I've just finished up a year long contract at a major insurance company writing their first outward facing HL7 Web Services
From my Leap Frog days, I learned to write SOAP and REST based web services using Apache CXF. During that contract I always heard the name "Dan" come up, apparently he was "the CXF guy" who could solve any weird bug that we found when implementing our web services.
After Leap Frog I started the insurance gig. I was pretty much given carte blanche over the JAX:WS stack to use. In my heart of hearts I knew the insurance company wanted me to use Axis as they were a big IBM shop and Webphere Application Server (WAS) comes equipt with a "Web Services Pack". Given the complexity of HL7, and the ridgidity of WAS "Packs" I forged ahead with CXF.
For the most part the large and unruley HL7 schemas were consumed without problem by CXF. However, there were snags. Mostly with JAXB and Schema validation. I'm talking problems where I debug the stack for two days and still don't know what the hell is going on! I became desparate at certain points, I mean we'd run into a problem and I'd need an answer or some type of direction on how to proceed. All I would have to do usually is email the CXF-user mailing list and my answer would be addressed within a day. There were some problems though where I couldn't wait. I mean problems where people are literally waiting, money is being lost because we can't deploy for testing. That's when I needed more interactive help.
My friend Jeff Genender who I worked with at Leap Frog suggested I talk to Dan Kulp over at irc.codehaus.org on the #cxf channel. So I did just that, and wow,what a smart, polite and helpful person Dan is! He helped me through some of the weirdest problems. He got me to create test cases to demonstrate my problems, and even helped me navigate the CXF code such that I was able to submit my own patches when I had a resolution for a problem. Dan recently lost his job due to lay-offs at Progress, and after a short "vacation" of spending time with his family and fighting off job offers, he decided to work for SOPERA, which looks like a perfect fit for Dan. He still gets to be lead on CXF, maturing the framework and generally kicking ass supporting it, while working on Service Mix and other frameworks comprising SOPERAs product offerings.
Well Dan, all I can say is I'm truely grateful for your help. You are the type of project lead that shows how agile OSS projects can be! Both myself and Great West Life Assurance owe you a debt of gratitude. I'm continuing on to a new contract now with Morgan Stanley, and I'll do my best to ensure CXF is our web services framework of choice. I'll also contribute more patches, and help out with the JIRAs!