Thursday, March 6, 2008

Little fluffy cloudsmith

I built my first public software distribution over the last week using Cloudsmith. Cloudsmith is such a cool idea: you can assemble your own favourite software distributions and share them with like-minded people who can use the Cloudsmith "materializer" to download the lot in one go. Check out my FUSE Big Bang Distro, containing the latest (at time of writing) set of IONA FUSE components for Windows. I've also created a distribution I call Joolbox for all those bits and pieces you need in Java development. Right now it just contains Maven, Ant and a few other bits and pieces... watch that space.

I found the current beta UI (based on Seam) to be a little clunky at times; for example, there's no hour-glass when you you're waiting, which can be a little disconcerting when you don't know if you've really pressed something or not. However this clunkiness was more than made up for by the responsiveness of the Cloudsmith team who were able to iron things out; they assure me that a new update of the UI is underway for their big rollout at Eclipsecon. In retrospect, it would have gone a lot easier if I'd actually Followed the Instructions on each dialogue rather than just racing ahead three sheets to the wind ;)

What might Cloudsmith lead to? Thinking with a big hat on, Cloudsmith could lead to the absolute democratization of software distribution: anyone anywhere can rapidly assemble a full software stack from freely available components, and then provide services, support and training on that distribution. And just think of the potential value of having all the worlds developers huddle together as a community in the cloud. In the meantime, Cloudsmith has the potential to solve some of my problems in the small like how to rapidly pull down all my develop tools the next time my hard drive fails, or how to share my development environment with customers and colleagues.