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Q&A with Kathy Mandelstein, Director of Worldwide Developer Programs for IBM


November 20, 2007

Q. What is the developerWorks mission?

A. developerWorks is IBM's premier technical resource for software developers and IT professionals. It provides a wide range of tools, code, how-to content, and resources on AIX and UNIX, as well as the catalogue of IBM brands including IBM Systems, Information Management, Lotus, Rational, Tivoli, and WebSphere. It also offers open standards technology such as Ajax and Web 2.0 development, Java technologies, Linux, SOA and Web services, XML, and more. By providing focused and relevant technical information for developers, and information authored and provided by developers and technical experts from both inside and outside of IBM, we offer choices developers can apply to building and deploying applications across heterogeneous systems.

IBM developerWorks is a one-stop shop for developers looking to enhance their skills, serving wis million members worldwide. It offers technical briefings in many locations around the world, as well as training, tutorials, forums, and software downloads to provide developers with the skills and information they need, and at no cost. developerWorks is continually updated to offer visitors the latest in technology and information on topics that can meet their needs and pique their interest.

The core of developerWorks' mission is to establish long-standing relationships with the IT professionals of today and tomorrow. We provide them with a platform to harness and share their collective intelligence, access a variety of technology resources to expand their skills in areas such as SOA, Web 2.0, open source and Java, and ultimately remain competitive in today's constantly changing IT landscape.

IBM developerWorks has a strong focus on open source and open standards technologies, IBM solutions, and emerging technologies. This focus differentiates developerWorks from other industry resources that tend to have a more homogeneous focus, versus our broader focus on Java, Linux, XML, and power architecture among others. By taking the open source and open standards approach, the developerWorks community enables developers to share ideas, concepts, and resources with each other.

The fact that all of the information and technology available on developerWorks is free for the taking opens doors for developers, small businesses, early adopters, academia, and all audiences that have an interest in these technologies. And, developerWorks is not just for advanced developers. In many cases, little to no developmental skills are required to use the technologies found on developerWorks.

Q. How does developerWorks play into wider trends such as social networking?

A. IBM recognizes that the major areas of interest to the developer community change overnight. It's part of our mission to stay on top of these trends and offer the tools that the members of our community demand.

developerWorks has a rich history of embracing new and useful social and community content types of all sorts. We were among the early adopters of company-hosted blogs and podcasts, and we continue to add topics and interactive features to our rich collection of community-driven discussion forums.

developerWorks already has made significant leaps forward into social networking with the launch of our developerWorks spaces system in May 2007. This system allows companies and IT professionals to build a collaborative social system for their audience, enabling them to mix different social software tools into a new community, within the overall ecosystem that is developerWorks. They can use this community to bring together their social knowledge in their forums, blogs, wikis, and other resources. They even can include Web 2.0 services from other Internet sites to bring in video, photos, Web feeds, slide presentations, and more. You then can further export from the developerWorks spaces to other Web 2.0 sites as well as mobile devices such as smart phones using our developer gizmos.

The developerWorks spaces system helps to focus the community to share their collective intelligence, drive new ideas, and discover new resources and expertise. For instance, the Software as a Service space serves as a business network enabling companies to set up profile pages describing their business with the intention of allowing other companies and customers to view that profile to locate prospective business partners and generate new business opportunities.

IBM developerWorks continually helps current and future developers embrace the latest advancements in application development as well. For example, developerWorks helps developers adopt new technologies and hone their programming skills to build rich Internet applications, using Ajax, PHP, and others; this is changing the entire application development landscape. In addition, the community is being encouraged to create, test, and refine new Web 2.0 technologies.

developerWorks also is expanding its audience beyond the conventional software developer. We are meeting the needs of the academic community that is becoming more involved with application development and the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies. One of the benefits for students and academia is that all of the resources found on developerWorks are provided at no cost. Therefore, any university and/or student can access these resources and acquire the skills needed for application development.

Q. developerWorks offers many online resources for its community of IT professionals. Does IBM offer other types of resources for the developer community?

A. Yes. IBM developerWorks is committed not only to enabling developers to learn via its online community of resources, but also is dedicated to providing face-to-face support on a global level. IBM hosts technical briefings on a regular basis to help IT professionals keep up to speed on the latest trends in the industry and see how IBM tools can help them get the most value from their IT investments.

These technical briefings that are led by top IBM developers and engineers span more than 20 technical topics, training developers on today's foremost industry trends, such as SOA, Web 2.0, and Linux. developerWorks holds over 500 briefings a year in 54 countries. In the third quarter of 2007 alone, IBM coordinated 140 technical briefings in 29 countries.

For example, developerWorks recently hosted briefings called "Web 2.0 Goes to Work," which demonstrated developerWorks' commitment to the local developer community and early adopters of Web 2.0 technologies. The events, held throughout the U.S., gave local businesses, developers, and members of the local academic communities the opportunity to work closely with IBM senior leaders and technology experts. Attendees saw demos of the newest Web 2.0 technologies and interacted with IBM's foremost experts on the subject.

Q. You mentioned the global reach of developerWorks. From a broader IBM perspective, we've seen a lot of attention focused on emerging markets, such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Has developerWorks seen significant growth in these markets?

A. The developerWorks community is growing leaps and bounds in regions across the globe. In fact, the developerWorks community of developers has grown to over six million members worldwide. This number continues to grow, with IBM adding approximately 1,500 new developers per day to our growing network, 60 percent of that community coming from emerging markets. In fact, nearly 400 developers in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China join the developerWorks community each day.

Markets such as Russia and China are showing burgeoning growth within the developer communities. Growing interest in topics such as open standards coupled with the large amounts of graduates into the IT field are both helping to fuel the massive growth of their developer communities.

IBM developerWorks also caters to these developers at the local level. Each emerging market has its own developerWorks Web site in its native language and focuses on trends and content that is most relevant to those countries. The Russian site, for example, differs from the U.S. and China sites in that its main page currently focuses on topics surrounding Linux, UNIX, and Java, whereas the Chinese site concentrates more on IBM brand-specific offerings through DB2, WebSphere, and Rational.

The developerWorks community is experiencing growth in other regions of the world too. The developerWorks community in places like Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and others are all experiencing growth in the number of developers joining those individual communities and leveraging then resources that IBM developerWorks is offering for free.

Q. developerWorks is broken down into special interest zones. What does this mean and in which "zones" are you seeing the most growth?

A. IBM's goal is to provide developers with training on open technologies.

To that end, developerWorks offers a number of different special interest areas, or "zones," that cater to very specific needs of developers. The laundry list of developerWorks zones includes AIX and UNIX, the catalogue of IBM Software brands, and Workplace, as well as on open standards technology such as Java technologies, Linux, SOA and Web services, XML, Web development, and more. Zones with double digit growth are XML, Open Source, Linux, WebSphere, Rational, and Information Management.

For example, the Web development zone features technical resources for Ajax, PHP, Atom, RSS, and Ruby, as well as Web development frameworks such as Spring, Shale, Struts, Rails, and Tapestry. All are aimed at providing developers with a one-stop shop of resources for creating dynamic Web applications.

developerWorks Zones follow along with trends that continue to grow in the industry, such as SOA. The developerWorks SOA and Web services zone, which adds relevant resources on a weekly basis, continues to grow and meet the demands of developers and architects looking for SOA-focused content. developerWorks offers a wide range of free SOA and Web services tools and resources to help developers, architects, and members of the academic community understand, implement, and build their skills set for the technologies and products driving this industry-wide initiative.

Q. developerWorks obviously has numerous resources to help IT professionals do their job better? But, can users visit the site for fun?

A. Absolutely. There are several offerings for users beyond the typical IT professional. All technology enthusiasts are encouraged to take advantage of what developerWorks has to offer. For example, the site has an entire community space dedicated to video game development.

Gaming enthusiasts can get up-to-date information on how to improve their online gaming experience. The users gain access to forums and information on the latest technological advances in gaming while learning how to create better gaming applications.

The gaming development community space gives access to the true video game developer into the mobile world by allowing utilization of the same game development assets from the PC, console, and handheld gaming spaces. The platform also provides an intuitive way to discover and download exciting native mobile games.

The online community for game developers of all levels, from the green beginner to the seasoned industry veteran, can take advantage of our frequently updated developer news, thousands of articles and other resources, active forums, and most importantly, be a part of the growing international community of game developers.

Q. Now on to the future. We've already discussed key growth areas, but where do you see the future of developerWorks?

A. The developerWorks community will continue to grow its six-million-member community to broaden and grow their skills on various platforms. This will be achieved through enhancements to the Web site, the launch of new community spaces for developers, and the increasing adoption of Web 2.0 technologies.

The future of developerWorks is all about making it easier for our users to find the answers and information they need, develop cutting edge skills, and connect and share with IBM and each other. We will continue to provide top-notch technical content our users want, and we will be focused on creating more ways for our users to contribute and collaborate. In addition to connecting our users for social benefit, we are looking to enable our users to really drive innovation by collaborating on development projects, mashups, plug-ins, extensions, and more.

IBM is continuously transforming and enhancing its developerWorks site with more public-facing features aimed at expanding its reach to all open source developers. The goal is to put developerWorks where our users are and increase the breadth of visitors to the Web site and members of the community.

To help increase access to developerWorks, we created a new gizmo that lets users syndicate developerWorks content to their personal Google, Yahoo, and NetVibes Web pages as well as their mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPod iTouch interfaces. We also offer numerous Atom and RSS feeds, and in the Second Life virtual world, developerWorks will continue to enhance its developerWorks building and its offerings.

In addition, the software solutions that are available on developerWorks will continue to offer a competitive edge to the business with limited IT resources. The developerWorks community will lead discussions related to enterprise application development with hot technologies such as Web 2.0 and Java EE programming. IBM has provided many tools for enterprise application developing, such as Rational Application Developer and WebSphere Server Application Developer. Developers will have the opportunity to learn best practices on how to leverage tools such as these and others as the industry continues to evolve.

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