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From "ant elder" <>
Subject Re: [VOTE] accept Etch into the Incubator
Date Wed, 27 Aug 2008 06:42:42 GMT


On Mon, Aug 25, 2008 at 7:09 PM, Yonik Seeley <> wrote:

> Since wiki pages can change, the full text of the proposal needs to be
> in the vote thread.
> Here is the text of the proposal:
> == Abstract ==
> Etch is a cross-platform, language- and transport-independent
> framework for building and consuming network services.
> == Proposal ==
> Etch is a cross-platform, language- and transport-independent
> framework for building and consuming network services. The Etch
> toolset includes a network service description language, a compiler,
> and binding libraries for a variety of programming languages. Etch is
> also transport-independent, allowing for a variety of different
> transports to used based on need and circumstance. The goal of Etch is
> to make it simple to define small, focused services that can be easily
> accessed, combined, and deployed in a similar manner. Ultimately with
> Etch, service development and consumption becomes no more difficult
> than library development and consumption.
> == Background ==
> Etch was started because we wanted to have a way to write a concise,
> formal description of the message exchange between a client and a
> server, with that message exchange supporting a hefty set of
> requirements. The messaging technology should support one-way and
> two-way, real-time communication. It should have high performance and
> scalability. I should support clients and servers written in different
> languages. It should also support clients/servers running in a wide
> range of contexts (such as thin web client, embedded device, PC
> application, or server). It must support anyone adding new language
> bindings and new transports. It should also be fast and small, while
> still being flexible enough to satisfy requirements. Finally, it must
> be easy to use for developers both implementing and/or consuming the
> service.
> == Rationale ==
> Existing systems were either too slow, hard to use, bloated and/or
> proprietary. In any case, none fit our matrix of requirements
> perfectly.
> Developers of applications that must leverage the capabilities of
> network-hosted services have a daunting challenge. They must cobble
> together a heterogeneous collection of services that expose different
> APIs with different communications technologies just to integrate with
> the services, essentially spending a great deal of energy and effort
> on just the basics of inter-service communication rather than core
> business logic.
> So the desired state then is when developing applications that
> leverage the capabilities of dispersed and heterogeneous network
> services, APIs must be simple, cohesive, and coherent across network
> services. APIs should be easy to consume by developers regardless of
> the implementation technology of the service used or the domain a
> service is being built within- from client-side web applications to
> complex real-time server systems. Put simply, developers ideally
> should feel that they are developing to a platform.
> API development is a much better understood and simpler subject if you
> are building those APIs to be run _locally_ on a single machine or
> service. Microsoft and Linux centric API developers have the luxury of
> the massive assumption that a standard OS is available with a certain
> set of features, and the API libraries do not have to take into
> account the complexities of APIs that cross machine or OS boundaries.
> Developers of network-centered services, rather than OS-centered
> services, do not have this luxury; we have a significant set of issues
> facing us today because of the fundamental fact that "the network" is
> not a single machine, or a homogeneous set of machines, but a
> heterogeneous and widely distributed set of services.
> The conventional method for developers of network services today is to
> use either a technology specific to the language of preference, RMI
> for Java, .NET Remoting for .NET for C#, etc., or if trying to be
> "language neutral" picking a CORBA ORB or a Web Service technology
> like SOAP or REST. These choices are fine until the requirements of
> the application cannot accept the limitations of the remoting
> technology. If the application needs to work on non-Microsoft
> platforms, .NET Remoting is out (unless, of course, you can use the
> Mono implementation of .NET, but that brings with it other
> challenges). If the need is to support access from languages other
> than Java, then RMI is out. If the need includes support for
> real-time, asynchronous communication, or symmetric two-way
> communications, the Web services technologies must also be rejected.
> For other classes of applications, there are simply no "standard"
> choices left. The developer is forced to drop down to a network
> protocol level and invent a new messaging system for their needs.
> Building a protocol by hand is hard; building a messaging system is
> also hard. This dramatically increases the barrier to entry for new,
> useful applications that leverage network-services.
> An orthogonal problem exists when supporting more than one transport
> technology is required of the application, e.g. HTTP/SOAP and
> HTTP/REST or HTTP/SOAP and a proprietary service protocol. This is
> also burdensome to the developer because now two or more distinct
> technologies must be used to expose the same interface. This typically
> means the development and maintenance of parallel implementations of
> the service using the technologies native to the transport mechanism.
> Often the result here is that one interface is the complete interface,
> while others suffer from various levels of partial or out-of-sync
> implementation.
> What if this was the reality instead: every interface to a network
> service could be had via a single, common API technology that 'just
> works' in every major language (C#, Java, Python, Ruby, C or even
> Javascript in a browser). What if this technology could produce the
> native stub code needed to do the networking and message passing (much
> like Web Services). Then the developer could concentrate on the
> business logic of the application or service rather than the
> idiosyncrasies of the network plumbing.
> As a language and transport independent network API generator, Etch
> can provide programmers with a consistent API model to program against
> while giving them the ability to redeploy into a variety of languages
> or transports at runtime (per developer/customer choice). So, one may
> use the same API implementation to send messages using an XML coding
> on a stream protocol in Java, or binary coding wrapped in reliable UDP
> in C#, or a shared memory queue on a router backplane in C, or even
> Python over SOAP. One could, in fact, support all at the same time,
> and any others that you care to implement or find, as long as you
> support the required semantics of the API.
> It all comes down to this: developers should not have to care about
> the implementation language or platform of the service nor what the
> transport is to get there, as long as basic semantics are honored, and
> these should be no more or less than the semantics of your programming
> language of choice. Further, a user requirement about specific
> protocols should not require rewriting of application logic to make it
> fit into some arbitrary framework scheme or container.
> == Current Status ==
> === Meritocracy ===
> Etch was conceived by Scott Comer and Louis Marascio. As Scott
> finished the development of the core compiler and first transport
> implementation, others have made various contributions to the project:
> James Dixson and Shawn Dempsey have worked on the build environment;
> Manoj Ganesan has worked on a Ruby binding; James Dixson on the Python
> binding; and James deCocq on the C binding; Manoj Ganesan and Gaurav
> Sandhir did primary work on C# and maintenance work all around. J.D.
> Liau has been instrumental in ideas and maintenance. Hung Nguyen has
> created the Windows installer using NSIS and Seth Call is working on a
> JavaScript binding with JSON transport for thin clients.
> === Community ===
> Etch solves problems lots of projects have. Any project that has a
> need to define multiple services in a consistent way, or expose
> services on the network to a variety of languages or platforms can
> benefit from Etch as technology.
> === Core Developers ===
> The core developers are all listed in the initial committers list
> later in this proposal.
> === Alignment ===
> The compiler code is in Java, but the technology is language- and
> protocol-agnostic and suitable for many different projects, including
> non-Java. The compiler makes use of Apache Ant for orchestrating the
> build, and Apache Velocity for code generation.
> == Known Risks ==
> === Orphaned Products ===
> We are all quite committed to Etch and the development of an Etch
> community. Etch is a core component of shipping Cisco products and
> will only grow over time.
> Our employer is also committed to the success of the technology,
> allowing us to continue to invest our time in support of Etch
> development as well as committing to Etch technology as a key
> component in multiple products.
> Etch being orphaned is unlikely.
> === Inexperience with Open Source ===
> The group of initial committers has had various levels of interaction
> with open-source communities. Most of us came into Cisco through the
> acquisition of Metreos in 2006. While at Metreos, Louis Marascio and
> several of us were active contributor's to the OpenH323 project. We
> worked through several bugs, submitted patches and even sponsored
> development. We have also made contributions to other projects (some
> accepted, some not) on a much smaller scale over the years, QDox,
> Maruku, Capistrano, OpenGatekeeper, and Mono.
> === Homogeneous Developers ===
> Etch has been completely developed by Cisco employees, therefore all
> of the initial committers to the project are affiliated with Cisco.
> Etch has just recently been made publicly available. First in binary
> form in May 2008 as part of a Cisco product and in open source form in
> July 2008.
> === Reliance on Salaried Developers ===
> It is expected that Etch development will be done both on salaried
> time and volunteer time. Cisco is highly interested in the success and
> development of an Etch community. At this time, Etch is a core
> component of shipping Cisco products and is likely to grow over time.
> Cisco in interested in investing time to support Etch development and
> use it as a key component in multiple products. It is also expected
> that non-Cisco developers will become interested in Etch.
> === Relationships with Other Apache Products ===
> Etch currently depends upon these other Apache projects: Velocity,
> Maven and Ant.
> We expect that as Etch becomes available, it will be seen as a very
> compelling technology and others will begin to depend upon it.
> === A Excessive Fascination with the Apache Brand ===
> We believe Etch offers much to the Apache brand. We could easily, with
> the backing of Cisco, take a more independent route and support Etch
> directly without the Apache foundation. But after much consideration,
> we truly believe that would be the wrong approach for this technology.
> As a technology, we believe Etch is very much a kindred spirit of the
> other software infrastructure technologies currently part of the
> Apache community: Ant, Velocity, Derby, and others. The technological
> niche of Etch--platform and language agnostic service definition and
> binding-is a technology that can be appreciated across a broad range
> software domains.
> It is our view that Apache is simply the most appropriate community
> for the kind of technology Etch represents.
> == Documentation ==
> Public documents are available. All documentation can be found here
> .
> == Initial Source ==
> Etch has been in development at Cisco since Jan-2007. The system was
> designed from the beginning to be open-sourced.  We consider Etch to
> be at release 1.0 and ready for production use.
> We continue to develop on Etch aggressively and a continually adding
> tests and documentation to accompany the code, in particular around
> Etch's unique pluggable architecture.
> The compiler and language bindings for Java and C# are working and
> functional. Etch will be included in shipping Cisco products in
> Sept-2008 as a core technology component.
> The language bindings for JavaScript, Python and C are in development.
> The Etch development home page is currently hosted a Cisco's developer
> portal: . Full source and
> binary distributions are available there including access to our
> public subversion repository.
> == Source and Intellectual Property Submission Plan ==
> Apache would receive all source and documentation under the Apache
> Corporate Contributor agreement. Cisco is the only license holder.
> == External Dependencies ==
> Java, JavaCC and Velocity are core dependencies of the compiler. The
> Java language binding depends only on Java.
> Ant and Maven are used by the build system.
> For the other language bindings we have the following compile/link
> dependencies:
> C# - Microsoft .NET v2.0 (Mono compatibility coming soon)
> == Cryptography ==
> Etch uses the native capabilities of Java and C# to support TLS as an
> option for the default Etch binary transport protocol.
> == Required Resources ==
> === Mailing Lists ===
>  * etch-private
>  * etch-dev
>  * etch-commits
>  * etch-user
> === Subversion Directory ===
> === Issue Tracking ===
>  JIRA : Etch (ETCH)
> === Other Resources ===
>  None
> == Initial Committers ==
> Gaurav Sandhir      gsandhir at cisco dot com
> J.D. Liau           jliau at cisco dot com
> James Dixson        jadixson at cisco dot com
> James deCocq      jadecocq at cisco dot com
> Rene Barazza        rebarraz at cisco dot com
> Scott Comer         sccomer at cisco dot com
> Seth Call           secall at cisco dot com
> Youngjin Park     youngjpa at cisco dot com
> === Affiliations ===
> All the initial committers are Cisco employees.
> == Sponsors ==
> === Champion ===
> Niclas Hedhman (has offered to be Champion)
> === Nominated Mentors ===
> Niclas Hedhman
> Doug Cutting
> Yonik Seeley
> === Sponsoring Entity ===
> Incubator
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