Letters from a Gaming Newbie

I was pleased to attend Casual Connect this week and talked about how HTML5 is becoming viable for games development, alongside my colleague Mark, who covered the Chrome Web Store in general. I was definitively there in a purely web geek capacity, as gaming is not an industry I’m very familiar with. So here are a few things I learned:

  • Casual gaming is quite distinct from “hardcore” gaming. (as @Eastmad reminded me on Twitter.)
  • Casual gaming is heavily intertwined with “social” gaming these days – games on Facebook et al.
  • The social network is just “the graph”. At least for some games, they’re architected to separate “the graph” from the core game logic, so you can swap in and out different social networks. The graph is of course essential for gameplay with social games as well as viral adoption.
  • The industry is mature – there is a clear ecosystem of companies with different roles. Studios make games, publishers distribute them, portals aggregate them, social networks provide the graph. And then there are ad networks, analytics, hosts/caches, development tools, virtual currency providers, consultants. (Very cool seeing how any vertical quickly evolves into a distinct industry structure. Adam Smith approves.)
  • The industry is sophisticated. There is a big aspect of number-crunching, analytics-driven, thinking, e.g. pinning down the cost of customer acquisition. There’s a feeling that monetization is the best growth opportunity right now, more so than increasing the number of players. 1-2% of people spend, whereas with Massive Multiplayer Online games and in Asian markets, 5-10% is more common.
  • Trends to watch: Streaming games (Gaikai, Onlive) – It’s amazing it actually works, but these are technologies that treat the user’s computer/browser as a dumb terminal and stream the game’s video down to them; location based games, merging real and virtual worlds; embedding games into the fabric of the web (e.g. through widgets etc), so they’re not just isolated in social network sites and dedicated game portals; combining genres, so that hardcore gamers can interact with their casual gamer friends; using multiple channels in clever ways, rather than just porting the same game to ten different platforms.

Upcoming: UXCampEurope and SWDC

Google I/O is over and I’ll post a bit about the HTML5 hack session I ran later, but here I want to highlight a couple of upcoming sessions in Europe:

UXCampEurope. If this is anything like the Bay Area and London UX camps I’ve been fortunate to attend, it will be huge, and being Europe-wide and in Berlin, this expectation might just be met. I was sitting on the browser along with @mattlucht hitting refresh 10 times a second when the tickets were released at the start of the year! I’ll set up a slot called “What did HTML5 ever do for users, anyway?”. I’m planning to overview some of the features of HTML5 and its evolution from Ajax, and ask how it might be used to improve UX. It’s a camp, so I’ll also be hoping to collect contributions and writing them up somewhere.

SWDC. The first Scandinavian Web Developer Conference and Peter Svensson is organising, so I know it will be an awesome event, and the sessions speak for themselves. I’ve bumped into the guy twice in the past month – he travelled from Stockholm to DC for JSConf, and again to SF for I/O. My session is on the mobile day, called “HTML5 Gives You Wings”, focusing on HTML5 techniques for performance and app-like behaviour. Here’s the summary:

Welcome to the dynamic world of mobile development, where new browsers stay close to the edge and HTML5 is already a reality. Despite the impressive advances, many mobile apps are still bottlenecked by the network and compact processors continue to lag behind their desktop counterparts. So how can HTML5 help? This talk will focus on those features of HTML5 that are interesting for performance optimisation and the techniques for emulating native apps, such as offline data storage.

Open World Forum Notes

As mentioned in the previous post, I was at Open World Forum in Paris these past couple of days. Previous notes covered today’s FOSSBazaar workshop, here’s a veritable panaply of miscellany from the other sessions.

Opening Keynotes

Risk of balkanisation in communities govt (mil.forge) commercial (gcode) ?developer (eclipse)

Worldwide IT spend 3.48T 18% of apps abandoned 55% “challenged”

Poprietary software quality 20-30 defects/kloc Open source 1-2 defects/kloc

Redhat vp (tieman) “free” means the product “ceases to exist” … It’s all about services

OSOR – Exit costs as or more important. If the cost to enter is free, exit costs become very important. Vendor lockin=no exit.

James Besson – Whiter Open Source

Open source isn’t new. e.g. Steam Engines – exchanged detailed information about their engines and what kind of efficiency. Personal exchanges, visits, publications, industry/engineering institutions.

Great inventors – had great PR. [similar comments in recent BBC IOT podcast on Leibnitz vs Newton]. We have “hero” status partly because of proprietary conditions. [Also it’s human nature].

The great innovations were limited in locale and time. e.g. steam workers in Cornwall. Shows examples of industries lasting 10-30 years.

Applies to open source? – Consolidation

  • User-friendliness? not a great concern; 2/3 of demand doesn’t require UI

  • Coexistence (commercial software, patent trolls) Uneasy, but institutions are forming to deal with patents and they’re not fatal threats. Also, there’s a “proprietary burden”; MS one of the most sued companies.

… FLOSS will be sticking around


Sourceforge talks stats (by mahemoff)

ohlo stats - language choice in open source repos (by mahemoff)

ohlo stats - jquery vs prototype in open source repos (by mahemoff)

Recently acquired ohlo – massive open source study

Git 25% / Subversion 63% / CVS 7%

Growing language – “it galls me to call Javascript a language, but

Fastest growing: Javascript Python C*

Most popular: Java Python PHP

W. Europe 48%, EE 11%, speaker points out AUSTRALIA is vastly over-represented as a contributor.

Communities Session

This was three talks from people running open source communities – Apace, Eclipse, Linux Foundations.

Apache talk

Covers how to get involved in the community, even simple things like submit a bug are a good start.

Know who you talk to – don’t lecture Roy fielding on the http spec


Was never intended to be just an IDE, the IDE was supposed to be the killer app for the platform, which was supposed to be tools around java.

After launching eclipse foundation in 2004, completely independent, unlike jcp you can’t find any small prit about IBM vetoing, and membership is set so IBM can’t control the vote.

Eclipse guy: If you’re in a commercially led ecosystem a la Microsoft, your only exit strategy is they eat you or they kill you. In an open source ecosystem, you’re working with a trusted partner.

Eidystem for innovation needs: * Licensing model * Project model * Governance model * Tech architecture • open source organisations like Linu, apache, eclipse give you these out of the box…so it’s crazy when people start their own – end up paying legal fees etc. Wastage.

Eclipse projects hidhlighted – the browser, modelling, CDT.

Jim Zemlin – Linux foundation (the best speaker of the conference IMO)

Different to apache with its alkos all volunteer staff. Budget of around $3M and 16 full time staff. Monthly conf calls, f2f once a quarter.

“everyone want linus’s autograph. I count myself as the only autograph Linus wants, he wants it every 2 weeks”. CEO, Linux foundation.

Runs big legal defence projects – patent commons, linux911 …

Linux roadmap – growing in every segment from embedded to supercomputers. Becoming de faci standar and supporting cross frtilisation eg a mobile manufacturer opted for Linux, contributed coed to reduce battery usage which went into the kernel, and saved power and cooling costs for supercomputers.

The Tweets

  • Brazil olympic victory overshadowed by today’s #OpenWorldForum #owf victory for most open sourcey government. The games relegated to page 7. Fri Oct 02 22:31:48 +0000 2009
  • Fossbazaar Conference — OpenWorldForum, October 2, 2009 http://post.ly/76If Fri Oct 02 21:48:56 +0000 2009
  • Enlightened self-interest – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://post.ly/73y3 Fri Oct 02 15:42:16 +0000 2009
  • Australia is vastly over-represented as an open-source contributor :)) W Europe biggest region at 48%. #ohloh #owf #openworldforum Fri Oct 02 15:11:28 +0000 2009
  • no prizes for guessing fastest growing language. “it galls me to call javascript a language, but …” #owf #openworldforum #ohloh Fri Oct 02 15:08:15 +0000 2009
  • SourceForge speaker talking Ohloh stats: GIT now has 25% of commits! SVN 63%. CVS 7%. #owf #openworldforum Fri Oct 02 15:05:46 +0000 2009
  • report of open source used as an internal battle – product open sourced in a failed attempt to become the corporate standard #owf Fri Oct 02 13:58:12 +0000 2009
  • captchas drop conversions by 7.3% (and presumably bug the remaining 92.7%) http://is.gd/3SnfJ (tx @usa2day)#fowa #ux Fri Oct 02 13:55:07 +0000 2009
  • removing barriers to access is key to a successful open source project – e.g. encouraging localisers, docs, feedback. #owf #openworldforum Fri Oct 02 13:49:58 +0000 2009
  • RT @wadje12: Q: How about countries or contributors who are not allowed to contribute? Such as Cuba vs US, or a 14 year old contribute #owf Fri Oct 02 13:43:23 +0000 2009
  • open source “community management” does not exist because you never manage people, you commit to them #owf Fri Oct 02 13:37:36 +0000 2009
  • @SiriusCorp i confirm #owf wifi is definitely of dubious stability. Fri Oct 02 08:55:26 +0000 2009
  • Shuttleworth on #ubuntu UI: want buddhist medidation style of attention: focus in one place, but aware of surroundings (==”ambient”?) #OWF Fri Oct 02 08:53:19 +0000 2009

    Mark Shuttleworth interviewed (by mahemoff)
    (getting interviewed, not his keynote from which the above tweet came)

  • Ingres CEO: not that all customers contribute code, but for those who do, that’s a strong vote for the feature they’ve built Thu Oct 01 10:27:58 +0000 2009
  • “Is Oracle an open source company?” if there was ever a moment to “pull a kanye” … l:safe-distance-from-the-stage #OWF #OpenWorldForum Thu Oct 01 09:57:27 +0000 2009
  • cloud speaker talking up http://bit.ly/2NqL9C and http://bit.ly/1wEhxH #OWF Thu Oct 01 09:41:17 +0000 2009
  • Lots of “gratis” and “libre” from our keynote speaker. Appears to be talking about beer. #owf #OpenWorldForum Thu Oct 01 08:55:58 +0000 2009
  • Keynoter announces he’s still in Paris, admonishes previous speakers for English usage, and proceeds with keynote en francais #owf Thu Oct 01 08:48:51 +0000 2009
  • no big surprise, but government IT is the big deal in the businessy end of the open source community #OWF #OpenWorldForum #NoOfficialHashTag Wed Sep 30 22:42:47 +0000 2009
  • back from #OpenWorldForum mingling in the fine setting of l’hôtel de ville, paris (“town hall” just doesn’t…well it just doesn’t.) #OWF Wed Sep 30 22:38:24 +0000 2009

    IMG_0024 (by mahemoff)

(via List Of Tweets)

IMG_0106 (by mahemoff)


p>(We thought the entire audience was going to be invited on stage, but they stopped short at surnames beginning with “K-N”.)

FossBazaar at Open World Forum (OWF), Paris, Oct-2009

Quick notes from today’s FOSSBazaar event at Open World Forum in Paris. Usual caveats on typos etc as I was writing these notes live.

Martin Michlmayr overviews FOSSBazaar

IMG_0069 (by mahemoff)

Procurement – might like to avoid, but they have a really important role to play. With open source, it’s easy to ignore procurement – why go through procurement when you can download it! Great, that saved me several weeks of work, I can go home now :). But then you ship the code a few months later with GPL.

Make FOSS “business as usual” – how acquired, chosen, used, supported, updated, project tracked, licensed, mature.

FOSSBazaar to help people manage these issues. Good to have members outside of the US (Europe and maybe some now joining from Asia) as issues are different; this is the first FOSSBazaar meeting here.

FOSSBazaar for experienced users – working together to define standards and best practices

FOSSBazaar for inexperienced users – learning about open source issues, reducing the fear

Discuss, resolve, and document the “hard” issues related to adopting FOSS in the enterprise.

Question – why is HP spending money supporting the community? Martin explains HP has some experience dealing with compliance issues. Want to share experiences, e.g. we explained how we explored Palamida; other companies might do the same with Black Duck. It’s been a really good experience, talking to people who we might otherwise have not talked to.

Open Source Compliance – View of Validos. Martin von Willebreand (lawyer basedin Finland).

IMG_0070 (by mahemoff)

Vaidos has DB of 130+ packages validated.

“Shall we use this package or not?” Validos adds legal validation

Shows DB report showing licenses being used in a package.

Talking about typical guidelines, e.g. distributing the licenses with the code. Putting license on your website isn’t really redistributing it.

Showing how they prepared a document for republication. It’s big, it’s scary, and it’s very likely necessary for legal purposes. [Kind of sad that open source gets this complex – makes me feel like just releasing all my code as public domain; losing attribution would be a shame, but the real downside would be the risk of liability if there’s no warranty. It also makes me think that licenses should be embracing the web more, instead of forcing all this stuff to be repackaged – cut-and-pasting a URL would be a good start to what is a long path.]

Martin comments FOSSBazaar has been thinking about standardising some of this license declaration stuff; and there was a parallel effort recently which he’s hoping to work with.

IP Tracking Methodology at INRIA

IMG_0074 (by mahemoff)

On the forge: 1600 projects; 400 open source.

Done various tracking and would be good to compare methodologies, work together on tools.

Discussion session – Working on a Creative Commons contract to establish relationship with contractors, ensuring they use open source the right way.

TiddlyGuv Tool (the bit with me in it)

Steve Barnes motivated the tool from his perspective as a governance administrator. I then gave a demo and explanation.

IMG_0081 (by mahemoff)


  • Possible to get metadata e.g. to get XML feed. [Yes. Showed the bags/tiddlers model in the browser and how you can easily get a list of JSON or txt. Made the mistake of not demoing xml, which would have taken all of 5 seconds. Take off the pro-json blinkers next time!)

  • Can I see which packages (components) are using a paricular license?

  • What does a software policy look like? Do we need them at all. [Steve explained we probably wouldn’t want to have a blanket policy like “don’t use GPL”, though others could; the tool lets you declare whatever policy you like.]

  • It should be more about training than official policies. [I explained TiddlyGuv is intended to be a tool for developers and governance authorities to work together, share information, leave comments, etc.; not a rigid policing-the-masses weapon]


IMG_0089 (by mahemoff)

Disclaimer that you need more than just tools and need other tools too.

Looks at every single file in a package – fuzzy match against a library of >400 known license.

Walks through demo. Can try online.

Many new features – email notifications, new licenses, tutorial section, cleanups.

Plans – new license analyser (based on phrases); concept of license categorisastion (e.g. “good license”/”commercial license”)

Question regarding international labour organisation – what happens if a child developed code and contributed it? Do they have the legal authority to donate the code etc. Is there a child labour question? Martin notes international treaties as a similar issue – notes you’re not allowed to distribute code from one country to another; how do you accept contributions across that boundary. It’s a potential FUD issue people can use against open source in government.

Community Management and Project Governance: A checklist with an attitude Charles-H Schultz

IMG_0094 (by mahemoff)

Good “HowTo”/tutorial presentation of governance on a particular projct.

Not just about making code available. but make it easy to find – e.g. when it’s on sourceforge, but not linked easily from project page.

You never manage your community; so “community management” doesn’t exist. – fair, transparent rules and governance – soft power – trust employees like you trust other contributors

FOSSBazaar Workshop

I’ve been at the FOSSBazaar workshop in SF for the past couple of days – an afternoon session and a session this morning. It’s part of the Linux Summit, FOSSBazaar being a workgroup of the Linux Foundation (though it’s not Linux-specific). (It was news to me that Good Friday isn’t an official public holiday in the US.) FOSSBazaar is an industry consortium focusing on open source usage in the enterprise, in particular open source governance. I attended because I have been developing a tool at Osmosoft to support enterprise open source governance, codenamed TiddlyGuv. I’ll say more about TiddlyGuv in the next post, but here are some notes I recorded at the session.

The notes here are mainly from yesterday’s session – brainstorming about where FOSSBazaar should be heading and what activities to perform. Today’s session was several presentations, one being mine on TiddlyGuv. For the record, the talks were: Krugle, Osmosoft overview (from my colleaugue Andrew Back), TiddlyGuv (me), INRIA, Qualypso, and Fossology (another open source project in this space which we’ve talked to previously and will hopefully collaborate with in the future; more in a later post).

These are iphone notes; spelling and grammar caution!

FossBazaar – Open source governance community – managing open source within an organisation – Share best practices …

started in jan 2008.

State of FOSSBazaar website: Blogs are healthy, forums need attention – would be good to have some discussion amongst ourselves. Whitepapers could be added to.

Qualypso project overview: an organisation encouraging open source adoption esp in Europe. Aiming to set up 6 competence centres -initially some funded by European commission and eventually private or regional funded.

mention of EUPL – recent European license – some unusual features – translated into multiple languages and gpl-compatible

Discussion about what kind of people are targeted by FOSSBazaar – important to think about developers not just managers/lawyers/etc because (a) they can often be an entry point into other parts of the organisation; (b) they often have policies forced on them so regardless of their view, good to target them too to support and promote open source usage. eg should I be using GPL?

Discussion about projects fossbazaar partner could collaborate on to add value and raise profile. The value compared to other organizations would be to offer expertise and experiences from the real world of organisations/companies. Most of the session involved brainstorming those projects. There was a pragmatic focus on packaging the info up neatly as handbooks, “top 10” lists etc, and thinking about SEO. The notes from this brainstorming session were written up during the meeting and I can reproduce them below (thanks to Ragavan Srinivasan who wrote them up during the meeting and Martin Michlmayr for making them available).

Potential ideas:

  • Common patch contributor agreement – SFLC may be working on this. SFLC and LF are working on this
  • Authoritative source of license information: scan code; there are legal issues
  • Standardized way to communicate license to users (README? INSTALL.TXT?LICENSE.TXT? XML?) Document/Guidelines?
    • SFLC published a legal primer that could serve as a starting point. (Need link)
    • Maybe a “HOWTO” or cookbook could be added to primer
    • Get projects on board who will adopt the process
    • Potential projects to work with as pilot: Apache, Eclipse (may already be doing this?), KDE
    • Should this expand beyond just license text standardization to IPR policy standardization along the lines of what Eclipse seems to be doing?
    • Publish Wall of Fame with a badge.
  • Open source governance best practices guide book
    • Benefit if done by a neutral organization
    • Create editorial structure, then get content from each of the partners
    • e.g. creating an OSRB, what to include in a policy
    • FOSS Governance Fundamentals document is quite updated; this one could be more detail
    • Ask Andrew/Olliance for content
    • Create outline, then ask partners to contribute
  • General guide on the licenses, how to interpret them
    • Three books (Rosen, St. Laurent, Van Lindberg) – perhaps we should link to them on FB?
    • Icons to represent licenses ?
  • Survey data?
    • Governance focused (do we have an analyst company as a partner?)
    • Ask TonyW if a student who could do this
    • Start by making a survey of LF members; but that won’t include end-users
    • Make it repeatable; do it every quarter or year
    • Look at trends
    • Ask multiple people in one company and compare what they say (production, developer, manager etc view); show gaps in knowledge
  • Top 10 list of considerations (vulnerabilities, distributing software that contains GPL, license/legal papers; etc.); make sure solutions are included, not just problems or risks
  • Interviews with companies that have mature FOSS governance processes – HP, others? QualiPSo member
  • Common problems with popular FOSS libraries (tomcat, gSOAP etc.)?
    • Work with the projects to get answers (Ask FB)?
    • e.g. Project may have no clear license, work with the developer and remove ambiguity.
    • Magnifying the fine print on some projects/licenses.
  • World’s funniest license interpretations by developers/businesses (funny in a scary way)
  • What to do when you are undergoing some major business changes? (Mergers/acquisitions, divesting part of your company, etc.)
  • FOSS licensing for Dummies?
  • Read this before you do anything else list?
    • SFLC primer?
    • Books from above?
  • FTF (Freedom Task Force) has a lot of documents that are in draft stage, but perhaps we could host them on FB?
  • Grab fossbazaar on identica/twitter before someone squats!
  • Content syndication – cio.com, etc.
  • Outreach to India, China, Eastern Europe, etc.?
  • L10N of content?
    • How do we get the community to help with this?
    • Hugely important.
  • Hosted version of FOSSology? Legal issue? Competing technology?
    • Concern: You may end up with a comment board, all prefixed with IANAL. Problems, but no fixes
    • Why could we not adopt a Coverity/security remediation style approach?
    • Would BD/Palamida/Others be interested in doing this as part of FB (give open source projects access to their Tools behind closed doors as a way for the projects to earn the badge) – will need to address confidentiality, record keeping. We also need more lawyers to donate time to SFLC.
  • A policy builder that OpenLogic has built?
  • Some kind of tooling on FB (like an iPhone app people want to share, just as an example)
  • Start with a small set of core FOSS projects, see if we can get them to standardize on how they represent licenses, give them badges and use them as examples to go after more FOSS projects. This allows us to fix the license ambiguity problem at the root instead of every downstream user having to resolve this.
  • Perhaps we can have projects publish testimonials, maybe start with new projects or projects that don’t have a lot of adoption yet.
  • What are some non-license/legal issues we want to work on?
    • Have a better reputation and build more credibility.
  • Case studies gets another vote. Be generic so you don’t have to name names.
  • Boeing, Lockheed, BAE, BT, all have talked about their open source governance best practices in public. AFIS conference (DoD conf. On FOSS). We have presentations.
  • Forums: what are the strangest place you’ve found licenses in?
  • Forums: OSRB: to allow companies to have comparisons of OSRB

User categories:

  • My company won’t let me use FOSS – HELP!!!
  • My manager thinks we don’t use FOSS – how do I break the news?
  • What is this FOSS thing I keep hearing about?
  • I’ve been asked to create an OSRB/FOSS Center of Excellence for my company – what do I do?

Marketing * Top 10 theme related to governance * SEO * Social networking * Reach out to journalists * Webinar series (lead generation) * Press releases * Get more in-bound links: e.g. syndicating content * Create more partnerships & get links: e.g. with QualiPSo * Newsletter * Twitter: e.g. most active forum topic this week

Next steps:

  • Add “best practices” on FOSSBazaar
  • Create outline for Governance best practices document
  • Define use scenarios (e.g. “new to open source”) and show content depending on what they need
  • Top 10 lists
  • Interviews

Another DHTML “Game”

A new DHTML boxing “game” from the Man In Blue. Not quite DHTML Lemmings or Super Maryo World, but still more fun than it should be. A bit like the Ruby On Rael thing in reverse.

Also from the same presentation is an eerily lifelike OSX clone (Firefox-only). More evidence that Ajax might be useful in prototyping desktop apps. And since prototypes usually go on to become the real thing …

Thanks to the Web Essentials organisers for podcasting the talks. Safran on Sunday will have to go on hold for a while.