The one thing that always confused me about WebSphere is the lack of a single large vibrant community for practitioners. The best one that I’m aware of is the WebSphere Application Server developerWorks forum which seems to get about 20 posts a day. Twenty posts. The ones for process server and integration developer average 3-4 on good days. A search on dice.com for the word ‘WebSphere’ returned me 4000 entries.
There’s tons of large companies employing a lot of people running WebSphere. Where do these people go to get specific questions answered? DeveloperWorks is a great resource (if hard to ever find the article you are looking for) but usually articles generate questions to the reader that aren’t addressed. Courses usually focus on parts of product stacks giving data in “fire-hose” mode along the commonly traveled path. The infocenter is hit or miss, usually you get directed to an option that is only described as “Click the check box to enable the feature”. Problem Reports (PMRs) seem to be the only way to get a decisive answer, but they’re usually slow to resolve (and can be frustrating at times).
It seems to me, that we’re still in the life cycle of WebSphere education where we learn by blood, sweat and tears. You have to spend a lot of time reading exception traces and trying to get into the developers head to understand why something behaves the way it does. It’s unfortunate because this product has been on the market way too long to still be at this stage.
I used to work for IBM, and I know they have an incredibly content-rich wiki and newsgroup system that enabled their practitioners to exchange ideas and aide on demand. I wish we non-IBMers could get the same thing going.
I’m not sure what the barriers are that prevent us from getting something like this going. I have theories about over-worked consultants, information hoarding or even complete indifference to the perceived ‘extra work’. I can’t figure it out.
Anyway, I encourage any readers to participate in the DeveloperWorks forums. They seem to be the best site out there and the value of the community increases exponentially with every new member.