Ross Mason on Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mule is Kicking

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The Mule project just had its 8th anniversary. I find anniversaries a great time to reflect and set new goals. Mule has come along way from the days when I was coding on the couch while my housemate and girlfriend watched Big Brother (I never got reality TV). I started Mule out of pure frustration born from having to perform the same integration tasks for every new project I worked on and the fact that middleware seemed to be a big vendor sport with very poor tools for actually building integration solutions. While other projects such as JBoss and Spring were starting to make an appearance to make application development easier, there was nothing for integration. I decided to change that.

I’ve always said that Mule was an integration platform for developers written by developers. Over the years the project attracted some real talent and being open source it received hundreds of contributions, ideas, improvements from a diverse, far reaching developer community. I knew a project like Mule had to be open source since integration problems are never alike and you need to incorporate thousands of scenarios into an ESB to make it valuable to a broad audience.

It’s been a wild ride since the project started to snowball. Very quickly, some of the largest companies in the world were using Mule at the core of their most important applications, and they started asking for things like support, services, and “enterprise” features and capabilities.

As a result, I started a company behind Mule to fulfill this demand, and we built a successful open source software company that continues to flourish.

Mule Kicking Hard

The last twelve months have been transformative for us and our community. This past year we invested heavily in Mule, tripling the number of developers working on the project. The latest release marks the 3rd generation of Mule and represents a generational leap for integration and ESBs. Our singular goal for Mule 3 was to simplify, and this focus on simplicity is manifested at every level of the project:

  • We shifted the core architecture to a processor model that makes it very easy to plug n’ play any Mule element or pattern. This alone opens up many new avenues, the first being the new Flow configuration model, which simplifies how developers integrate with any system.
  • Mule Cloud Connect enable developers build the applications the way they are increasingly being built today – integrating SaaS and cloud-based services and providing native support for integrating REST interfaces and AJAX clients.
  • A new deployment model in Mule gives developers a much easier model to work with Mule whether the project is large or small. The hot deployment capabilities makes developing with Mule much more responsive and in production allow for service upgrades without impacting any other services or applications.

During the past year, the Mule community continued to grow by leaps and bounds:

  • In the past year, visitors to the www.mulesoft.org community site have more than doubled, growing by over 140%
  • Monthly downloads of the Mule project have more than doubled as well
  • The MuleForge developer hub continues to play host to active community-driven innovation, having grown about 50% this year, including new connectors for Salesforce.com, MongoDB, Bonita, and Qpid, as well as Cloud Connectors for Amazon EC2, S3, Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

Most will have noticed that we have teamed the leading open source ESB with the leading app server – Tomcat. We have been investing in Tomcat with Tcat Server, and we are also investing in the Tomcat community, including:

  • Proper packaging of Tomcat for the Debian and Ubuntu distributions (Tomcat core has been stable for years, but general packaging remained very weak).
  • Free Tomcat support to anyone anywhere. We have an excellent support team that over the years became experts in Tomcat just because a big percentage of our users either Mule directly with Tomcat or run them in the same data centre.
  • We refreshed the stale Maven archetypes for working with Tomcat to improve the user experience.

We are also investing in other open source projects; we joined the Activiti BPM project this year. Headed up by Alfresco and the folks behind jBPM, Activiti is looking to set the bar for open source BPM. We have a Mule team member working on this project defining Web Services support and the integration API to other platforms.

What’s Next?

We’ve tripled the Mule core team so we can innovate on Mule and surrounding projects faster than ever before. We are currently working on Mule Studio – Eclipse-based graphical tooling for Mule that will make it really easy to create integration flows. This will be free for everyone. With Mule, we are expanding the number of both cloud and enterprise connectors. We’re focused on more rapidly incorporating community feedback especially around bug fixes and documentation and adding new features to make the platform even more powerful and easier to use. We will continue to invest in the Tomcat community and the Activiti project.

Most importantly, we have our sights firmly focused on the cloud.  Not only does Mule help organizations connect to the cloud, Mule and Tomcat already run in the cloud and Mule is being used to run some of the largest cloud infrastructures.  As the leading lightweight middleware, Tomcat and Mule, are naturals for the cloud.  The shifts in the market are changing the way one integrates, deploys, and manages applications.  We’re aiming to make this change viable, non-disruptive and add value to your projects. Thank you for being part of the Mule community, and please let us know how we can make Mule even simpler and more powerful for you.

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One Response to “Mule is Kicking”

From the Mule’s Mouth » 2011: A Mule Retrospective December 19th, 2011, 1:19 am

[...] cliché as it is to say, it’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed since I last took stock of Mule. When I look back on 2011, it’s absolutely incredible to me how far MuleSoft and the Mule [...]

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