Languages


2017 Tech Predictions

It’s that time of the year again, when I make predictions for the upcoming year. As has become my tradition now for nigh-on a decade, I will first go back over last years’ predictions, to see how well I called it (and keep me honest), then wax prophetic on what I think the new year has to offer us.


2016 Tech Predictions

As has become my tradition now for nigh-on a decade, I will first go back over last years’ predictions, to see how well I called it (and keep me honest), then wax prophetic on what I think the new year has to offer us.


Farewell Perl

This post is inspired by this post, describing why Perl "didn't win". I think that's being generous: Perl screwed up in a big way, and they did so in classic open-source (and closed-source) fashion, by focusing too much on the tech, and not enough on the value. Before we begin, though, let me make my biases clear: I am not a Perl fan. The irony of being the #2 hit for "Perl lover" on Google (today, #4, I just checked) is so loud as to be deafening.

Peoples be talkin'...

"Ted, where the hell did you go?" I've been getting this message periodically over a variety of private channels, asking if I've abandoned my blog and/or if I'm ever going to come back to it. No, I haven't abandoned it, yes, I'm going to come back to it, but there's going to be a few changes to my online profile that I'll give you a heads-up around... if anybody cares. :-) First of all, as I mentioned before, LiveTheLook and I parted ways back at the end of 2013.

Seattle (and other) GiveCamps

Too often, geeks are called upon to leverage their technical expertise (which, to most non-technical peoples' perspective, is an all-encompassing uni-field, meaning if you are a DBA, you can fix a printer, and if you are an IT admin, you know how to create a cool HTML game) on behalf of their friends and family, often without much in the way of gratitude. But sometimes, you just gotta get your inner charitable self on, and what's a geek to do then?

Programming Interviews

Apparently I have become something of a resource on programming interviews: I've had three people tell me they read the last two blog posts, one because his company is hiring and he wants his people to be doing interviews right, and two more expressing shock that I still get interviewed--which I don't really think is all that fair, more on that in a moment--and relief that it's not just them getting grilled on areas that they don't believe to be relevant to the job--and more on that in a moment, too.

On "Exclusive content"

Although it seems to have dipped somewhat in recent years, periodically I get requests from conferences or webinars or other presentation-oriented organizations/events that demand that the material I present be "exclusive", usually meaning that I've never delivered said content at any other organized event (conference or what-have-you). And, almost without exception, I refuse to speak at those events, or else refuse to abide by the "exclusive" tag (and let them decide whether they still want me to speak for them).

More on the Programming Tests Saga

A couple of people had asked how the story with the company that triggered the "I Hate Programming Tests" post ended, so I figured I'd follow up with the rest of that story, and some thoughts. After handing in the disjoint-set solution I'd come up with, the VP pondered things for a bit, then decided to bring me in for an in-person interview loop with a half-dozen of the others that work there.

Programming Tests

It's official: I hate them. Don't get me wrong, I understand their use and the reasons why potential employers give them out. There's enough programmers in the world who aren't really skilled enough for the job (whatever that job may be) that it becomes necessary to offer some kind of litmus test that a potential job-seeker must pass. I get that. And it's not like all the programming tests in the world are created equal: some are pretty useful ways to demonstrate basic programming facilities, a la the FizzBuzz problem.

More on Types

With my most recent blog post, some of you were a little less than impressed with the idea of using types, One reader, in particular, suggested that: Your encapsulating type aliases don't... encapsulate :| Actually, it kinda does. But not in the way you described. using X = qualified.type; merely introduces an alias, and will consequently (a) not prevent assignment of a FirstName to a LastName (b) not even be detectible as such from CLI metadata (i.e.

On OSS and Adoption

Are you one of those developers who can’t get his/her boss to let you download/prototype/use a Really Cool™ software package that happens to be open-source? Here’s a possible reason why. For no reason in particular, after installing Cygwin on an old laptop onto which I just dropped Win7, I decided to also drop MinGW32, Cygwin’s main competitor in the “UNIX-on-Windows” space. Wander off to the home page, grab an installer, read the “Getting Started” instructions, and….

On Types

Recently, having been teaching C# for a bit at Bellevue College, I’ve been thinking more and more about the way in which we approach building object-oriented programs, and particularly the debates around types and type systems. I think, not surprisingly, that the way in which the vast majority of the O-O developers in the world approach types and when/how they use them is flat wrong—both in terms of the times when they create classes when they shouldn’t (or shouldn’t have to, anyway, though obviously this is partly a measure of their language), and the times when they should create classes and don’t.

"Craftsmanship", by another name

This blog, talking about the "1/10" developer as a sort of factored replacement for the "x10" developer, caught my eye over Twitter. Frankly, I'm not sure what to say about it, but there's a part of me that says I need to say something. I don't like the terminology "1/10 developer". As the commenters on the author's blog suggest, it implies a denigration of the individual in question. I don't think that was the author's intent, but intentions don't matter--results do.

Programming language "laws"

As is pretty typical for that site, Lambda the Ultimate has a great discussion on some insights that the creators of Mozart and Oz have come to, regarding the design of programming languages; I repeat the post here for convenience: Now that we are close to releasing Mozart 2 (a complete redesign of the Mozart system), I have been thinking about how best to summarize the lessons we learned about programming paradigms in CTM.

Ted Neward on Java 8 adoption

Every once in a while, there is a moment in your life when inspiration just BAM! strikes out of nowhere, telling you what your next blog post is. Then, there’s this one. This blog post wasn’t inspired by any sort of bolt from the blue, or even a conversation with a buddy that led me to think, “Yeah, this is something that I should share with the world”. No, this one comes directly to you, from you.

"We Accept Pull Requests"

There are times when the industry in which I find myself does things that I just don't understand. Consider, for a moment, this blog by Jeff Handley, in which he essentially says that the phrase "We accept pull requests" is "cringe-inducing": Why do the words “we accept pull requests” have such a stigma? Why were they cringe-inducing when I spoke them? Because too many OSS projects use these words as an easy way to shut people up.

Java was not the first

Charlie Kindel blogs that he thinks James Gosling (and the rest of Sun) screwed us all with Java and it's "Write Once, Run Anywhere" mantra. It's catchy, but it's wrong. Like a lot of Charlie's blogs, he nails parts of this one squarely on the head: WORA was, is, and always will be, a fallacy. ... It is the “Write once…“ part that’s the most dangerous. We all wish the world was rainbows and unicorns, and “Write once…” implies that there is a world where you can actually write an app once and it will run on all devices.

Um... Security risk much?

While cruising through the Internet a few minute ago, I wandered across Meteor, which looks like a really cool tool/system/platform/whatever for building modern web applications. JavaScript on the front, JavaScript on the back, Mongo backing, it's definitely something worth looking into, IMHO. Thus emboldened, I decide to look at how to start playing with it, and lo and behold I discover that the instructions for installation are: curl https://install.meteor.com | sh Um....

Last Thoughts on "Craftsmanship"

TL;DR Live craftsmanship, don't preach it. The creation of a label serves no purpose other than to disambiguate and distinguish. If we want to hold people accountable to some sort of "professionalism", then we have to define what that means. I found Uncle Bob's treatment of my blog heavy-handed and arrogant. I don't particularly want to debate this anymore; this is my last take on the subject. I will freely admit, I didn't want to do this.

More on "Craftsmanship"

TL;DR: To all those who dissented, you're right, but you're wrong. Craftsmanship is a noble meme, when it's something that somebody holds as a personal goal, but it's often coming across as a way to beat up and denigrate on others who don't choose to invest significant time and energy into programming. The Zen Masters didn't walk around the countryside, proclaiming "I am a Zen Master!" Wow. Apparently I touched a nerve.

On the Dark Side of "Craftsmanship"

I don't know Heather Arthur from Eve. Never met her, never read an article by her, seen a video she's in or shot, or seen her code. Matter of fact, I don't even know that she is a "she"--I'm just guessing from the name. But apparently she got quite an ugly reaction from a few folks when she open-sourced some code: So I went to see what people were saying about this project.

On Functional Programming in Java

Elliott Rusty Harold is blogging that functional programming in Java is dangerous. He's wrong, and he's way late to the party on this one--it's coming to Java whether he likes it or not. Go read his post first, while I try to sum up the reasons he cites for saying it's dangerous: Java is not a lazy-evaluated language. Programmers in Java will screw up and create heap and stack errors as a result.

Review (in advance): F# Deep Dives

F# Deep Dives, by Tomas Petricek and Phillip Trelford, Manning Publications As many readers of my writing will already know, I've been kind of "involved" with F# (and its cousin on the JVM, Scala) for a few years now, to the degree that I and a couple of really smart guys wrote a book on the subject. Now, assuming you're one of the .NET developers who've heard of F# and functional programming, and took a gander at the syntax, and maybe even bought a book on it (my publisher and I both thank you if you bought ours), but weren't quite sure what to do with it, a book has come along to help get you past that.

Review: Metaprogramming in .NET

Metaprogramming in .NET, by Kevin Hazzard and Jason Bock, Manning Publications TL;DR: This is a great book (not perfect), but not an easy read for everyone, not because the writing is bad, but because the subject is a whole new level of abstraction above what most developers deal with. Full disclosure: Manning Publications is a publisher I've published with before, and Kevin and Jason are both friends of mine in the .NET community.

Tech Predictions, 2013

Once again, it's time for my annual prognostication and review of last year's efforts. For those of you who've been long-time readers, you know what this means, but for those two or three of you who haven't seen this before, let's set the rules: if I got a prediction right from last year, you take a drink, and if I didn't, you take a drink. (Best. Drinking game. EVAR!) Let's begin....

Envoy (in Scala, JavaScript, and more)

A little over a decade ago, Eugene Wallingford wrote a paper for the PloP '99 conference, describing the Envoy pattern language, "a pattern language for managing state in a functional program". It's a good read, but the implementation language for the paper is Scheme--given that it's a Lisp dialect, often isn't particularly obvious or easy to understand at first, I thought it might be interesting (both for me and any readers that wanted to follow along) to translate the implementation examples into a variety of different languages.

Scala syntax bug?

I'm running into a weird situation in some Scala code I'm writing (more on why in a later post), and I'm curious to know from my Scala-ish followers if this is a bug or intentional/"by design". First of all, I can define a function that takes a variable argument list, like so: def varArgs(key:String, args:Any*) = { println(key) println(args) true } varArgs("Howdy") And this is good. I can also write a function that returns a function, to be bound and invoked, like so: val good1 = (key:String) = { println(key) true } good1("Howdy") And this also works.

Cloud legal

There's an interesting legal interpretation coming out of the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) around the Megaupload case, and the EFF has said this: "The government maintains that Mr. Goodwin lost his property rights in his data by storing it on a cloud computing service. Specifically, the government argues that both the contract between Megaupload and Mr. Goodwin (a standard cloud computing contract) and the contract between Megaupload and the server host, Carpathia (also a standard agreement), "likely limit any property interest he may have" in his data.

Vietnam... in Bulgarian

I received an email from Dimitar Teykiyski a few days ago, asking if he could translate the "Vietnam of Computer Science" essay into Bulgarian, and no sooner had I replied in the affirmative than he sent me the link to it. If you're Bulgarian, enjoy. I'll try to make a few moments to put the link to the translation directly on the original blog post itself, but it'll take a little bit--I have a few other things higher up in the priority queue.

On JDD2012

There aren't many times that I cancel out of a conference (fortunately), so when I do I often feel a touch of guilt, even if I have to cancel for the best of reasons. (I'd like to think that if I have to cancel my appearance at a conference, it's only for the best of reasons, but obviously there may be others who disagree--I won't get into that.) The particular case that merits this blog post is my lack of appearance at the JDD 2012 show (JDD standing for "Java Developer Days") in Krakow, Poland.

On NFJS

As the calendar year comes to a close, it's time (it's well past time, in fact) that I comment publicly on my obvious absence from the No Fluff, Just Stuff tour. In January, when I emailed Jay Zimmerman, the organizer of the conference, to talk about topics for the coming year, I got no response. This is pretty typical Jay--he is notoriously difficult to reach over email, unless he has something he wants from you.

Just Say No to SSNs

Two things conspire to bring you this blog post. Of Contracts and Contracts First, a few months ago, I was asked to participate in an architectural review for a project being done for one of the states here in the US. It was a project dealing with some sensitive information (Child Welfare Services), and I was required to sign a document basically promising not to do anything bad with the data.

Leveling up “DDD”

Eric Evans, a number of years ago, wrote a book on “Domain Driven Design”. Around the same time, Martin Fowler coined the “Rich Domain Model” pattern. Ever since then, people have been going bat-shit nutso over building these large domain object models, then twisting and contorting them in all these various ways to make them work across different contexts—across tiers, for example, and into databases, and so on. It created a cottage industry of infrastructure tools, toolkits, libraries and frameworks, all designed somehow to make your objects less twisted and more usable and less tightly-coupled to infrastructure (I’ll pause for a moment to let you think about the absurdity of that—infrastructure designed to reduce coupling to other infrastructure—before we go on), and so on.

Is Programming Less Exciting Today?

As discriminatory as this is going to sound, this one is for the old-timers. If you started programming after the turn of the milennium, I don’t know if you’re going to be able to follow the trend of this post—not out of any serious deficiency on your part, hardly that. But I think this is something only the old-timers are going to identify with. (And thus, do I alienate probably 80% of my readership, but so be it.) Is it me, or is programming just less interesting today than it was two decades ago?

Tech Predictions, 2012 Edition

Well, friends, another year has come and gone, and it's time for me to put my crystal ball into place and see what the upcoming year has for us. But, of course, in the long-standing tradition of these predictions, I also need to put my spectacles on (I did turn 40 last year, after all) and have a look at how well I did in this same activity twelve months ago.

Changes, changes, changes

Many of you have undoubtedly noticed that my blogging has dropped off precipitously over the last half-year. The reason for that is multifold, ranging from the usual “I just don’t seem to have the time for it” rationale, up through the realization that I have a couple of regular (paid) columns (one with CoDe Magazine, one with MSDN) that consume a lot of my ideas that would otherwise go into the blog.

“Vietnam” in Belorussian

Recently I got an email from Bohdan Zograf, who offered: Hi! I'm willing to translate publication located at http://blogs.tedneward.com/2006/06/26/The+Vietnam+Of+Computer+Science.aspx to the Belorussian language (my mother tongue). What I'm asking for is your written permission, so you don't mind after I'll post the translation to my blog. I agreed, and next thing I know, I get the next email that it’s done. If your mother tongue is Belorussian, then I invite you to read the article in its translated form at http://www.moneyaisle.com/worldwide/the-vietnam-of-computer-science-be.

Multiparadigmatic C#

Back in June of last year, at TechEd 2010, the guys at DeepFriedBytes were kind enough to offer me a podcasting stage from which to explain exactly what “multiparadigmatic” meant, why I’d felt the need to turn it into a full-day tutorial at TechEd, and more importantly, why .NET developers needed to know not only what it meant but how it influences software design. They published that show, and it’s now out there for all the world to have a listen.

Tech Predictions, 2011 Edition

Long-time readers of this blog know what’s coming next: it’s time for Ted to prognosticate on what the coming year of tech will bring us. But I believe strongly in accountability, even in my offered-up-for-free predictions, so one of the traditions of this space is to go back and revisit my predictions from this time last year. So, without further ado, let’s look back at Ted’s 2010 predictions, and see how things played out; 2010 predictions are prefixed with “THEN”, and my thoughts on my predictions are prefixed with “NOW”: For 2010, I predicted....

Thoughts on an Apple/Java divorce

A small degree of panic set in amongst the Java development community over the weekend, as Apple announced that they were “de-emphasizing” Java on the Mac OS. Being the Big Java Geek that I am, I thought I’d weigh in on this. Let the pundits speak But first, let’s see what the actual news reports said: As of the release of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 3, the Java runtime ported by Apple and that ships with Mac OS X is deprecated.

Doing it Twice… On Different Platforms

Short version: Matthew Baxter-Reynolds has written an intriguing book, Multimobile Development, about writing the same application over and over again on different mobile platforms. On the one hand, I applaud the effort, and think this is a great resource for developers who want to get started on mobile development, particularly since this book means you won’t have to choose a platform first. On the other hand, there’s a few things about the book I didn’t like, such as the fact that it misses the third platform in the room (Windows Phone 7) and that it could go out of date fairly quickly.

VMWare help

Hey, anybody who’s got significant VMWare mojo, help out a bro? I’ve got a Win7 VM (one of many) that appears to be exhibiting weird disk behavior—the vmdk, a growable single-file VMDK, is almost precisely twice the used space. It’s a 120GB growable disk, and the Win7 guest reports about 35GB used, but the VMDK takes about 70GB on host disk. CHKDSK inside Windows says everything’s good, and the VMWare “Disk Cleanup” doesn’t change anything, either.

A well-done "movie trailer"

The JavaZone conference has just become one of my favorite conferences, EVAH. Check out this trailer they put together, entitled "Java 4-Ever". Yes, Microsofties, you should watch, too. Just leave off the evangelism for a moment and enjoy the humor of it. You've had your own fun over the years, too, or need I remind you of the Matrix video with Gates and Ballmer and the blue pill/red pill? ;-) This video brings several things to mind: Wow, that's well done.

Architectural Katas

By now, the Twitter messages have spread, and the word is out: at Uberconf this year, I did a session ("Pragmatic Architecture"), which I've done at other venues before, but this time we made it into a 180-minute workshop instead of a 90-minute session, and the workshop included breaking the room up into small (10-ish, which was still a teensy bit too big) groups and giving each one an "architectural kata" to work on.

Code Kata: RoboStack

Code Katas are small, relatively simple exercises designed to give you a problem to try and solve. I like to use them as a way to get my feet wet and help write something more interesting than "Hello World" but less complicated than "The Internet’s Next Killer App".   This one is from the UVa online programming contest judge system, which I discovered after picking up the book Programming Challenges, which is highly recommended as a source of code katas, by the way.

Code Kata: Compressing Lists

Code Katas are small, relatively simple exercises designed to give you a problem to try and solve. I like to use them as a way to get my feet wet and help write something more interesting than "Hello World" but less complicated than "The Internet's Next Killer App".   Rick Minerich mentioned this one on his blog already, but here is the original "problem"/challenge as it was presented to me and which I in turn shot to him over a Twitter DM:   I have a list, say something like [4, 4, 4, 4, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 5, 5], which consists of varying repetitions of integers.

Comments on the SDTimes article

Miguel de Icaza wrote up a good response to the SDTimes article in which both of us were quoted, and I thought it might serve to flesh out the discussion a bit more to chime in with my part in the piece. First and foremost, Miguel notes: David quotes Ted Neward (a speaker on the .NET and Java circuits, but not an open source guy by any stretch of the imagination).

Another Gartner prediction...

Let's see if this one holds: Gartner says that by 2012, Android will have a larger percentage of the worldwide mobile phone market than the iPhone, 14.5 % against 13.7%. Reasons to doubt this particular bit of prescience? Gartner also predicts that "Windows Mobile" will have "12.8 percent" of the market. This despite the fact that at MIX last week, Microsoft basically canned Windows Mobile in favor of a complete reboot called "Windows Phone Series 7" based on ideas from Silverlight and XNA.

Amanda takes umbrage....

... with my earlier speaking about F# post, which I will admit, surprises me, since I would've thought somebody interested in promoting F# would've been more supportive of the idea of putting some ideas out to help other speakers get F# more easily adopted by the community. Perhaps I misunderstood her objections, but I thought a response was required in any event. Amanda opens with: Let's start with the "Do" category.

How to (and not to) give a talk on F#

Michael Easter called me out over Twitter tonight, entirely fairly. This blog post is to attempt to make right. Context: Tonight was a .NET Developer Association meeting in Redmond, during which we had two presentations: one on Entity Framework, and one on F#. The talk on F#, while well-meaning and delivered by somebody I've not yet met personally, suffered from several failures that I believe to be endemic to Microsoft's approach to presenting F#.

Don't Fear the dynamic/VARIANT/Reaper....

A couple of days ago, a buddy of mine, Scott Hanselman, wrote a nice little intro to the "dynamic" type in C# 4.0. In particular, I like (though don't necessarily 100% agree with) his one-sentence summation of dynamic as "There's no way for you or I to know the type of this now, compiler, so let's hope that the runtime figures it out." It's an interesting characterization, but my disagreement with his characterization is not the point here, at least not of this particular blog entry.

10 Things To Improve Your Development Career

Cruising the Web late last night, I ran across "10 things you can do to advance your career as a developer", summarized below: Build a PC Participate in an online forum and help others Man the help desk Perform field service Perform DBA functions Perform all phases of the project lifecycle Recognize and learn the latest technologies Be an independent contractor Lead a project, supervise, or manage Seek additional education I agreed with some of them, I disagreed with others, and in general felt like they were a little too high-level to be of real use.

2010 TechEd PreCon: Multiparadigmatic C#

I'm excited to say that TechEd has accepted my pre-conference proposal, Multiparadigmatic C#, where the abstract reads: C# has grown from “just” an object-oriented language into a language that is capable of expressing several different paradigms of software development: object-oriented, functional, and dynamic. In this session, developers will learn how to approach programming in C# to use each of these approaches, and when. If you're interested in seeing C# used in a variety of different ways, come on out.

Interested in F#?

But too impatient to read a whole book on it? Try the 6-panel RefCard that Chance Coble and I put together for DZone. Free download. Or, for the more patient type, wait for the books that Chance and I (Professional F#) are each writing; they're remarkably complementary, at least from what Chance has told me about his. Which reminds me.... if you've not already noticed, Pro F# is now up in Amazon.

2010 Predictions, 2009 Predictions Revisited

Here we go again—another year, another set of predictions revisited and offered up for the next 12 months. And maybe, if I'm feeling really ambitious, I'll take that shot I thought about last year and try predicting for the decade. Without further ado, I'll go back and revisit, unedited, my predictions for 2009 ("THEN"), and pontificate on those subjects for 2010 before adding any new material/topics. Just for convenience, here's a link back to last years' predictions.

A New Kind of Service

Why study new and different programming languages? To change your programming mindset. Not sure what I mean by that? Check this out. Ever done one of these? 1: public interface IService 2: { 3: DateTime GetDate(); 4: int CalculateSomethingInteresting(int lhs, int rhs); 5: } 6:  7: public class OneServiceImpl : IService 8: { 9: public DateTime GetDate() 10: { return DateTime.Now; } 11: public int CalculateSomethingInteresting(int lhs, int rhs) 12: { return lhs + rhs; } 13: } 14:  15: public class AnotherServiceImpl : IService 16: { 17: public DateTime GetDate() 18: { return new DateTime(); } 19: public int CalculateSomethingInteresting(int lhs, int rhs) 20: { return lhs * rhs; } 21: } 22:  23: public class ServiceFactory 24: { 25: public static IService GetInstance(string which) 26: { 27: if (which == "One") return new OneServiceImpl(); 28: else if (which == "Another") return new AnotherServiceImpl(); 29: else throw new ArgumentException(); 30: } 31: } 32:  33: public class App 34: { 35: public static void Main(string[] args) 36: { 37: foreach (string s in args) 38: { 39: IService serv = ServiceFactory.GetInstance(s); 40: Console.WriteLine("serv calc = {0}", serv.CalculateSomethingInteresting(3, 3)); 41: } 42: } 43: } So has my client this week.

Thoughts from the (Java)Edge 2009

These are the things I think as I sit here in my resort hotel on the edge of the Dead Sea in Israel after the JavaEdge 2009 conference on Thursday: The JavaEdge hosts (Alpha CSP) are, without a doubt, the most gracious hosts I think I've ever had at a conference. And considering the wonderful treatment I've had at the hands of the 4Developers and JDD hosts in Krakow (Proidea) and the SDN hosts in Amsterdam, this is saying a lot.

Book Review: Debug It! (Paul Butcher, Pragmatic Bookshelf)

Paul asked me to review this, his first book, and my comment to him was that he had a pretty high bar to match; being of the same "series" as Release It!, Mike Nygard's take on building software ready for production (and, in my repeatedly stated opinion, the most important-to-read book of the decade), Debug It! had some pretty impressive shoes to fill. Paul's comment was pretty predictable: "Thanks for keeping the pressure to a minimum." My copy arrived in the mail while I was at the NFJS show in Denver this past weekend, and with a certain amount of dread and excitement, I opened the envelope and sat down to read for a few minutes.

Closures are back again!

Those of you who've seen me speak on Java 7 at various conferences have heard me lament (in a small way) the fact that Sun decided last year (Dec 2008) to forgo the idea of including closures in the Java language. Imagine my surprise, then, to check my Twitter feed and discover that, to everyone's surprise, closures are back in as a consideration for the Java7 release. Several thoughts come to mind: "WTF?!?!?

Haacked, but not content; agile still treats the disease

Phil Haack wrote a thoughtful, insightful and absolutely correct response to my earlier blog post. But he's still missing the point. The short version: Phil's right when he says, "Agile is less about managing the complexity of an application itself and more about managing the complexity of building an application." Agile is by far the best approach to take when building complex software. But that's not where I'm going with this.

"Agile is treating the symptoms, not the disease"

The above quote was tossed off by Billy Hollis at the patterns&practices Summit this week in Redmond. I passed the quote out to the Twitter masses, along with my +1, and predictably, the comments started coming in shortly thereafter. Rather than limit the thoughts to the 120 or so characters that Twitter limits us to, I thought this subject deserved some greater expansion. But before I do, let me try (badly) to paraphrase the lightning talk that Billy gave here, which sets context for the discussion: Keeping track of all the stuff Microsoft is releasing is hard work: LINQ, EF, Silverlight, ASP.NET MVC, Enterprise Library, Azure, Prism, Sparkle, MEF, WCF, WF, WPF, InfoCard, CardSpace, the list goes on and on, and frankly, nobody (and I mean nobody) can track it all.

Are you a language wonk? Do you want to be?

Recently I've had the pleasure to make the acquaintance of Walter Bright, one of the heavyweights of compiler construction, and the creator of the D language (among other things), and he's been great in giving me some hand-holding on some compiler-related topics and ideas. Thus, it seems appropriate to point out that Walter's willing to give lots of other people the same kind of attention and focus, in exchange for your presence in gorgeous Astoria, OR.

Thoughts on the Chrome OS announcement

Google made the announcement on Tuesday: Chrome OS, a "open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks." Huh? I'm sorry, but from a number of perspectives, this move makes no sense to me. Don't get me wrong—on a number of levels, the operating system needs a little shaking up. Windows7 looks good, granted, Mac OS is a strong contender, and both are clearly popular with the consuming public, but innovation in the operating system seems pretty limited right now, to eye candy graphical window-opening/window-closing effects, different window decorations (title bars and minimize/maximize buttons), and areas along the edges of the screen to store icons.

Review: "Iron Python in Action" by Michael Foord and Christian Muirhead

OK, OK, I admit it. Maybe significant whitespace isn't all bad. (But don't let me ever catch you quoting me say that.) The reason for my (maybe) shift in thinking? Manning Publications sent me a copy of Iron Python in Action, and I have to say, I like the book and its approach. Getting me to like Python as a primary language for development will probably take more than just one book can give, but...

Review: "Programming Clojure", by Stu Halloway

(Disclaimer: In the spirit of full disclosure, Stu is a friend, fellow NFJS speaker, and former co-worker of mine from DevelopMentor.) I present this review to you in two parts. Short version: If you want to learn Clojure, and you’re familiar with at least one programming language, you’ll find this a great resource. If you don’t already know a programming language, or if you already know Clojure, or if you’re looking for "best practices" to cut-and-paste, you’re going to be disappointed.


The "controversy" continues

Apparently the Rails community isn't the only one pursuing that ephemeral goal of "edginess"—another blatantly sexist presentation came off without a hitch, this time at a Flash conference, and if anything, it was worse than the Rails/CouchDB presentation. I excerpt a few choice tidbits from an eyewitness here, but be warned—if you're not comfortable with language, skip the next block paragraph. Yesterday's afternoon keynote is this guy named Hoss Gifford — I believe his major claim to fame is that viral "spank the monkey" thing that went around a few years back.  Highlights of his talk: He opens his keynote with one of those "Ignite"-esque presentations — where you have 5-minutes and 20 slides to tell a story — and the first and last are a close-up of a woman's lower half, her legs spread (wearing stilettos, of course) and her shaved vagina visible through some see-thru panties that say "drink me," with Hoss's Photoshopped, upward-looking face placed below it.

A eulogy: DevelopMentor, RIP

Update: See below, but I wanted to include the text Mike Abercrombie (DM’s owner) posted as a comment to this post, in the body of the blog post itself. "Ted - All of us at DevelopMentor greatly appreciate your admiration. We’re also grateful for your contributions to DevelopMentor when you were part of our staff. However, all of us that work here, especially our technical staff that write and delivery our courses today, would appreciate it if you would check your sources before writing our eulogy.

SSCLI 2.0 Internals

Joel's weblog appears to be down, so in response to some emails I've posted my draft copy of SSCLI 2.0 Internals here. I think it's the same PDF that Joel had on his weblog, but I haven't made absolutely certain of the fact. :-/ If you've not checked out the first version of SSCLI Internals, it's cool—the second edition is basically everything that the first edition is, plus a new chapter on Generics (and how they changed the internals of the CLR to reflect generics all the way through the system), so you're good.

He was Aaron Erickson... Now he's Aaron Erickson, ThoughtWorker

Yep, you heard that right—Aaron Erickson, author of The Nomadic Developer, is now a ThoughtWorker. For those of who you don't know Aaron, he's been a consultant at another consulting company for a while, and has been exploring a number of different topics in the .NET space for a few years now, not least of which is one of my favorites (F#) and one of THoughtWorks' favorites (agile). He's been speaking at a number of events, including the Connections conferences, and he's going to bring some serious market-development potential to our Chicago office, something that's obviously of concern right now in these current economic conditions.

TechEd 2009 Thoughts

These are the things I think as I wing my way out of LA fresh from this year's TechEd 2009 conference: I think I owe the attendees at DTL309 ("Busy .NET Developer's Guide to F#") an explanation. It's always embarrassing when your brain freezes during a presentation, and that's precisely what happened during the F# talk—I completely spaced on the syntax for implementing an interface on a class in F#. (To the attendees who commented "consider preparing a bit better so you dont forget the sintax :)" and "Not remembering the language syntax sorta comes across bad doesn't it?", you're absolutely right, which prompts this next sentence.) I apologize profusely to those who were there—I just blew it.

"From each, according to its abilities...."

Recently, NFJS alum and buddy Dion Almaer questioned the widespread, almost default, usage of a relational database for all things storage related: Ian Hickson: “I expect I’ll be reverse-engineering SQLite and speccing that, if nothing better is picked first. As it is, people are starting to use the database feature in actual Web apps (e.g. mobile GMail, iirc).” When I read that comment to Vlad’s post on HTML 5 Web Storage I gulped.

"Multi-core Mania": A Rebuttal

The Simple-Talk newsletter is a monthly e-zine that the folks over at Red Gate Software (makers of some pretty cool toys, including their ANTS Profiler, and recent inheritors of the Reflector utility legacy) produce, usually to good effect. But this month carried with it an interesting editorial piece, which I reproduce in its entirety here: When the market is slack, nothing succeeds better at tightening it up than promoting serial group-panic within the community.

Laziness in Scala

While playing around with a recent research-oriented project for myself (more on that later), I discovered something that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere in the Scala universe before. (OK, not really--as you'll see towards the end of this piece, it really is documented, but allow me my brief delusions of grandeur as I write this. They'll get deflated quickly enough.) So the core of the thing was a stack-oriented execution engine; essentially I'm processing commands delivered in a postfix manner.

A new stack: JOSH

An interesting blog post was forwarded to me by another of my fellow ThoughtWorkers, which suggests a new software stack for building an enterprise system, acronymized as “JOSH”: The Book Of JOSH Through a marvelous, even devious, set of circumstances, I'm presented with the opportunity to address my little problem without proscribed constraints, a true green field opportunity. Json OSGi Scala HTTP Json delivers on what XML promised. Simple to understand, effective data markup accessible and usable by human and computer alike.

From the Mailbag: Polyglot Programmer vs. Polyactivist Language

This crossed my Inbox: I read your article entitled: The Polyglot Programmer. How about the thought that rather than becoming a polyglot-software engineer; pick a polyglot-language. For example, C# is borrowing techniques from functional and dynamic languages. Let the compiler designer worry about mixing features and software engineers worry about keep up with the mixture. Is this a good approach? [From Phil, at http://greensoftwareengineer.spaces.live.com/] Phil, it’s an interesting thought you’ve raised—which is the better/easier approach to take, that of incorporating the language features we want into a single language, rather than needing to learn all those different languages (and their own unique syntaxes) in order to take advantage of those features we want?

SDWest, SDBestPractices, SDArch&Design: RIP, 1975 - 2009

This email crossed my Inbox last week while I was on the road: Due to the current economic situation, TechWeb has made the difficult decision to discontinue the Software Development events, including SD West, SD Best Practices and Architecture & Design World. We are grateful for your support during SD's twenty-four year history and are disappointed to see the events end. This really bums me out, because the SD shows were some of the best shows I’ve been to, particularly SD West, which always had a great cross-cutting collection of experts from all across the industry’s big technical areas: C++, Java, .NET, security, agile, and more.

Woo-hoo! Speaking at DSL DevCon 2009!

Just got this email from Chris Sells: For twelve 45-minute slots at this year’s DSL DevCon (April 16-17 in Redmond, WA), we had 49 proposals. You have been selected as speakers for the following talks. Please confirm that you’ll be there for both days so that I can put together the schedule and post it on the conference site. This DevCon should rock. Thanks! Martin Fowler - Keynote Paul Vick + Gio - Mgrammar Deep Dive Tom Rodgers - Domain Specific Languages for automated testing of equity order management systems and trading machines Paul Cowan - DSLs in the Horn Package Manager Guillaume Laforge - How to implement DSLs with Groovy Markus Voelter - Eclipse tooling for Model-Driven stuff Dionysios G.



Nice little montage from JDD08

Last year I had the opportunity to return to the land of my roots, Poland, and speak at Java Developer Days (JDD). Just today, the organizers from JDD sent me a link with a nice little photo montage from the conference. (I did notice a few photos from the after-party were selectively left out of the montage, however, which is probably a good thing because that was the first time I'd ever met a Polish Mad Dog, and boy did they all go down easy...) If you're anywhere in the area around Krakow in March, you definitely should swing by for their follow-up conference, 4Developers--it sounds like it's going to be another fun event, and this time it's going to reach out to more than just the Java folks, but also the .NET crowd (and a few others), as well.

Building WCF services with F#, Interlude

Because I’m about to start my third part in the WCF/F# series, I realized that I’ve now hit the “rule of three” mark: in this particular case, this will mark the third project I’m creating that unifies WCF and F#, and frankly, it’s a pain in the *ss to do it all by hand each time: create an F# Library, add the System.ServiceModel and System.Runtime.Serialization assemblies, go create an App.config file and add it to the project as an Existing Item….

Building WCF services with F#, Part 2

If you’ve not read the first part in the series, take a look there first. While it’s always easier to build WCF services with nothing but primitive types understood by all the platforms to which you’re communicating (be it Java through XML services or other .NET systems via WCF’s more efficient binding types), this gets old and limiting very quickly. The WCF service author will want to develop whole composite types that can be exchanged across the wire, and this is most often done via the DataContract attribute applied to the types that will be exchanged.

Seattle/Redmond/Bellevue Nerd Dinner

From Scott Hanselman's blog: Are you in King County/Seattle/Redmond/Bellevue Washington and surrounding areas? Are you a huge nerd? Perhaps a geek? No? Maybe a dork, dweeb or wonk. Maybe you're in town for an SDR (Software Design Review) visiting BillG. Quite possibly you're just a normal person. Regardless, why not join us for some Mall Food at the Crossroads Bellevue Mall Food Court on Monday, January 19th around 6:30pm? ... NOTE: RSVP by leaving a comment here and show up on January 19th at 6:30pm!

Building WCF services with F#, Part 1

For a while now, I’ve held the opinion that the “sweet spot” for functional languages on the JVM and CLR will be in the services space, since services and functions seem pretty similar to one another in spirit—a given input produces a given output, with (ideally) no shared state, high concurrency expectations, idempotent processing, and so on. This isn’t to say that a functional language is going to make a non-trivial service trivial, but I think it will make it simpler and more likely to scale better over time, particularly as the service gets more complicated.

DSLs: Ready for Prime-Time?

Chris Sells, an acquaintance (and perhaps friend, when he's not picking on me for my Java leanings) of mine from my DevelopMentor days, has a habit of putting on a "DevCon" whenever a technology seems to have reached a certain maturity level. He did it with XML a few years ago, and ATL before that, both of which were pretty amazing events, filled with the sharpest guys in the subject, gathered into a single room to share ideas and shoot each others' pet theories full of holes.

First Thoughts on VS2008-on-Windows7

This is more a continuation of my earlier Windows7 post, but I've installed the new Windows7 beta into a VMWare Fusion VM with zero difficulties, and I just finished putting VS2008 (and the SP1 patch) on it, then the latest F# CTP on top of that, and so far it all looks pretty smooth. Put in the DDK and the SDK, and I've got a nice Windows7 development image to play with.

"Pragmatic Architecture", in book form

For a couple of years now, I've been going around the world and giving a talk entitled "Pragmatic Architecture", talking both about what architecture is (and what architects really do), and ending the talk with my own "catalog" of architectural elements and ideas, in an attempt to take some of the mystery and "cloud" nature of architecture out of the discussion. If you've read Effective Enterprise Java, then you've read the first version of that discussion, where Pragmatic Architecture was a second-generation thought process.

2009 Predictions, 2008 Predictions Revisited

It's once again that time of year, and in keeping with my tradition, I'll revisit the 2008 predictions to see how close I came before I start waxing prophetic on the coming year. (I'm thinking that maybe the next year--2010's edition--I should actually take a shot at predicting the next decade, but I'm not sure if I'd remember to go back and revisit it in 2020 to see how I did.

The Myth of Discovery

It amazes me how insular and inward-facing the software industry is. And how the "agile" movement is reaping the benefits of a very simple characteristic. For example, consider Jeff Palermo's essay on "The Myth of Self-Organizing Teams". Now, nothing against Jeff, or his post, per se, but it amazes me how our industry believes that they are somehow inventing new concepts, such as, in this case the "self-organizing team". Team dynamics have been a subject of study for decades, and anyone with a background in psychology, business, or sales has probably already been through much of the material on it.

Dustin Campbell on the Future of VB in VS2010

Dustin Campbell, a self-professed "IDE guy", is speaking at the .NET Developer's Association of Redmond this evening, on the future of Visual Basic in Visual Studio 2010, and I feel compelled, based on my earlier "dissing" of VB in my thoughts of PDC post, to give VB a little love here. First of all, he notes publicly that the VB and C# teams have been brought together under one roof, organizationally, so that the two languages can evolve in parallel to one another.

Explorations into "M"

Having freshly converted both the Visual Studio 2010 and Oslo SDK VPC images that we received at PDC 2008 last month to VMWare images, I figure it's time to dive into M. At PDC, the Addison-Wesley folks were giving away copies of "The 'Oslo' Modeling Language" book, which is apparently official canon of the "M" language for Oslo, so I flip to page 1 and start reading: The "Oslo" Modeling Language (M) is a modern, declarative language for working with data.

REST != HTTP

Roy Fielding has weighed in on the recent "buzzwordiness" (hey, if Colbert can make up "truthiness", then I can make up "buzzwordiness") of calling everything a "REST API", a tactic that has become more en vogue of late as vendors discover that the general programming population is finding the WSDL-based XML services stack too complex to navigate successfully for all but the simplest of projects. Contrary to what many RESTafarians may be hoping, Roy doesn't gather all these wayward children to his breast and praise their anti-vendor/anti-corporate/anti-proprietary efforts, but instead, blasts them pretty seriously for mangling his term: I am getting frustrated by the number of people calling any HTTP-based interface a REST API.

Winter Travels: Øredev, DevTeach, DeVoxx

Recently, a blog reader asked me if I wasn't doing any speaking any more since I'd joined ThoughtWorks, and that's when I realized I'd been bad about updating my speaking calendar on the website. Sorry, all; no, ThoughtWorks didn't pull my conference visa or anything, I've just been bad about keeping it up to date. I'll fix that ASAP, but in the meantime, three events that I'll be at in the coming wintry months include: Øredev 2008: 19 - 21 November, Malmoe, Sweden Øredev will be a first for me, and I've ben invited to give a keynote there, along with a few technical sessions.

More PDC 2008 bits exploration: VisualStudio_2010

Having created a Window7 VMWare image (which I then later cloned and installed the Windows7 SDK into, successfully, wahoo!), I turned to the Visual Studio 2010 bits they provided on the hard drive. Not surprisingly, though a bit frustratingly, they didn't give us an install image that I could put into a VMWare image of my own creation, but instead gave us a VPC with everything pre-installed in it. I know that Microsoft prefers to promote its own products, and that it's probably a bit much to ask them to provide both a VMWare image and a VirtualPC image for these kind of pre-alpha things, but it's a bit of a pain considering that Virtual PC doesn't run anymore on the Mac, that I'm aware of.

Thoughts of a PDC (2008) Gone By...

PDC 2008 in LA is over now, and like most PDCs, it definitely didn't disappoint on the technical front--Microsoft tossed out a whole slew of new technologies, ideas, releases, and prototypes, all with the eye towards getting bits (in this case, a Western Digital 160 GB USB hard drive) out to the developer community and getting back feedback, either through the usual channels or, more recently, the blogosphere. These are the things I think I think about this past PDC: Windows 7 will be an interesting thing to watch--they handed out DVDs in both 32- and 64-bit versions, and it's somewhat reminiscent of the Longhorn DVDs of the last PDC.

Apparently I'm #25 on the Top 100 Blogs for Development Managers

The full list is here. It's a pretty prestigious group--and I'm totally floored that I'm there next to some pretty big names. In homage to Ms. Sally Fields, of so many years ago... "You like me, you really like me". Having somebody come up to me at a conference and tell me how much they like my blog is second on my list of "fun things to happen to me at a conference", right behind having somebody come up to me at a conference and tell me how much they like my blog, except for that one entry, where I said something totally ridiculous (and here's why) ....

Rotor v2 book draft available

As Joel points out, we've made a draft of the SSCLI 2.0 Internals book available for download (via his blog). Rather than tell you all about the book, which Joel summarizes quite well, instead I thought I'd tell you about the process by which the book came to be. Editor's note: if you have no interest in the process by which a book can get done, skip the rest of this blog entry.

An Announcement

For those of you who were at the Cinncinnati NFJS show, please continue on to the next blog entry in your reader--you've already heard this. For those of you who weren't, then allow me to make the announcement: Hi. My name's Ted Neward, and I am now a ThoughtWorker. After four months of discussions, interviews, more discussions and more interviews, I can finally say that ThoughtWorks and I have come to a meeting of the minds, and starting 3 September I will be a Principal Consultant at ThoughtWorks.

The Never-Ending Debate of Specialist v. Generalist

Another DZone newsletter crosses my Inbox, and again I feel compelled to comment. Not so much in the uber-aggressive style of my previous attempt, since I find myself more on the fence on this one, but because I think it's a worthwhile debate and worth calling out. The article in question is "5 Reasons Why You Don't Want A Jack-of-all-Trades Developer", by Rebecca Murphey. In it, she talks about the all-too-common want-ad description that appears on job sites and mailing lists: I've spent the last couple of weeks trolling Craigslist and have been shocked at the number of ads I've found that seem to be looking for an entire engineering team rolled up into a single person.

From the "Gosh, You Wanted Me to Quote You?" Department...

This comment deserves response: First of all, if you're quoting my post, blocking out my name, and attacking me behind my back by calling me "our intrepid troll", you could have shown the decency of linking back to my original post. Here it is, for those interested in the real discussion: http://www.agilesoftwaredevelopment.com/blog/jurgenappelo/professionalism-knowledge-first Well, frankly, I didn't get your post from your blog, I got it from an email 'zine (as indicated by the comment "This crossed my Inbox..."), and I didn't really think that anybody would have any difficulty tracking down where it came from, at least in terms of the email blast that put it into my Inbox.

From the "You Must Be Trolling for Hits" Department...

Recently this little gem crossed my Inbox.... Professionalism = Knowledge First, Experience Last By J----- A----- Do you trust a doctor with diagnosing your mental problems if the doctor tells you he's got 20 years of experience? Do you still trust that doctor when he picks up his tools, and asks you to prepare for a lobotomy? Would you still be impressed if the doctor had 20 years of experience in carrying out lobotomies?

Blog change? Ads? What gives?

If you've peeked at my blog site in the last twenty minutes or so, you've probably noticed some churn in the template in the upper-left corner; by now, it's been finalized, and it reads "JOB REFERRALS". WTHeck? Has Ted finally sold out? Sort of, not really. At least, I don't think so. Here's the deal: the company behind those ads, Entice Labs, contacted me to see if I was interested in hosting some job ads on my blog, given that I seem to generate a moderate amount of traffic.

Polyglot Plurality

The Pragmatic Programmer says, "Learn a new language every year". This is great advice, not just because it puts new tools into your mental toolbox that you can pull out on various occasions to get a job done, but also because it opens your mind to new ideas and new concepts that will filter their way into your code even without explicit language support. For example, suppose you've looked at (J/Iron)Ruby or Groovy, and come to like the "internal iterator" approach as a way of simplifying moving across a collection of objects in a uniform way; for political and cultural reasons, though, you can't write code in anything but Java.

Let the Great Language Wars commence....

As Amanda notes, I’m riding with 46 other folks (and lots of beer) on a bus from Michigan to devLink in Tennessee, as part of sponsoring the show. (I think she got my language preferences just a teensy bit mixed up, though.) Which brings up a related point, actually: Amanda (of “the great F# T-shirt” fame from TechEd this year) and I are teaming up to do F# In A Nutshell for O’Reilly.

Best Java Resources: A Call

I've been asked to put together a list of the "best" Java resources that every up-and-coming Java developer should have, and I'd like this list to be as comprehensive as possible and, more importantly, reflect more than just my own opinion. So, either through comments or through email, let me know what you think the best Java resources are in the following categories: Websites and developer Web portals Weblogs/RSS feeds. (Not all have to be hand-authored blogs--if you find an RSS feed for news on java.net projects, for example, that would count as well.) Java packages and/or libaries.

Guide you, the Force should

Steve Yegge posted the transcript from a talk on dynamic languages that he gave at Stanford. Cedric Beust posted a response to Steve's talk, espousing statically-typed languages. Numerous comments and flamewars erupted, not to mention a Star Wars analogy (which always makes things more fun). This is my feeble attempt to play galactic peacemaker. Or at least galactic color commentary and play-by-play. I have no doubts about its efficacy, and that it will only fan the flames, for that's how these things work.

l33t and prior art

“OMG, my BFF is so l33t.” “ROFLOL.” There’s a generation that looks at the above and rolls their eyes at this, but as it turns out, this is hardly new; in fact, according to Rick Beyer, author of The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told, we get the phrase “OK” from exactly the same process: People all over the world know what “O.K.” means. But few of them realize it was born fro a wordplay craze and a presidential election.

Blogs I'm currently reading

Recently, a former student asked me, I was in a .NET web services training class that you gave probably 4 or so years ago on-site at a [company name] office in [city], north of Atlanta.  At that time I asked you for a list of the technical blogs that you read, and I am curious which blogs you are reading now.  I am now with a small company where I have to be a jack of all trades, in the last year I have worked in C++ and Perl backend type projects and web frontend projects with Java, C#, and RoR, so I find your perspective interesting since you also work with various technologies and aren't a zealot for a specific one.

I'm Pro-Choice... Pro Programmer Choice, that is

Not too long ago, Don wrote: The three most “personal” choices a developer makes are language, tool, and OS. No. That may be true for somebody who works for a large commercial or open source vendor, whose team is building something that fits into one of those three categories and wants to see that language/tool/OS succeed. That is not where most of us live. If you do, certainly, you are welcome to your opinion, but please accept with good grace that your agenda is not the same as my own.

Thinking in Language

A couple of folks have taken me to task over some of the things I said... or didn't say... in my last blog piece. So, in no particular order, let's discuss. A few commented on how I left out commentary on language X, Y or Z. That wasn't an accidental slip or surge of forgetfulness, but I didn't want to rattle off a laundry list of every language I've run across or am exploring, since that list would be much, much longer and arguably of little to no additional benefit.

Yet Another Muddled Message

This just recently crossed my Inbox, this time from Redmond Developer News, and once again I'm simply amazed at the audacity of the message and rather far-fetched conclusion: FEEDBACK: THE MOVE FROM J2EE On Tuesday, I wrote about BMC's new Application Problem Resolution System 7.0 tooling, which provides "black box" monitoring and analysis of application behavior to help improve troubleshooting. http://reddevnews.com/blogs/weblog.aspx?blog=2146 In talking to BMC Director Ran Gishri, I ran across some interesting perspectives that he was able to offer on the enterprise development space.

Groovy or JRuby?

Recently, it has become the fad to weigh in on the Groovy vs JRuby debate, usually along the lines of "Which is X?", where X is one of "better", "faster", "more powerful", "more acceptable", "easier", and so on. (Everybody seems to have their own adjective/adverb to slide in there, so I won't even begin to try to list them all.) Rick Hightower, in a blog post from January, weighs in on this and comes down harshly on both Scala and JRuby.

Do you fall prey to technical folk etymology?

From Wikipedia (itself a source of conceptual folk etymology, but that's another rant): A commonly held misunderstanding of the origin of a particular word, a false etymology "The popular perversion of the form of words in order to render it apparently significant"; "the process by which a word or phrase, usually one of seemingly opaque formation, is arbitrarily reshaped so as to yield a form which is considered to be more transparent" What do I mean by "technical folk etymology"?

JRuby 1.1 released

From the "Where the hell was I that day?" Department.... The JRuby community is pleased to announce the release of JRuby 1.1! Homepage: http://www.jruby.org/ Download: http://dist.codehaus.org/jruby/ JRuby 1.1 is the second major release for our project.  The main goal for 1.1 has been improving performance.  We have made great strides in performance during the last nine months.  There have been more and more reports of applications exceeding Ruby 1.8.6 performance; we are even beating Ruby 1.9 in some microbenchmarks.

Is "Performance" Subjective or Objective in nature?

(Editor's note: This post is likely to open a huge can of whoop-*ss on this blog, so unless you want to get caught up in the huge bar fight that's about to break out, you're advised to take your whiskey or beer and head outside for a smoke until the cops come.) As a fellow Scala writer, I've been following Daniel Spiewak's blog with no small amount of interest, as he discovers little tidbits inside the Scala language (like the Option type).


MSDN "F# Primer" Article Feedback

Since the publication of the F# article in the MSDN Launch magazine, I've gotten some feedback from readers (for which I heartily thank you all, by the way), but in particular I've gotten two emails from "tms" that I thought deserved more widespread notice and commentary. I'm happy to give full credit to "tms" for his comments, but thus far I haven't heard back from him saying it was OK to do so; that said, his points are valid, and I think important for the rest of the world to hear, so I'm posting this under a pseudonym until he gives permission to offer up his real name.

The torrent has begun...

Not the BitTorrent of some particular movie or game, but the torrent of changes to the JDK that were held up pending a final blessing on the OpenJDK Mercurial transition. How do I, a non-Sun employee know this? Because I'm subscribed to the build-dev mailing list (which seems to be getting the Mercurial changeset notification emails), and on Wednesday (March 26th), one such email contained 72 new changesets, ranging from extensions to the query API for JMX 2.0: 6602310: Extensions to Query API for JMX 2.0 6604768: IN queries require their arguments to be constants Summary: New JMX query language and support for dotted attributes in queries.

Rules for Review

Apparently, I'm drawing enough of an audience through this blog that various folks have started to send me press releases and notifications and requests for... well, I dunno exactly, but I'm assuming some blogging love of some kind. I'm always a little leery about that particular subject, because it always has this dangerous potential to turn the blog into a less-credible marketing device, but people at conferences have suggested that they really are interested in what I think about various products and tools, so perhaps it's time to amend my stance on this.

Lang.NET 2008 videos back online

For those who were skimming my blog looking for the notification that the Lang.NET 2008 Symposium videos were back online, look no further.

Reminder

A couple of people have asked me over the last few weeks, so it's probably worth saying out loud: No, I don't work for a large company, so yes, I'm available for consulting and research projects. If you've got one of those burning questions like, "How would our company/project/department/whatever make use of JRuby-and-Rails, and what would the impact to the rest of the system be", or "Could using F# help us write applications faster", or "How would we best integrate Groovy into our application", or "How does the new Adobe Flex/AIR move help us build richer client apps", or "How do we improve the performance of our Java/.NET app", or other questions along those lines, drop me a line and let's talk.

Eclipse gets some help... building Windows apps... from Microsoft?

This delicious little tidbit just crossed my desk, and for those of you too scared to click the link, check this out: Microsoft will begin collaborating with the Eclipse Foundation to improve native Windows application development on Java. Sam Ramji, the director of Microsoft's open-source software lab, announced at the EclipseCon conference in Santa Clara, Calif., on Wednesday that the lab will work with Eclipse . The goal of the joint work, which will include contributions from Microsoft engineers, is to make it easier to use Java to write applications that take full advantage of the look and feel of Windows Vista.

Mort means productivity

Recently, a number of folks in the Java space have taken to openly ridiculing Microsoft's use of the "Mort" persona, latching on to the idea that Mort is somehow equivalent to "Visual Basic programmer", which is itself somehow equivalent to "stupid idiot programmer who doesn't understand what's going on and just clicks through the wizards". This would be a mischaracterization, one which I think Nikhilik's definition helps to clear up: Mort, the opportunistic developer, likes to create quick-working solutions for immediate problems and focuses on productivity and learn as needed.

Apropos of nothing: Job trends

While tracking some of the links relating to the Groovy/Ruby war, I found this website, which purportedly tracks job trends based on a whole mess of different job sites. So, naturally, I had to plug in to get a graph of C#, C++, Java, Ruby, and VB: java, c#, c++, ruby, visual basic Job Trends java jobs - c# jobs - c++ jobs - ruby jobs - visual basic jobs Interesting.

Some interesting tidbits about LLVM

LLVM definitely does some interesting things as part of its toolchain. Consider the humble HelloWorld: 1: #include <stdio.h> 2:  3: int main() { 4: printf("hello world\n"); 5: return 0; 6: } Assuming you have a functioning llvm and llvm-gcc working on your system, you can compile it into LLVM bitcode. This bitcode is directly executable using the lli.exe from llvm: $ lli < hello.bc hello world Meh. Not so interesting. Let's look at the LLVM bitcode for the code, though--that's interesting as a first peek at what LLVM bitcode might look like: 1: ; ModuleID = '<stdin>' 2: target datalayout = "e-p:32:32:32-i1:8:8-i8:8:8-i16:16:16-i32:32:32-i64:32:64-f32:32:32-f64:32:64-v64:64:64-v128:128:128-a0:0:64" 3: target triple = "mingw32" 4: @.str = internal constant [12 x i8] c"hello world\00" ; <[12 x i8]*> [#uses=1] 5:  6: define i32 @main() { 7: entry: 8: %tmp2 = tail call i32 @puts( i8* getelementptr ([12 x i8]* @.str, i32 0, i32 0) ) ; <i32> [#uses=0] 9: ret i32 0 10: } 11:  12: declare i32 @puts(i8*) Hmm.

Quotables

Some quotes I've found to be thought-provoking over the last week or so: "Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress." "In a 5 year period we get one superb programming language. Only we can't control when the 5 year period will begin." "Every program has (at least) two purposes: the one for which it was written and another for which it wasn't." "If a listener nods his head when you're explaining your program, wake him up."

Building LLVM on Windows using MinGW32

As I've mentioned in passing, one of the things I'm playing with in my spare time (or will play with, now that I've got everything working, I think) is the LLVM toolchain. In essence, it looks to be a parallel to Microsoft's Phoenix, except that it's out, it's been in use in production environments (Apple is a major contributor to the project and uses it pretty extensively, it seems), and it supports not only C/C++ and Objective-C, but also Ada and Fortran.

URLs as first-class concepts in a language

While perusing the E Tutorial, I noticed something that was simple and powerful all at the same time: URLs as first-class concepts in the language. Or, if you will, URLs as a factory for creating objects. Check out this snippet of E: ? pragma.syntax("0.8") ? def poem := <http://www.erights.org/elang/intro/jabberwocky.txt> # value: <http://www.erights.org/elang/intro/jabberwocky.txt> ? <file:c:/jabbertest>.mkdirs(null); ? <file:c:/jabbertest/jabberwocky.txt>.setText(poem.getText()) Notice how the initialization of the "poem" variable is set to what looks like an HTTP URL?

More language features revisited

Since we're examining various aspects of the canonical O-O language (the three principals being C++, Java and C#/VB.NET), let's take in a review of another recent post, this time on the use of "new" in said languages. All of us have probably written code like this: Foo f = new Foo(); And what could be simpler?  As long as the logic in the constructor is simple (or better yet, the constructor is empty), it would seem that the simplest code is the best, so just use the constructor.  Certainly the MSDN documentation is rife with code that uses public constructors.  You can probably find plenty of public constructors used right here on my blog.  Why invest the effort in writing (and using) a factory class that will probably never do anything useful, other than call a public constructor?

Static considered harmful?

Gilad makes the case that static, that staple of C++, C#/VB.NET, and Java, does not belong: Most imperative languages have some notion of static variable. This is unfortunate, since static variables have many disadvantages. I have argued against static state for quite a few years (at least since the dawn of the millennium), and in Newspeak, I’m finally able to eradicate it entirely. I think Gilad conflates a few things, but he's also got some good points.

Who herds the cats?

Recently I've been looking more closely at the various (count them, four of them) proposals for adding new features into the Java language, the "BGGA", "FCM", "CICE" and "JCA" proposals. All of them are interesting and have their merits. A few other proposals for Java 7 have emerged as well, such as extension methods, enhancements to switch, the so-called "multi-catch" enhancement to exceptions, properties, better null support, and some syntax to support lists and maps natively.

Modular Toolchains

During the Lang.NET Symposium, a couple of things "clicked" all simultaneously, giving me one of those "Oh, I get it now" moments that just doesn't want to leave you alone. During the Intentional Software presentation, as the demo wound onwards I (and the rest of the small group gathered there) found myself looking at the same source code, but presented in a variety of new ways, some of which appealed to me as the programmer, others of which appealed to the mathematicians in the room, others of which appealed to the non-programmers in the room.

My Secret (?) Shame (Or, Building Parrot 0.5.2)

OK, after a week of getting the Internet equivalent of Bad Mojo being sent my way by every Perl developer on the planet, I have to admit something that may strike readers as inconsistent and incongruous. I want Parrot to work. I don't really care about Perl 6, per se. As I've said before, the language has a lot of linguistic inconsistencies and too many violations of the the Principle of Least Surprise to carry a lot of favor with me.

Diving into the Grails-vs-Rails wars (Or, Here we go again....)

Normally, I like to stay out of these kinds of wars, but this post by Stu (whom I deeply respect and consider a friend, though he may not reciprocate by the time I'm done here) just really irked me somewhere sensitive. I'm not entirely sure why, but something about it just... rubbed me the wrong way, I guess is the best way to say it. Let's dissect, shall we? Stu begins with the following two candidates: 1.

Highlights of the Lang.NET Symposium, Day Three (from memory)

My Mac froze when I tried to hook it up to the projector in the afternoon to do a 15-minute chat on Scala, thus losing the running blog entry in its entirety. Crap. This is my attempt to piece this overview together from memory--accordingly, details may suffer. Check the videos for verification when they come out. Of course, details were never my long suit anyway, so you probably want to do that for all of these posts, come to think of it...

Highlights of the Lang.NET Symposium Day Two

No snow last night, which means we avoid a repeat of the Redmond-wide shutdown of all facilities due to a half-inch of snow, and thus we avoid once again the scorn of cities all across the US for our wimpiness in the face of fluffy cold white stuff. Erik Meijer: It's obvious why Erik is doing his talk at 9AM, because the man has far more energy than any human being has a right to have at this hour of the morning.

Highlights of the Lang.NET Symposium, Day One

Thought I'd offer a highly-biased interpretation of the goings-on here at the Lang.NET Symposium. Quite an interesting crowd gathered here; I don't have a full attendee roster, but it includes Erik Meijer, Brian Goetz, Anders Hjelsberg, Jim Hugunin, John Lam, Miguel de Icaza, Charlie Nutter, John Rose, Gilad Braha, Paul Vick, Karl Prosser, Wayne Kelly, Jim Hogg, among a crowd in total of about 40. Great opportunities to do those wonderful hallway chats that seem to be the far more interesting part of conferences.

By the way, if anybody wants to argue about languages next week...

... or if you're a-hankering to kick my *ss over my sacreligious statements about Perl, I'll be at Building 20 on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, at the Language.NET Symposium with a few other guys who know something about language and VM implementation: Jim Hugunin, Gilad Bracha, Wayne Kelly, Charlie Nutter, John Rose, John Lam, Erik Meijer, Anders Hejlsberg.... I wish there were more "other VMs" representation showing up (some of the Parrot or Strongtalk or Squeak folks would offer up some great discussion points), but in the event they don't, it'll still be an interesting discussion.

Can Dynamic Languages Scale?

The recent "failure" of the Chandler PIM project generated the question, "Can Dynamic Languages Scale?" on TheServerSide, and, as is all too typical these days, it turned into a "You suck"/"No you suck" flamefest between a couple of posters to the site. I now make the perhaps vain attempt to address the question meaningfully. What do you mean by "scale"? There's an implicit problem with using the word "scale" here, in that we can think of a language scaling in one of two very orthogonal directions: Size of project, as in lines-of-code (LOC) Capacity handling, as in "it needs to scale to 100,000 requests per second" Part of the problem I think that appears on the TSS thread is that the posters never really clearly delineate the differences between these two.

Commentary Responses: 1/15/2008 Edition

A couple of people have left comments that definitely deserve response, so here we go: Glenn Vanderberg comments in response to the Larraysaywhut? post, and writes: Interesting post, Ted ... and for the most part I agree with your comments.  But I have to ask about this one: Actually, there are languages that do it even worse than COBOL. I remember one Pascal variant that required your keywords to be capitalized so that they would stand out.

Java: "Done" like the Patriots, or "Done" like the Dolphins?

English is a wonderful language, isn't it? I'm no linguist, but from what little study I've made of other languages (French and German, so far), English seems to have this huge propensity, more so than the other languages, to put multiple meanings behind the same word. Consider, for example, the word "done": it means "completed", as in "Are you finished with your homework? Yes, Dad, I'm done.", or it can mean "wiped out, exhausted, God-just-take-me-now-please", as in "Good God, another open-source Web framework?

Of Fibers and Continuations

Dave explains Ruby fibers, as they're called in Ruby 1.9. Now, before I get going here, let me explain my biases up front: in the Windows world, we've had fibers for near on to half-decade, I think, and they're basically programmer-managed cooperative tasks. In other words, they're much like threads before threads were managed by the operating system--you decide when to switch to a different fiber, you manage the scheduling, the fiber just gives you a data structure and some basic housekeeping.

Larraysaywhut?

Larry Wall, (in)famous creator of that (in)famous Perl language, has contributed a few cents' worth to the debate over "scripting" languages: I think, to most people, scripting is a lot like obscenity. I can't define it, but I'll know it when I see it. Aside from the fact that the original quote reads "pornography" instead of "obscenity", I get what he's talking about. Finding a good definition for scripting is like trying to find a good definition for "object-oriented" or "service-oriented" or...

And now, for something completely different...

My eight-year-old son, a few months ago, asked me what it is I do. I tried to explain to him that Daddy works as a consultant, teaching people how to build computer systems that help people do things. He thought about it a moment, then said, "So you build robots and stuff?" No, not exactly, I build software, which controls the computers. "So you program the robots to do things?" No, I build software like what runs Amazon or eBay.