Timothy M. O'Brien


Evanston, Illinois

Java, Ruby, Groovy with a Focus on Development Infrastructure

Areas of Expertise:

  • Hybrid Architecture
  • Developer Communications
  • Java
  • Open Source
  • consulting
  • speaking
  • programming
  • training
Timothy M. O'Brien consults and writes from Evanston, IL, about thirteen miles North of the center of Chicago. He maintains a personal blog at www.discursive.com, and he frequently contributes to the OnJava blog.

He's just finished writing, assembling, and editing Maven: The Definitive Guide, a free, green book which is going to be published by O'Reilly in Q3 of 2008. Before that, he had the pleasure to work with Ryan Fowler and James Elliott on the Second Edition of Harnessing Hibernate. A few years ago, Vincent Massol and Tim collaborated on the first Maven book: Maven: A Developer's Notebook, and prior to that he wrote the Jakarta Commons Cookbook in 2003 and 2004.

Tim is committed to the idea that open source documentation is as important to the success of a project as the source code itself - documentation is a primary artifact. This is a lesson most programmers tend to forget after having it hammered into them by Computer Science professors and teaching assistants at The University. In the real world, as in the academy, your coding efforts do suffer that "automatic 30 point reduction in final grading" if you fail to supply the required user documentation. Even in the most well-respected open source efforts, documentation remains a governor on adoption and progress. Tim wants to help convince other developers to take the time to get involved in open source documentation. Who said DocBook isn't fun?

Harnessing Hibernate Harnessing Hibernate
by James Elliott , Timothy M. O'Brien , Ryan Fowler
April 2008
Print: $39.99
Ebook: $31.99

Maven: A Developer's Notebook Maven: A Developer's Notebook
by Vincent Massol , Timothy M. O'Brien
June 2005
Print: $29.95
Ebook: $23.99

Jakarta Commons Cookbook Jakarta Commons Cookbook
by Timothy M. O'Brien
November 2004
Print: $44.95

Recent Posts | All O'Reilly Posts

Timothy M. blogs at:

Tracking Salesforce’s push toward developers

October 09 2012

Have you ever seen Salesforce’s “no software” graphic? It’s the word “software” surrounded by a circle with a red line through it. Here’s a picture of the related (and dancing) “no software” mascot. Now, if you consider yourself a developer, … read more

DNA: The perfect backup medium

August 20 2012

It wasn’t enough for Dr. George Church to help Gilbert “discover” DNA sequencing 30 years ago, create the foundations for genomics, create the Personal Genome Project, drive down the cost of sequencing,  and start humanity down the road of synthetic biology. … read more

Clojure's advantage: Immediate feedback with REPL

May 23 2012

REPL is built into Clojure, and you can connect to any running Clojure process and modify and execute code. In this interview, "Clojure Programming" co-author Chas Emerick discusses the possibilities this introduces for Clojure developers. read more

Jesse Robbins on the state of infrastructure automation

May 11 2012

OpsCode chief community officer Jesse Robbins discusses cloud infrastructure automation and the most surprising use of Chef he's seen so far. read more

Data's next steps

April 03 2012

Redmonk analyst Steve O'Grady discusses the demand for data scientists, the problem of using data to asking the right questions, and why you shouldn't rush into a NoSQL investment. read more

Jason Huggins' Angry Birds-playing Selenium robot

October 20 2011

If you try to talk to Jason Huggins about Selenium, he'll probably do to you what he did to us. He'll bring his Arduino-based Angry Birds-playing testing robot to your interview and then he'll relate his invention to the larger problems of mobile application testing and cloud-based testing infrastructure. read more

Bob Lee on Java references and the state of Java

October 13 2011

In this short interview from JavaOne, Square CTO Bob Lee discusses Java references and weighs in on the state of Java and the industry. read more

Ruby is for Java

July 19 2011

Bob McWhirter, JBoss Fellow, Codehaus Despot, and creator of TorqueBox, discusses the boundary between Java and Ruby and his efforts to make Torquebox "a real first-class Ruby platform that works the way Rubyists expect". read more

Mirah: Taking Performance to the Next Level with Java's Ruby

July 12 2010

Charles Oliver Nutter discusses his latest attempt to bring the usability and clarity of Ruby to the JVM. In this interview Nutter discusses Mirah, a new, Ruby-like language which can be compiled to bytecode. He discusses some of the advantages of being able to compile to bytecode and how Mirah… read more

Agile's Next Challenge: Selling it to the Business

September 23 2009

Agile's next challenge is selling executives on the idea of rapid iterative development without rigorous up-front planning. As Agile becomes a default mode of the development for most technology departments, it will need to be properly positioned in the Board room. How will Agile's evolution affect the way that the… read more

The Last Electronics Project I Completed

September 11 2009

During the Summer of 2001, I spent a great deal of my time thinking about bombs: how to build them and how to make them look authentic. No, I wasn't a terrorist, I was a prop maker for an advertisement... read more

Dramatic Increase in Number of Tor Clients from Iran: Interview with Tor Project and the EFF

June 19 2009

The Tor Project produces an anonymous proxy services which allows users to evade surveillance. In this interview, Andrew Lewman talks about the Tor Project and discusses some statistics that show its increased use from with Iran. This article also includes some questions and answers with the EFF about the legal… read more

Sarah Milstein on Iranian Protests and Twitter

June 18 2009

In this 10 minute interview, Sarah Milstein, co-author of the Twitter Book, discusses Twitter's impact on the Iranian protests, the emerging relationship between Twitter and breaking news stories, and she addressed the fear of inadvertent transparency within immediate social messaging communications media. read more

Interesting Questions Raised by Iranian Twitter Activism

June 16 2009

Development (4:10 PM CST): The State Department has been in contact with Twitter to make sure that the service remained available for protestors in Iran. (reuters) Last Friday, Twitter started to digest the Iranian election results, and the tool became a powerful vehicle for protest and coordination for student protestors… read more

Sun Launches an App Store + Ellison on Sun's Future

June 02 2009

Schwartz gets all "Carl Sagan" on us... "billions and billions".... Before Schwartz and Gosling introduced the Java App Store, Schwartz made sure to emphasize the size of the community: "Billions of PCs, Billions of Mobile Devices, Millions of set-top boxes",... read more

Gruber's Ficitional App Store Censor

May 29 2009

John Gruber's "Excerpts From the Diary of an App Store Reviewer" is cutting satire of the arbitrary decision making and capricious censorship that is generated by Apple's opaque App Store approval process. Read more about this brilliant commentary on the absurdity of the relationships between the Censor, the Censored, and… read more

Google's Unique Position and Imperative Need for Browser Interactivity

May 28 2009

Google's clarion call for HTML 5 and rich interactive browser applications marks an interesting fork in the road for technologists. Will we invest our time in learning more proprietary, native APIs to create better iPhone and Adobe AIR applications, or will everything start to move toward a standards-based browser as… read more

Google Announces Support for Microformats and RDFa

May 12 2009

On Tuesday, Google introduced a feature called Rich Snippets which provides users with a convenient summary of a search result at a glance. They have been experimenting with microformats and RDFa, and are officially introducing the feature and allowing more sites to participate. While the Google announcement makes it clear… read more

NiN's Rob Sheridan on iPhone Application Rejection

May 05 2009

In this interview with Rob Sheridan (@rob_sheridan), Nine Inch Nails' Artistic Director, Rob discusses the experience of getting the rejection letter from Apple, and what effect it has on the band's plans to build community applications on the iPhone platform. You'll hear Sheridan express an uneasiness that Apple can act… read more

News Industry on Twitter: Full of Crazies, Not Reliable

April 28 2009

There's a Twitter "backlash" at the moment as news organizations like CNN start to react to the way people are communicating about the Swine Flu on Twitter. What is behind this reaction, and is it valid? Is Twitter a "petri dish" for hysteria and insanity? Or, is it a useful… read more

Update on Twitter Awareness Metrics of Swine Flu

April 27 2009

A quick update on the Twitter Awareness numbers for the Swine Flu. As of Monday @ 1:57 PM. Swine flu accounted for 2.68% of all Twitter activity, and the @CDCemergency Twitter account continued to experience rapid growth posting a 300% growth over the last two days. In addition to these… read more

Responding to Morozov on Twitter's "Power to Misinform"

April 26 2009

In Foreign Policy, Evgeny Morozov writes about Twitters power to misinform in the context of the emerging Swine Flu crisis. In his article he brings up concerns about the use of Twitter to spread misinformation and makes some broad generalizations about the motivations of the average Twitter. In this article,… read more

Personal Genome Project Expanding the Personal Gene Pool from 10 to 100,000

April 26 2009

The Personal Gemone Project is evolving from a small pilot of ten to a massive collection of 100,000 public medical histories and DNA sequences. Find out how you can register to participate in an experiment that will lay the necessary foundation for a complete understanding of how one's genetic sequence… read more

Tracking and Graphing Awareness of Swine Flu with Twitter

April 26 2009

As the Swine Flu story develops, Twitter is an invaluable, open-platform for gathering data and graphing trends of awareness. As the CDC investigation into this emerging virus uncovered more cases in CA, KS, TX, @CDCemergency experienced a rapid +85% jump in followers as Twitter became a conduit for critical public… read more

Twittering the Swine Flu (Follow @CDCemergency)

April 25 2009

The Centers for Disease Control and the Red Cross are using Twitter to get the word out about Swine Flu. Can something as simple as Twitter make a difference when fighting a potential influenza pandemic? read more

What the Sun/Oracle Combination Means for Java and Open Source

April 22 2009

What does the Oracle/Sun merger mean for Java? There's been a lot of speculation and a fair amount of apocalyptic, "sky is falling" Twitter activity, but does anyone really know what Ellison has in store for Java? read more

Google Introduces Comprehensive, Standards-based Java Support in AppEngine

April 08 2009

Google's announcement of Java support in AppEngine is more than just the announcement of support for a second language. Java on AppEngine changes the dynamics of the Java ecosystem and redefines the concept of Write Once Run Anywhere. read more

W. David Stephenson on the Federal CIO: Vivek Kundra

April 06 2009

W David Stephenson discusses his upcoming book "Democratizing Data", and his experiences with the new Federal CIO: Vivek Kundra. Stephenson talks about his experiences working as a consultant for Kundra in the DC government and he outlines what we can expect from Kundra during his tenure as Federal CIO in… read more

An Up and Down Week for JAVA

April 06 2009

...and, I'm not talking about the language. I'm talking about the stock, Sun Microsystems is down 20% in the futures market @ 8:10 AM ET. -20% On the news of the $7 billion game of brinksmanship, it is important to... read more

NASA's Kepler Promises to Irreversibly Alter Humanity's Relationship to the Cosmos

March 07 2009

NASA's just launched Kepler Mission promises to dramatically expand the catalog of known exoplanets from a few hundred to a few thousand. This post assembles some information about the mission and man this mission was named after Johannes Kepler. In the words of Sagan, "Kepler was the first person in… read more

Vivek Kundra: Federal CIO in His Own Words

March 05 2009

This article contains several audio excerpts and transcripts from Vivek Kundra's first conference call as the newly appointed Federal CIO. After weeks of speculation it was formally announced today that President Obama has appointed Kundra, who had previously been serving as the CTO for Washington D.C.. In his previous position,… read more

Quick Video Survey of Vivek Kundra's Policy and Experience as DC CTO

March 05 2009

Who is Vivek Kundra? This article assembles a few representative videos from YouTube that give you a sense of the policies and experience that Vivek Kundra brings to the newly created office of the Federal Chief Information Officer. From Google Apps to radically transparent interactions with vendors, Kundra has set… read more

Twitscan: The Debate over "Open Core"

March 03 2009

There's a debate over the boundaries between open source communities and the business that tend to develop around them. This post covers some of the recent chatter around Open Core Licensing. read more

Interview with Infoworld's Paul Venezia on the Terry Child's Case

February 26 2009

If you are a network engineer, you might want to pay attention to the continuing case of Terry Childs in San Francisco. In this 15-minute interview, Paul Venezia discusses the inconsistencies in the case, and why every technologist should be paying attention to the outcome of the Childs case. read more

Interview: Carl Malamud's Grassroots Campaign for Public Printer of the United States

February 25 2009

Carl Malamud, an advocate for goverment transparency, is starting a grassroots campaign to become the Public Printer of the United States, a position responsible for the Government Printing Office (GPO). As Public Printer of the United States, Malamud would be responsible for publishing information about the federal government. In this… read more

Government Transparency is Our Responsibility: Apps for America

January 21 2009

Great, we have an Administration that is embracing electronic transparency. Getting the data is only half the struggle. Now, it is your turn to make sure that this data is parsed, distributed, and displayed in compelling ways. If you are looking for something "important" to contribute your time to, take… read more

Inauguration Tech: change.gov -> whitehouse.gov

January 20 2009

That was fast? The Obama Administration launched the new whitehouse.gov as soon as the new President was sworn into office. Here are the before and after pictures. What do you think of the new site? What is your advice for the new Administration's webmasters? read more

Letter to the Algorithm

January 05 2009

Is Digg Sexist? No. Is the community it attracts "sexist"? Likely. This post is a response to the recent criticism, a diagnosis, and a prescription for future collaborative filtering evolution. The problem with the current iteration of collaborative filters is that they don't account for more than one dominant preference… read more

Craig Newmark Interview: A Brief History of Craigslist

December 13 2008

A brief conversation with Craig Newmark from this year's Personal Democracy Forum 2008. In this interview Craig talks about the founding of Craiglist, how he came to found one of the most popular sites on the web. Craig also discusses his work with the Obama team and some of the… read more

Can the Internet Prevent War?

December 09 2008

In his Nobel lecture Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio posited that the Internet might have prevented the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Second World War. In this post, I offer a counterargument: the decade we all lived through demonstrated the power of the Internet as a platform for propaganda. read more

The New Newspaper Editor: Your Neighbors and Some Python Code

December 09 2008

Since the Tribune Company is about to file for bankruptcy, I thought I'd take some time to introduce you to your new Newspaper Editor. The replacement is an algorithm and a crowd of people, or is it? Are collaborative filters adequate replacements for human editorial decision-making? Is collaborative filtering making… read more

Knight Foundation Scholarship: Bringing Developers to the Newsroom

December 07 2008

Rich Gordon, Associate Professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, discusses the Knight Foundation Scholarship for working developers to attend a one-year Master's program in Journalism. Gordon discusses the current trends in news and technology, and how developers will play an important role in the continued evolution of "news". read more

Interview with Andy Oram: Upcoming Books and Current Trends

November 23 2008

This is a brief interview with Andy Oram about the state of the technology publishing market. What are the trends in online publishing, and how does it affect O'Reilly? In this interview, I ask Oram about his views on free books and I ask him to talk about some of… read more

Recent Posts | All O'Reilly Posts

Timothy M. O'Brien

"This book is by far one of the best books on Hibernate. The main reason is the example code that go hand in hand with the book, and illustrates why Hibernate is so powerful. A decent clear example which simply solves the problem presented in each chapter is what every hard working developer needs from a book. Harnessing Hibernate delivers on this in spades."