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Most developers are passionate about what they do, but there’s something special going on when that passion creates a close-knit community. I have worked in the Boston area’s software industry for nearly 30 years, and while the area is loaded with great and talented people, it just doesn’t always happen that way. I was well aware of that when I first began to work with the Progress® OpenEdge® team back in June of 2014.
What I was not aware of is how intense and passionate the community of users, DBAs, developers and business owners are about OpenEdge. I first realized this when I went to the North American Progress User Group (PUG) challenge in 2014. This occurs annually and is organized by Progress Users Groups, which are run by people who are not Progress employees. Similar events take place in Europe, India and Asia every year as well.
The event was filled with energy. People from Progress were ecstatic to be there and give presentations on things they had been working on and had finished rehearsing to internal audiences. Many of the presenters had been working on this product and with this group of users for over 15 years. Progress customers, partners and employees came from all over North America.
After presenting the OpenEdge roadmap in the opening session, I and other Progress officers remained on stage to answers questions. As a guess, I would say there over 500 people in the room, many of whom were standing by the door or in the hallway outside the room. The nature of the questions that followed shocked me. After many years at similar events, I was braced to hear about everybody’s gripe about either the product or the company. I heard neither. It took the tone of “How can we do more to help people understand how awesome OpenEdge is? We need to get the word out!”
I later went to a talk called the “Info Exchange.” This is an open forum where users discuss with product management and the product development team what features they would like to have in future releases of the product. Everybody knew each other and interacted with humor and enthusiasm. It was a true working session by working members of the community. Of course there were a few digs here and there, but everybody was clearly on the same team. I understand these sessions happen in all PUG challenges. I have been around many product development platforms. Never had I seen something like this.
I have never been to an Apple Developer conference. However, I have heard that they are an incredible experience based on how much religion there is around the Mac/Apple platform. Well, I can’t imagine there possibly being more passion/religion than there was about the OpenEdge platform at this conference. Users, DBAs, Developers and the many people who invested so much of their careers—and bet so much of their business—on OpenEdge, and were glad they did. Yes, there was plenty of disagreement, but the truth is everybody wanted the same thing. Specifically, to figure out how we are going to make the platform better and let everybody know about it. In addition, people had known each other for years (decades even). They had been at this mission for a long time and it felt like they were just getting started.
There was a similar conference in India this past year. It was held over a weekend in Hyderabad. According to the trip report I received from the senior OpenEdge QA manager, Srini Kantipudi, despite it being one of the first such conferences in India, and despite it taking place over a weekend, it was loaded with energy and passion. I also made it to the EMEA PUG Challenge this past fall, and the experience was almost a spiritual one. “OpenEdge is what we do,” I kept hearing. “It’s great, and let’s make it even greater.”
Relative to so many others, I have been a very small part of the community for a very short period of time. However, also like so many others, I have been made very welcome and I am honored to be involved.
I am decades behind. However, in small effort to catch up I am helping Bob Brennan, the head of the Progress New England Users group, restart regular user group meetings. If you are part of the OpenEdge community, I would encourage you to either attend a regular user group meeting or start one. Regular involvement with other members of the community helps us continue to move OpenEdge forward as well as help us all grow as professionals. In addition, they are just plain fun. As I have learned, it is awesome to be part of something that is bigger than yourself.
For those of you in the Boston area, if you would like to chance to experience the OpenEdge community up close, please join us on January 13th. Details are located here on Meetup. I hope to see you there!
Tom Kincaid is the VP of software development for OpenEdge, Corticon and Modulus at Progress Software. Prior to coming to Progress he was the VP of development at EnterpriseDB. He is one of the founding architects and managers of the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) platform and was the Executive Director of Application Platforms at Sun Microsystems. Tom was also the Director of Quality Engineering at Red Hat Inc. He has spent his entire career in the Boston area and has almost 30 years of experience developing and delivering high quality software products for developers.
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