Continuing our series of posts introducing you to some of the developers behind WebSphere Liberty, meet Fred Rowe



Fred mountain biking in the Sandia Mountain foothills.

Fred is the architect for the JCA/JDBC components of Liberty, WebSphere Application Server (WAS) traditional, and for WAS on the IBM i platform. When he first started working on WAS, 10 years ago, he worked on the runtime team on projects like RCS and provisioning. For the past three years, he’s worked on Liberty. Before joining IBM almost 14 years ago, he worked in telecoms and then for a start-up doing wireless apps before there was much wireless signal (think WAP!).

I’d have to say Liberty is one the coolest projects I’ve worked on because it has required that we fundamentally transform the way IBMers work and think. It’s gratifying to see companies now using Liberty in production to solve real-world problems, and more and more developers asking questions about it on StackOverflow and dWAnswers. Being part of the WebSphere organisation, going from waterfall development and 2-3 year release cycles to agile development and continuous delivery without sinking the flagship product, has been a rewarding journey and one that I don’t think enough credit is given to the Liberty team for.

Fred started coding over 35 years ago when he was working for a screen printing company as a graphic artist. The company needed a way to automate the cost estimation of printing jobs so they bought a TRS-80 and hired a developer to write an app. After the developer left, Fred then debugged and fixed the app.

I scraped together enough to buy a Commodore 64 out of fascination with the graphics (it had 16-color sprites!).

With degrees in electrical engineering and software engineering, he got into computing as a career because he’d always enjoyed the structure of coding. His first computer was a Commodore 64. He bought a paperback that contained the source listing of a Star Trek game (similar to the game of Battleship) written in BASIC that was meant for TTY text terminals. As he typed the source in, he learned to debug the code because of the poor quality of the print and the differences he found in BASIC variants. Once it was up-and-running, he learned to design code by extending the line-by-line game into a full-screen version with graphics and sound (the original uses asterisks, periods, and other punctuation characters to create a 2-D image).

I work from home in the desert.



Sandia Mtns at sunset. Sandia means watermelon in Spanish. See the deep pink and red colors.

Having grown up on the coast as a sixth-generation North Carolinian, Fred now lives, works from home, and mountain bikes in the desert of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Outside of work, he’s into DIY and building, rebuilding, repairing, maintaining, and remodelling houses. When he’s not doing that, he mountain bikes and goes on roadtrips with his husband, John, in their RV to hike in the National Parks.

I mountain bike on the trails of the Sandia Mountains where I specialize in careening off rocks and into cacti.



Fred with husband John at the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world’s largest hot air balloon convention with over 500 balloons.

More from Fred

The everyday tech he can’t live without would have to be…

GPS. I use it for shopping, hiking, RV’ing

If you ask a Java EE question on the websphere-liberty tag on Stack Overflow, Fred might answer it as tries to contribute answers when he can.

Something random about Fred

I’ve slept in a tent at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

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