The behind-the-scenes networking and dealmaking is often the most fascinating part of any conference. The sometimes dramatic effects of bringing a pool of open-source developers together in one place were illustrated Wednesday at EclipseCon, when two popular, open-source developer tools projects -- Web applications IDE Aptana and Ruby on Rails IDE RadRails -- announced their union.
It was a deal that came together last night, sparked by connections made at the conference, being held in Santa Clara, Calif. RadRails developer Kyle Shank put out an SOS on his blog early this week: He and his RadRails partner are immersed in pulling together a start-up venture and no longer have the time to lead RadRails development.
A call for new contributors drew some interest and an outpouring of lamentations from RadRails users. First released 18 months ago, the IDE quickly drew enthusiastic users and won an EclipseCon Community Award at last year's show for "best open-source Eclipse-based developer tool." RadRails has a user base of about 100,000.
Aptana estimates its user count at 300,000, a number of whom were already integrating it with RadRails. Aptana maintains a guide on linking the two products, and bloggers frequently report marrying the two products.
Shank's call for a new development leader caught Aptana CEO Paul Colton's eye, and the two sat down yesterday at EclipseCon to hash out a deal. The current RadRails team will work with Aptana over the next few months on a transition, after which Aptana will be responsible for advancing RadRails and integrating it more deeply with its own IDE.
"This will shock a lot of our users," Shank said. But he's happy with the arrangement. The other option he considered was applying to the Eclipse Foundation to establish RadRails as a project under its control; Aptana's enthusiasm made it the more attractive suitor. (Aptana's Colton could not be reached for comment.)
Shank isn't done with his EclipseCon dealmaking. He's in high gear -- and in stealth mode -- working on his new venture, which he says will launch in the next few months. He's busy leverging conections among the Eclipse community.
"I'm out here getting money," he said, gesturing around at the small, but packed, convention center.