly after the conference, Lucene 2.9.1 as well as Solr 1.4 was released so end-users switching to the new version now benefit from better performance and several new features.
  • Hadoop - large scale data processing currently is one of the biggest topics. Be it logfile analysis, business intelligence or ad-hoc analysis of user data. Hadoop was covered by a user meetup as well as one track on the first conference day. The track started with an introduction by Owen O'Malley and Doug Cutting. It continued with talks on HBase, Hive, Pig and other projects from the Hadoop ecosystem.

But also projects like Apache Tomcat and Apache HTTPD were well covered within one to two sessions each.

Currently a hot topic within the foundation is the challenge of bringing the community together face-to-face. Apache projects have become so numerous that covering them all within 3+2 days of conference and trainings seems no longer feasable. One way to mitigate these problems might be to motivate people to do more local meetups potentially supported by ConCom as has already happened in the Lucene- and Hadoop-communities. A related topic is the task of community building and community growth within the ASF. Google Summer of Code has been a great way to integrate new people. However the model does not scale that well for the foundation. With ComDev a new project was founded with the goal to work on community development issues, talking to research, getting students into open source early on. The project is largely supported by Ross Gardler, who already has experience with teaching and promoting open source and free software in the research context being part of the open source watch project in the UK.

Apache Con US 09 brought together a large community of Apache software developers and users from all over the world who gathered in California, not only for the talks but also for face-to-face communication, coding together and exchanging ideas.

Update: Slides of my Mahout talk are now online.

Lucene Meetup Oakland

2009-11-04 06:05
Though pretty late in the evening the room is packed with some 100 people. Most of them solr or pure lucene java users. There are quite a few Lucene committers at the meetup from all over the world. Several even have heard about Mahout - some even used it :)

Some introductiory questions to index sizes and query volumn: 1 Mio documents seem pretty standard for Lucene deployments - several people run 10 Mio neither. Some people even use indexes with up to billions of documents in Lucene - but at low query volumn. Usually people run projects with about 10 queries per second, but up to 500.

Eric's presentation gives a nice introduction to what is going on with Lucene/Solr in terms of user interfaces. He starts with an overview of the problems that libraries face when building search engines - especially the facetting side of life. Especially interesting seem Solaritas - a velocity response writer that makes it easy to render search responses not in xml but in simple templated output. He of course also included an overview of the features of LucidFind, the Lucid hosted search engine for all Lucene projects and sub-projects. Take Home message: The interface is the application, as are the urls. Facets are not just for lists.

Second talk is given by Uwe giving an overview of the implementation of numeric searches and range queries and numeric range filters in Lucene.

Third presenter is Stefan on katta - a project on top of Lucene that adds index splits, load balancing, index replication, failover, distributed TFIDF. The mission of katta is to build a distributed Lucene for large indexes under high query load. The project heavily relies on zookeeper for coordination. It uses Hadoop IPC for search communication.

Lighting talks include talks by

  • Zoie: A realtime search extension for Lucene, developed inside of LinkedIn and now open sourced at google code.
  • Jukka proposed a new project: A Lucene-based content mangement system.
  • Next presenter highlighted the problem of document-to-document search. The problem here is that queries are not just one or two terms but more like 40 terms.
  • Next talk shared some statistics: more than 2s at average leads to 40% abandonance rate for sites. The presenter is very interested in the Lucene Ajax project. Before using solr the speaker set up projects with solutions like Endeca or Mercato. Solr to him is an alternative that supports facetting.
  • Andzrej gives an overview of index pruning in 5min - giving details on which approaches are currently being discussed in research as well as in the Lucene jira for index pruning.
  • Next talk was on Lucy - a lucene port to C.
  • Last talk gave an overview of the findings on analysing the Lucene community.
  • One other lightning talk by a guy using and deploying Typo3 pages. Typo3 does come with an integrated search engine. The presenter's group built an extension to Typo3 that integrates the CMS with Solr search.
  • The final last talk is done by Grant Ingersoll on Mahout. Thanks for that!

Big Thanks to Lucid for sponsoring the meetup.

Hadoop Get Together Berlin @ Apache Con US Barcamp

2009-11-03 21:05
This is my first real day at ApacheCon US 2009. I arrived yesterday afternoon, was kept awake by three Lucene committers until midnight: "Otherwise you will have a very bad jetlag"... Admittedly it did work out: I slept like a baby until about 08:00a.m. the next morning and am not that tired today.

Today Hackthon, Trainings and barcamp Apache happen in parallel. Ross Gardler tricked me into doing a presentation on my experiences on doing local user meetups. I put the slides online.

The general consent was, that it is actually not that hard to do such a meetup - at least if you are have someone locally to help organizing or do it in a town you know very well. There are ways to get support from the ASF for doing such meetups - people help you get speakers, talk to potential sponsors or find a location. In my experience if doing the event in your hometown, finding a location is not that hard: Either you are lucky having someone like newthinking store around. Or you can contact you local university or even your employer to find some conference room that you can use for free.

Getting the first two to three meetups up and running - especially finding speakers - is hard. However you should be able to benefit from being part of an Apache project already and probably know your community and know who would be willing to speak at one of those meetups. Once the meetup is well established, it should be possible to find sponsors to pay for video taping, free beer and pizza.

Keep in mind that having a fixed schedule ready in advance helps to attract people - it's always good to know why one should travel to the meetup by train or plane. Don't forget to plan for time for socializing after the event - having some beer and maybe food together makes it easy for people to connect after the meetup.