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From "Paul Fremantle" <>
Subject Re: [VOTE] accept Etch into the Incubator
Date Wed, 27 Aug 2008 07:02:33 GMT


On Wed, Aug 27, 2008 at 7:42 AM, ant elder <> wrote:
> +1
>   ...ant
> 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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Paul Fremantle
Co-Founder and CTO, WSO2
Apache Synapse PMC Chair


"Oxygenating the Web Service Platform",

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