Click to Start Your Community on Your Stack

‘Tis an exciting time for Java developers everywhere - a plethora of new JVM-based languages and frameworks are popping up every day. ‘Tis also an exciting time to be a developer building with these frameworks or languages. If you are a framework developer or a framework user, you should read on to see how CloudBees is going to make your life better.

Let’s tackle the case of the framework developer first. As you know, it is hard to build out new technologies and even harder to build a community around the technology. As a framework developer, you should surely not be betting your horses on a “build it and they will come” paradigm. If you are not making this bet, then read on.

Chasm

Crossing the chasm*

The first friction point encountered by excited adopters is the post-download instructions step (RTFM anyone?) and I’ll bet my horse that if you don’t get this right, you can never cross the adoption chasm. Preferably, you would want your technology running somewhere to give developers a tactile feel, so that they are vested enough to further try your technology. Ideally, a running instance should be fired up and developers can just continue working on it from there - this is where ClickStarts come in.

ClickStarts

LiferayThe CloudBees ClickStart feature does exactly that. Developers get a running instance of your application - neatly bow-tieing a repository, a Jenkins build, a database and a deployed instance of the application. I have blogged extensively about multiple ClickStarts last month on the CloudBees blog. For developers focused on growing their communities, this is a fantastic resource. Just take your most popular (or all) sample apps, specify them as a ClickStart (relax, it is just a JSON file) and boom, your application is ready to run in the cloud. CloudBees has a number of ClickStarts in our curated gallery, and you can build ones that exist outside the gallery as well.

Our most recent example is the Liferay ClickStart. Installing Liferay requires developers to set up a database, download a special Liferay bundle, read the installation instructions or download a WAR file, and make changes to a configuration file to seed it with right information.  The exercise takes a couple of hours. This is a couple of hours where the developer can be called by his boss and never come back to the app - or worse, yet, decide that it is not worth investing his time on the technology.  On the other hand, the Liferay ClickStart starts up a standard Liferay installation in a couple of minutes.

Thus, it should be readily apparent that ClickStarts eliminate arguably the biggest friction point in a technology’s adoption cycle - the one that gets adopters running with the application. 

ClickStacks
“Hmm - What if my technology is not just a web app? How is this going to help me?” If that is what you were thinking then you are right - ClickStarts won’t help you there. If you have been paying attention to the PaaS space - the solution seems to be, “we are open, fork us and support yourself.” That was a great answer (in 2005) - but it is not so today. Your adopters won’t really be ready, willing or able to run their own PaaS to use your technology. 
 
Wasn’t it about making it easy to support your technology? And when did you last build your own cloud?
 
ClickStacks come to the rescue here. With ClickStack, you can define your custom stack, tell CloudBees how the stack should be set up (through scripts), and the CloudBees PaaS “service-ifies” it (for lack of a better word) and hands a running instance of your app to you on the stack. 
 
ClickStacksClickStacks are used to build the default CloudBees-supported stacks (Tomcat and JBoss). ClickStacks are used to support other interesting stacks such as GlassFish (coming soon). Thus, the GlassFish community can use the stack and see it being used as a deployment option to other stacks like JBoss and Tomcat. Any community member user can easily interact with the community’s stack.
 
ClickStarts and ClickStacks
 

ClickStacks PlayWith these two in place - you can do interesting Lego block building. For example, we built a plain Java stack that can deploy plain old Java apps. We then used it to build a Play 2 ClickStack. Then, we built a simple Play 2 ClickStart application. Thus, someone who wants to try out the Play 2 framework can easily run the application through the ClickStart and their Play 2 app will be running on the Play 2 native stack on CloudBees. If you have a CloudBees account, check it out yourself.

Wrapping up
As a community developer, you must have realized the tremendous potential these two features offer. You can make your stack PaaS-enabled and easily drive developer adoption. 
 
Getting to the other developer in the introduction (I am looking at the Java developer who is consuming frameworks and application runtimes) - just click the ClickStart my man.
PS: ClickStarts have just a bit of a head start over ClickStacks - we have a GitHub page that acts as a community hub for ClickStarts and ClickStacks. You can contribute a ClickStart today; meanwhile, if you wish to see your stack as a ClickStack - please feel free to email me (hsingh @ cloudbees.com) to make that happen.
* Crossing the Chasm: image attributed to marcoderksen on flickr.

Regards,
Harpreet Singh
Senior Director, Product Management
CloudBees, Inc.
Harpreet Singh Senior Director, Product Management CloudBees

Harpreet has 12 years of experience in the software industry. Prior to CloudBees, he was at Oracle and Sun for 10 years in various roles, including leading the marketing efforts for Java EE 6 and GlassFish 3.1. He was also product manager for Hudson, launching it within Sun’s GlassFish Portfolio.
 

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