May 16, 2005
1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your involvement with the Azureus project.
I’m a 24 year old Software Developer turned Law Student. I attended New College of Florida as a Software Systems Design major. Currently, I’ve turned my focus to my first semester at Stetson College of Law in Gulfport, FL. My involvement with Azureus started as a co-founder with Oliver Chalouhi. I stayed with the project for approximately a year, while establishing Azureus 1 and the beginnings of Azureus 2 (the current version).
2. What’s with the name? Whose idea was it?
The name came from the way I name internal projects for my Software Consulting Company, Warfrog.com. All internal projects are named after the scientific name of different Poison Dart Frogs. For example, my thesis was named Auratus, after Dendrobates Auratus (Golden Dart Frog) and Azureus came from Dendrobates Azureus (Blue Dart Frog).
3. As a co-creator, can you tell us what led to the making of Azureus? Did you just decide one day to make a better Bittorrent client, or was there some particular circumstance that made you decide to do this?
The original project started from a conversation from Oliver and myself on #bittorrent on irc.freenode.net. We decided to make the “first” pure Java based BitTorrent client. Personally, I am a huge fan of Java and wanted to prove that a fast, stable, and most importantly graphical client could be built in 100% Java. I can’t speak for Oliver, but I always got the feeling he had about the same feelings. Of course, as with all developers we wanted to create something great for the world, it’s just in our blood.
4. Why did you choose to code this in Java? Was cross-platform compatibility your aim from the beginning, or was it added later?
While cross-platform compatibility was one of the core requirements, I believe it wasn’t so much a decision specifically related to the building of the client as it was to why we both chose to chose Java in our professional lives. One of the main factors in choosing to become a Java developer was its ability to function on multiple platforms with relative ease.
5. Did Azureaus become insanely popular as soon as you released it, or was there a time lag before it started becoming really popular?
The original project Azureus had a decent acceptance in the BitTorrent community, but I definitely wouldn’t call it an “instant hit.” The initial client had some bugs and some problem. For example, it couldn’t handle 4 GB files in the initial release, some problems with parsing of torrents, hashing issues, but the main problem was the interface. While the bugs in Azureus were quickly wiped out, the interface definitely held the project back. Gudy decided to make a radical change in the BitTorrent community and integrate all the torrents into one interface. He spent a lot of time developing custom components for SWT and working on the layout and I must admit he did an amazing job. Once the new interface was slapped onto the Azureus backend it was decided to call the new project Azureus 2, because it was so radically different. While I wouldn’t call Azureus an “instant hit” I would say Azureus 2 was.
6. Was the development team surprised by the demand for Azureus?
I must admit most of the team is pretty confident, but we were definitely surprised to see the community response. We figured if we put our hearts into the project it’d do well, but we didn’t expect all the feed back, bug posts, forum posts, etc. The community involvement was amazing compared to most of the other projects I’ve been involved with. While most projects have a “core” group of bug reporters or forum posters, Azureus seemed to attract a huge crowd of “novice” users as “pseudo-developers” as I call them.
7. Did you ever think of making Azureus a commercial product? If you did, what made you decide to refrain?
The team discussed the notion of making a commercial project, but having been involved with a few commercial P2P projects before working on Azureus, I guess I was a little hesitant to start a company from the project. I always viewed Azureus as something to give back to the community not something to make money from. Anyway, sometime after I left the project I know some of the other developers launched a new project called Aelitis (http://www.aelitis.com/) and as I understand it, they’re taking what they’ve learned from Azureus and applying it to a commercial venture.
8. Are you still actively involved with development? If not, could you share with us why you decided to leave the project?
No I’m not involved with the project anymore. My main reason for leaving was I had achieved my goal of building a BitTorrent client in Java and wanted to move on to other areas of study.
9. Where is Azureus headed? Is there a roadmap for the program, or are features added as and when required/requested?
I know that the development team’s main push the last time I talked to them was in getting their plug-in architecture adopted more by the community. Features were typically added as they’re needed.
10. Could you share some of the upcoming features of Azureus, or any news about it.
The team has just released a new decentralized tracker plug-in allowing for peers to locate other peers even when the tracker of the torrent is down. It’s a pretty radical step in the BitTorrent world allowing for greater stability of downloads, by allowing for fast access to peers if a tracker is available and a slower decentralized system when the tracker disappears.
11. What are your thoughts on the future of the BitTorrent protocol? Do you ever see the protocol being legislated out of existence, or at least pushed out of the mainstream consciousness?
Having worked with several P2P projects and researched countless P2P protocols I don’t see BitTorrent going anywhere anytime soon. The protocol itself has nothing innately illegal to it nor does the reason the first clients were created for, distribution of Linux. While more modern applications of the clients appears to have been for piracy several companies still use BitTorrent for distribution of their files. For example, I know several game companies release their demos through BitTorrent, The Scene and The Scene also release their “IPTV” shows over BitTorrent. While I think we won’t see BitTorrent going anywhere soon I think there are still some issues in the protocol that could be cleaned up, like a decentralized tracking system, but that’s another topic all together.
Cheers, Tyler Pitchford