Archive for May, 2006

Web 2.0: O’Reilly Sends in the Laywers

I have it on good authority that it@Cork who are organizing the upcoming [Tag]Web 2.0[/Tag](sm) Conference had a lengthy communication from O’Reilly’s New York lawyers today. Apparently [Tag]O’Reilly[/Tag] have an impending application for registration of web 2.0 as a service mark and it@Cork’s use of it violates their exclusive rights.

Let me say it again – the Emperor has no clothes on. This is proof, if more proof were needed, that this whole so-called movement is nothing more than an exercise in self-interest, and that the real value of Web 2.0(sm) is to those who own it, and not to those who are being exhorted to believe in it.

- brendan lawlor -

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Google Web Toolkit

There has been a very big buzz since [tag]Google[/tag] announced the release of the [tag]Google Web Toolkit[/tag]. I have to admit to being very excited about the potential here. The idea is excellent: Develop your web interface in Java using a widget set that is similar to Swing. Run it from your IDE using a supporting main class that Google provides. Debug the running code just like any other Java code. When you’re happy with what you have, compile the result into javascript using a tool provided as part of the toolkit, and deploy like any other web application.

I like this from a number of fronts:

  1. I hate [tag]javascript[/tag]. There, I said it. I can think of a thousand things I’d like to do before sitting down and cobbling together a few lines of that. When I use it I feel like I’m applying sticky tape to the application. Anything that allows me to remain inside an engineering environment and outsource the javascripting is a Good Thing.
  2. Say what you like about Swing, it’s a sound programming model. An event-driven, component-based approach is the right way to go about creating GUIs. That’s what JSF is attempting to emulate.
  3. I believe GWT will dovetail very nicely thank you with other ongoing efforts here in DSI to make our web pages use CSS in as close a way as possible to Zen.

So what has GWT got that JSF doesn’t? Take a look at Crazy Bob and Rick Hightower for starters. Crazy Bob makes the point that [tag]GWT[/tag] has been designed with AJAX in mind from the start. At the time of writing, Rick hasn’t quite got past saying “wow”.

I have to admit that I just prefer, at a gut level, the product of a bunch of clever developers from Google, to the result of the [tag]JSF[/tag] committee deliberations amongst would-be tool vendors. I know, I know. That’s unfair and a bit facile. But one thing is for sure. DSI is looking for the next logical step in building better web applications, and we’ll be putting both of these options to the test over the coming months.

- brendan lawlor -

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JavaOne 2006 – Day 4

Waking up early was harder than I imagined this morning. A few drinks that we had last night had somehow something to do with it. But after the first coffee of the morning I was already feeling better.

Fourth and the last day of the 11th JavaOne started with a crowded general session. John Gage was the host and before inviting Scott McNealy, he gave a few stats about the previous 3 days:

Here are the 3 most attended sessions:

  1. Simpler, Faster, Better: Concurrency Utilities in JDK Software Version 5.0
  2. Java Technology, AJAX, Web 2.0 and SOA
  3. Effective Java Reloaded

Looking at this list, I’m surprised how the second one didn’t come first. Using AJAX, Web 2.0 and SOA in the same title should have secured this session the first position in highest popularity list. Only if they could throw Spring in it too… :) Some of the sessions were so popular that 20 of them repeated this afternoon.

Scott McNealy gave the winner of the Ride Your Bike to Work Week his prize, a jersey signed by Lence Armstrong (That initiative saved 5 tons of green gas emissions). Then McNealy presented his 10 best things about not being a CEO anymore :)

10) I don’t have to apologize for stuff I say to Wall Street.
9) No longer on the most overpaid CEO list.
8) I just say “See Jonathan on that”.
7) I read Hockey News without guilt
6) I shave even less often.
5) No more SOX certification.
4) I have someone to blame.
3) I can sell my last business suit.
2) Jonathan doesn’t golf, so I guess I gotta do it.
1) My new office is VERY close to the Men’s Room.

A quick review of what has happened since the first JavaOne was to follow. Actually it’s seriously amazing how far Java came in 11 years: Mars landing vehicle, shipping containers, sensing devices, more than a billion phones, almost a billion PCs, BlueRay, DVD, PlayStation 3, 1.5 billion Java Smart cards are in the hands of the people all around the world. These are the things no one could think of 11 years ago. Another good news is that there are more than 5 million Java developers around the world. Wow!

McNealy called the era that we’re living in the Participation Age. Rather than consuming, we participate. Even now, by writing this blog entry, I’m enforcing this theory.

James Gosling‘s section started with him presenting Scott McNealy the Golden Duke award. Then, a demo attempt followed :). Project Jackpot is a Refactoring manager for NetBeans and it was demoed using NetBeans 5.0. Demo Gods hit at the very start and Jackpot’s custom refactoring creator tool didn’t work.

I’m glad that I checked my e-mails in the morning because I saw that there was a new Rod Johnson talk scheduled right after the general session. It was held in a small room and it was very casual and interactive. At the end of the session, I had the opportunity to talk to him about our presentation in SpringOne next month. He looked excited about hearing our early adoption of the new XML schema support.

The following technical session was Scott Ambler‘s agile session. He reiterated some of the very important ideas of agile development. I was happy to see that our current agile development had put us in front of the most of the people attending this talk. The quality of the session was perfect, as one would expect from Scott Ambler. However I was appalled by his general arrogance. I didn’t count how many times he employed the word “stupid” but it must be at least a few dozen times. He is one of the most renowned experts in software development processes however it seemed that he sees himself like a demi-god. He said that a few years ago he came across a young person having a look at the popular Mythical Man Month book. The person in question made a comment like “Oh, I didn’t know that they knew about these things 30 years ago” and Scott Ambler said that he suddenly thought “Of course you stupid! …” What the?!? So he thinks that people are stupid when they don’t know something. Either Mr Ambler has a memory like Wikipedia or he thinks that life revolves around software development processes. A little humility is needed between his shoulders and his ridiculous hat.

One of the interesting sessions of the day was about real-time Java. A very comprehensive theoretical section was followed by 3 demos about a robotic car, a real-time CORBA ORB and Boeing’s ScanEagle using RTSJ. ScanEagle is very cool unmanned aerial vehicle.

We’re flying home tomorrow but the nature has already started the transition period for us because it rained today and the forecast doesn’t look good for tomorrow either. We finished the day in The Stinking Rose restaurant. Obviously everything we ate was full of garlic, including the garlic ice-cream. We will be stinking garlic for a few days… you are warned… :)

- Yagiz Erkan -

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JavaOne 2006 – Day 3

Day 3… My jet lag is totally gone as I couldn’t wake up this morning. Thankfully Jason knocked on the door to wake me up and we were just in time for the IBM keynote given by Erich Gamma and John Wiegand. During the keynote, they explained the Eclipse development process and its evolution. It was very interesting and they did a good job in not turning the keynote into a company advertisement session. They concluded the general session with a demo of their new team collaboration application called Jazz. Jazz is currently a research project and it is an extension to Eclipse. It had nice feature. For example, it contained a “buddy list” listing all the developers of the project. The ones who were online were clearly indicated and the pictures of the developers who were offline were greyed out. It looked very promising as a collaboration tool but I have the impression that it is going to make part of the Rational tool suite.

Right after the general session, the first technical session I attended was presented by Gilad Bracha. He was a brilliant presenter, which made a big difference in keeping attendees interested in the topic that was presented. I guess I wasn’t the only one noticing his unusual title. Gilad Bracha is a Computational Theologist. I didn’t understand whether this was a joke or not. And later during the day, I checked his home page where it said: “Computational Theology is a term I invented to describe my work on the specifications of the Java programming language and the Java virtual machine. Initially, my work was focused on interpretation of existing specifications. This interpretive work had a legalistic, even talmudic flavor, and these specifications are, so to speak, the “holy books” of the Java platform. Hence the analogy with theology.” I found this very smart! :)

After this one, Jason and I decided to go for a different type of session. I followed him to the “Developing a Sony PlayStation emulator in Java”. The first ten minutes of the speech was very interesting. It was a project developed by a single engineer on his spare time. However, obviously, his company didn’t miss this opportunity to advertise their work even though it had nothing to do with PlayStation nor gaming.

During the day, we went to meet the guys in the Amazon stand, being the first proud Amazon integrators outside the USA.

We also talked to Matt Quail from Cenqua. Brendan had asked me to say hello to him on his behalf and I did so. We talked about their upcoming product called Crucible and how we see it perfectly fitting our agile process. They are a great bunch of developers and they are always good in receiving our feedback. We’ve been using their popular products Clover and FishEye for a while with great success. Currently we’re using an alpha version of Crucible and it looks like it’s going to put some more structure around our code reviews.

Without a doubt, this year in JavaOne, the most popular technology is AJAX. You should have seen the queues to get in the sessions talking about AJAX. Everybody is interesting in it because they hear about it mentioned everywhere. I attended a few sessions about various frameworks and another one that was called “AJAX Framework Smackdown”. The interesting thing in this session was that it didn’t only contain AJAX frameworks but it tried to be more generic by including someone form Flex 2.0/Flash team, someone from JSF design committee, and even someone from the desktop UI team. It was a good and very interactive session.

One of the very interesting technologies that I’ve seen in this year’s JavaOne is called JAXX. It is an XML user interface framework used to develop desktop applications. It currently generates Swing code. Having done some Swing development in the past, I know that it can easily become tedious. One of the points that I liked with JAXX was that JAXX files are compiled into Java classes therefore there is no runtime overhead at all. The demos looked powerful and it didn’t seem to have a specific learning curve of its own. I think a Swing developer can use it without any training. Unfortunately it lacks proper tooling support however Ethan Nicholas, the developer behind JAXX project, said that he was thinking about an Eclipse plugin. Debugging a JAXX application is possible through intermediary Java files, which sounds like debugging a JSP by using the Java files generated by the container. I can’t believe it’s the end of the third day already.

After the conferences we went for a quick drink in the Irish Bank, which apparently used to be a Bank of Ireland branch. It’s a nice spot.

Now I’m going to bed and tomorrow is going to be the last day of JavaOne 2006.

- Yagiz Erkan -

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JavaOne 2006 – Day 2

Day 2 of the JavaOne pilgrimage started with a low-fat grande latte and two fruit scones from Starbucks (Jason went for a double espresso). Oracle’s keynote speech was the first session of the day. It was in the general session hall however it was not as busy as yesterday morning.

During their presentation, Oracle emphasized 3 main topics. First of them is not a surprise to anyone: Java EE 5. Oracle has been committed to enterprise Java and they showed their support for the new version of Java EE. However the other two came as a surprise to me. I was surprised and disappointed. The second topic was Web 2.0 and the third topic was branded as SOA 2.0. It seems that the twodotohitis is contagious. SOA 2.0 means Next Generation Service Oriented Architecture. It’s not a product, it’s not a specification, it’s just a type of architecture for heaven’s sake! How shallow are we going to get in search of managers willing to pay for fancy names rather than real solutions?

Anyway… Going back to JavaOne, the big news of the day: Oracle announced that they had decided to open-source and to donate their EJB3 reference implementation to project GlassFish.

Another good news is that Oracle has been working with Interface21 (the company behind the Spring Framework) in order to implement an integration with Java Persistence API. They have support for technologies like PHP, Ruby on Rails, Grails (formerly known as Groovy on Rails). They demoed their free Eclipse plug-in to EJBs with a few annotations, to map POJOs to the database, to create POJOs from the database tables, to create a one-to-many relationship and to create a WebServices defined by just one annotation. It looked really powerful. It is also interesting that Oracle developed an Eclipse plug-in giving the fact that Eclipse is a direct competitor of JDeveloper. Even though JDeveloper has been free for a while, it seems that it is not very popular. At least, that’s one of the Oracle engineers told us when we visited their stand ;).

They announced support for technologies like Service Orchestration, Service Monitoring, Service Security, Service Management as part of their new generation SOA initiative. They talked about WebServices security as if it were something simple. I wish it were… And I was expecting them to have a WSDM compliant management solution however they didn’t mention WSDM at all. Then they gave a service orchestration demo. As always, it looked easy during a demo :). The BPEL designer and the workflow editor seem very powerful.

On the UI side, they have JSF components generating client side AJAX code, which I think is a powerful way of reusing Web components. A discussion about different type of UI was followed by a demo of JSF and AJAX. It was a very simple shopping cart example. We’re technical enough not to be impressed by this type of demos. However I believe Java needs this kind of tool support to compete with Microsoft. Using JDeveloper, the speaker created AJAX-enabled Web code by dragging and dropping components. In last year’s JavaOne, they had announced that they would open source/donate a large set of JSF components. They said that they kept their promises by contributing to the Apache MyFaces project with this comprehensive component set.

The technical sessions and the BOF sessions that I attended today were of excellent quality. Two sessions led by Joshua Bloch were full of good ideas, tips and solutions. I really enjoyed them as they were very technical. In Effective Java Reloaded, he mostly talked about Java 5 features such as Generics and Annotations. In Java Puzzlers: Tiger Traps, he showed us a few interesting corner cases that caused enough confusion in the crowd :).

Rod Johnson’s Spring Framework Update followed by Keith Donald’s Spring Web Flow didn’t let me enough time to have a correct lunch. Jason and I met for 10 minutes to eat some strange lasagna, which we couldn’t agree whether it contained meat or not. Rod Johnson started by saying that we should probably stop using the term POJO and start simply using the term object. I can see where he’s coming from but our industry adores acronyms. I’d be surprised if people could let go a popular one such as POJO. Good luck :)! Then he went through the new and noteworthy of Spring 2.0, such as configuration simplification, SimpleJdbcTemplate, XML schema support, message-driven POJOs and major AOP enhancements. One of the strongest messages of the session was that Spring 2.0 is fully backward compatible.

Keith Donald’s presentation was enforced by various demos. The good thing was that during his speech he didn’t forget about the Struts developers. His presentation and demos covered Struts and Web Flow integration as well as Spring MVC integration. In addition, he talked about Spring Web Flow’s JSF integration. He announced that Monday Spring Web Flow RC2 will be released. It turns out that its future roadmap holds some cool things such as: nested parallel flow executions, JMX-based flow execution management, conversation history support (breadcrumbs, stats, etc.), more integration (Tapestry, Acegi, etc.).

Jason‘s presentation went very very well. The attendance was good and we talked to some fellow developers after the session. I believe that the real-life aspect of the presentation and our being independent form Quest increased the interest in this session. As a pleasant surprise, we met Andrew Evers, the brain behind Redwood’s CronacleBeans, just before Jason’s presentation and he stayed throughout the session. We’ll probably attend his BOF tomorrow night.

Then I attended two more sessions about Struts 2.0… No, just kidding :). Not all next generations are 2.0 :). It was about Struts Ti, which offers a good solution for development teams having Struts expertise going forward.

After a BOF about Tapestry, I ended the day with Rod Johnson’s Testing session. Without a doubt, it was one of the best sessions so far.

I just remembered that I forgot to mention 2 things in yesterday’s blog entry:

First, during the opening keynote speech, one of the co-speakers was the colorful character Mark Fleury. He went up the stage with a red beret and he said that they were trying to come up with a name for the new company after the merge: JHat or RedBoss.

Second, you should have seen the people running to the Java pavillion when the doors opened. No one should underestimate the power of freebie stuff on a developer, whereas this year, I refuse to bring anything home just because it’s free, especially now that Maria stopped collecting pens.

- Yagiz Erkan -

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JavaOne 2006 – Day 1

Since I arrived, the weather has been fantastic in San Francisco and the sky an amazing blue, but I’m not going to blog about the Californian climate.

First of all, JavaOne is very special for us this year because Jason is going to speak at the conference tomorrow. He is going to talk about profiling and tuning enterprise Java applications using Quest’s JProbe and Performasure. It’s a pity I forgot to bring a camera but I’ll use my mobile phone to take a few pictures. I’m not sure how many Irish companies had the opportunity and the priviledge to present at the biggest Java conference in the world but not even a handful I presume. We’re proud to be here.

Like last year, there was a big queue at the entrance of the Moscone Center in the morning. Last year I had to go 180 degrees around the block (I’m not exaggerating) to queue up (or to get in line as they say here), this year we only had to do 90 degrees… quite an improvement.

The size of the general session hall was impressive. There were thousands of Java developers who came to attend the opening of JavaOne 2006. My first impression was: JavaOne is going to be very big this year. There was a pleasant music played by a live band for a while and it lasted until a major part of the hall was full. Then the first of the 188 sessions started.

Single biggest question/discussion topic before this year’s JavaOne had been whether Sun would open source Java or not. Sun’s new executive VP of Software, Richard Green’s answer was very smart and politically correct. He said “It’s not a question of whether but how”. Immediately after this announcement, they displayed a slide that showed a sign saying “Come in we’re open”. There’s always been a big debate about open sourcing Java. I, personally, am not so convinced that it’s a good idea. Or, let’s say, I think that it should not be done without thinking carefully. That’s what I liked in Sun’s answer to this question. It’s going to happen but they have to find the best way to realize it.

During the remaining of the general session, there were various product demos, such as Project GlassFish with NetBeans 5.5, Sun’s Studio Creator with AJAX capabilities, Java/.NET interoperability, and so on.

It is obvious that Sun put the emphasis on their NetBeans IDE this year. It looks pretty cool. With the new Subversion support and the various extensions such as the Enterprise Pack (demoed during the session as well), I think it is going to steal some percentage of the IDE market. It felt like NetBeans was used in all the demos throughout the day.

Towards the end of the opening keynote, seeing the Pet Store application brought back bad memories about the EJB days :). However the demo was a completely revamped version using AJAX, which is one of the most popular conference topics.

We spent the rest of the day by running from one session to the other. There were veeeeery long queues to get into the popular sessions, such as “Java & REST” or “Concurrency in Java 5 & 6″. Thankfully, having prepared the schedule using the online conference planner gave us a little advantage over the people who hadn’t pre-enrolled.

I found that the session about Service Component Architecture was very confusing. It was a disappointment, really. The way that it was presented reminded me of EJBs. In some of the slides, replacing the word Service by EJB wouldn’t fell wrong.

The late BOF (Birds-Of-a-Feather) sessions continue to be very interesting. With their smaller audience, they continue to be much more interactive.

Tomorrow the day is going to start with Oracle’s General Session at 8:30. We’ll see what kind of surprises they have for us…

- Yagiz Erkan -

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2.0 Wheels on my Bandwagon

It’s a genuine pleasure to see [tag]Cork[/tag] attracting world class speakers and events – something that is happening regularly these days thanks in large measure to a very active it@Cork. I have to admit that my pleasure at the latest such event is somewhat diluted by its topic: [tag]Web 2.0[/tag] Mini Conference.

Yagiz and I have already exhibited enough righteous indignation at the ease with which meaningless buzzwords are born in this industry.

Well now I’m beginning to think that the whole Web 2.0 thing is a big joke (a deliberate one, that is). Any day now, [tag]O’Reilly[/tag] and friends are going to hold a press conference, shaking with laughter and wiping away tears, swearing that they never thought it would go this far. Take a look at the San Francisco Web 2.0 conference site (Apparently it’s the third annual Web 2.0 conference – did I miss a year!?) It’s slogan is Disruption and Opportunity. Could it be any more obvious!? Disruption for those of us who are trying to make a living creating software. Opportunity for those who are making a living selling us snake oil. I expect that O’Reilly’s keynote speaker this year will be Edna Mode from The Incredibles, linking in by satellite to tell us that Web 2.0 looks “too fabulous on you Dahling”.

If you are planning on attending this event (and trading is brisk, I’m told) then I would respectfully suggest you measure its success by the following yardstick:

If in the course of the afternoon’s proceedings you find you are learning something useful – some way of doing your job better that will make your business stronger – then great! If on the otherhand you find that yourself nothing but a voyeur to a thought-leader love-in, then head to the refreshments table and try to extract some value there instead. Here are some tell-tale signs that you should direct yourself towards IT@Cork’s excellent selection of New World wines:

  • You feel like you are partaking in a reprise of the “Blessed are the Cheesemakers” scene from Life of Brian.
  • You have the feeling that comes 30 minutes after eating fast food: You distinctly remember eating something but you still feel hungry.
  • You realise that the reason you find yourself nodding vehemently in agreement is that you’re being told something that you already know.
  • You want to put your hand up and ask a question, but as nothing you’ve heard so far makes any sense to you, you’re afraid that you’ll look foolish in front of your peers. (Guess what – it really doesn’t make any sense!)

I earnestly hope I’m wrong, and that something practical and useful can be learned from the day. I might even attend. Though I expect I’ll be standing within easy reach of the Chilean Merlot.

- brendan lawlor -

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