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Why the name Acegi?

Between Rod’s recent blog on the origins of the Interface name, a recent thread querying the renaming of Acegi Security, and a suggestion late last year from my colleague Ben Hale to blog about the origins of the “Acegi” name, I’ve decided that it’s probably time to do so!

First of all, the pronunciation: it’s “ah-see-gee”. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s go through where it came from:

  • Back in the early 1990s, I started a bulletin board system. I still remember using my first 300 baud modem, and actually watching the characters appearing at the same speed as I could read them! Anyway, a BBS required a name, and I quite liked “Midnight BBS” (or was it “Lightning BBS”?). After attempting to register my preferred name with the Australian BBS Registry, I received a phone call to be informed that the name was taken. I searched for another name, found no conflicts, and changed all of my screens (anyone remember Avatar?). I then went to register the BBS with its new name, although someone else had just beaten me to the same name. There were about 800 BBSes in Australia around the time - this was competitive stuff! So, I decided to go with something that was guaranteed to be original: characters 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 from the English alphabet. Acegi BBS was then born.

  • This was the BBS heyday. It had callers from all across Australia, and it was the first BBS in our area code to acquire the seemingly limitless capacity of a CD-ROM. I became the 3:624 network coordinator for Fidonet and helped distributed “echomail” throughout our region. Before long, people started sending cheques payable to “Acegi BBS”, as they wanted greater file download limits and access to Fidonet’s netmail.

  • Because I needed to cash cheques with “Acegi” in the name, in early 1993 we decided to register a business name. Acegi Computer Technology was selected, and people happily made out their cheques accordingly.

  • In about 1995, I moved to Sydney with work. Dial-up Internet was just starting to become publicly available in Australia (it still cost around $5 per hour for modem access!). Because a BBS draws most of its users from a particular local area and I was leaving that area, I gave Acegi BBS to a friend to continue running. He too subsequently moved, and passed the BBS to another friend. I lost track after that. I did a Google for “Acegi BBS” and even found an old 1995 record of it.

  • By 1996 I needed a company for my IT projects, so Acegi Technology Pty Limited was born. It has remained operational since.

  • Sometime around November 2003, I wrote what eventually became Acegi Security. I put it into a ZIP file and shot it across to Rod and Juergen. I proposed the new project be called “Spring Security”. However, they didn’t have time to fully review it at that stage, so suggested I simply get it out there as “_____ Security System for Spring”. As such, I prefixed “Acegi” into the name. As of today there are about 660,000 hits on Google for a search of “Acegi”, and nearly all of it relates to the security framework.

Where to now? The next phase of the name is a “fork”. Whilst Acegi Technology Pty Limited will continue to operate, Acegi Security will be renamed to “Spring Security”. We’re undertaking the rename for several good reasons. However, it’s more than just a renaming exercise. It’s actually a repositioning, moving Acegi Security even further into the Spring portfolio of products.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Spring portfolio, you’ll be hearing more about it over the coming months. Spring is really a family of related products with comparable technical and cultural dimensions. Every product in the Spring portfolio shares a consistent quality of architecture, key design patterns, codebase, documentation, test coverage, friendly community, open source licensing, integrated samples, release roadmap and availability of commercial services (such as in-depth training and support) from Interface21.

Renaming Acegi Security to Spring Security reinforces its position in the Spring portfolio and its commitment to the aforementioned principles. Whilst I will continue to lead the project, my association with Interface21 and repositioning of Acegi Security into the Spring portfolio provides access to a broader range of skills and resources from our global team. Furthermore, Acegi Security’s roadmap will be aligned with other Interface21-led Spring portfolio products, which benefits the entire Spring community by providing consistent direction.

We also anticipate this repositioning will enhance adoption of Acegi Security. Our customers have told us that their corporate standards teams already approve of Spring Framework, so the repositioning will help developers obtain approval to use its integrated security module. A larger community also delivers more peer-to-peer community support, patches, feature suggestions, bug reports and developers.

These changes will be noticeable with release 1.1.0, which will offer namespace support and require Spring 2. At that point the product will be renamed, and package names will also change. We don’t anticipate the package renaming will cause any difficulties, as the move to namespaces also means a move to the new simplified configuration format that so many people have asked for. As such, people would likely be changing their configurations anyway. For those wishing to preserve the old configuration format, simply use find and replace. We won’t be changing the acegisecurity-developer mailing list or Subversion repository any time soon.

As you can imagine, these changes are not being taken lightly and have been carefully considered. We believe that it is in the best interests of the overall Spring community that a comprehensive and integrated product portfolio is available, leading to easier adoption, richer integrated samples, quality literature, a stronger community, and availability of professional services. I am pleased that Acegi Security will play its part in the Spring product portfolio, and the enhancements that this repositioning will deliver to everyone concerned.

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