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 Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The ultimate thin client

One of the things that I like about the idea of building a DSL is the idea of users being able to express, in fairly user-friendly terms, the actions they want to take. For example, Daniel Spiewak has a great example of a DSL built in Scala using Scala's parser combinators, and the resulting text, while certainly not English, is a very readable form. But in of itself, it seems it's been a hard sell to the general community, who look at GUIs as a far more intuitive way of doing things. (Note: I disagree with this; I don't think GUIs are more intuitive, I think GUIs are more self-explanatory, once you've learned a few basic principles, like moving the mouse, clicking the button, and recognizing which elements are clickable and which aren't.)

I think I've finally figured out where an English- (or other human spoken language) driven DSL can be far more powerful and intuitive than a GUI.

Voice. Or, specifically the world of telecommunication devices as a user interface device. Not as "putting-a-GUI-on-a-phone"; I think this is a red herring and ultimately unproductive line of research, iPhones notwithstanding. I mean, literally, talking to the computer.

Imagine a field repair agent, coming off of a repair call, calling back to the office to say the repair was done: "Ticket number 451123, status complete, note Mrs Johnson really needs to stop washing her clothes in the dishwasher." Hanging up, he moves on to the next ticket in the list.

Meanwhile, on the other end, voice-analysis software has done the basic job of transforming words into a line of text, which is fed to the DSL for processing.

Or, the field agent texts the message to a company account, which again passes it directly to the DSL for further processing.

I am firmly convinced that this style of user interface--one we use every day--is the way that mobile devices should interact with enterprise systems. Forget trying to do complex GUIs on a device, forget even trying to simplify down the complex GUI into a simple GUI--just use your voice and a well-understood shared protocol (the DSL itself).

It's the ultimate thin client.




Wednesday, June 25, 2008 2:48:19 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Twittering

Freshly Twittering

Username is tedneward

Come follow my thoughts




Tuesday, June 24, 2008 6:46:13 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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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. The goal is to have a Rough Cut ready (just the language parts) by the time F# goes CTP this summer or fall, so we're on an accelerated schedule. If you don't see much from me via the blog for a while, now you know why. :-) Once that's done, I'm going dark on a Scala book to follow--details to follow when that contract is nailed down.

Meanwhile.... As she suggests, the bus will likely be filled with lots of lively debate. The nice thing about having a technical debate with drunk geeks on a bus traveling down the highway at speed is that it's actually pretty easy to win the debate, if you really want to:

"You are such an idiot! Object-relashunal mappers are just... *burp* so cool! Why can't you see that?"

"Idiot, am I? I demand satisfaction! Step outside, sir!"

"Fine, you--" WHOOSH ... THUMP-THUMP....

"Next?"

I'm looking forward to this. :-)

Editor's note: (Contact Amanda if you're interested in participating on the devLink bus, not the book. Thanks for the interest, but we aren't soliciting co-authors. We think we have this one pretty well covered, but we're always interested in reviewers--for that, you can contact either of us.)


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Tuesday, June 24, 2008 8:56:39 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Gotta love virtualization

From the "This is a First" Department....

While sitting in the Northwest WorldClubs lounge on my way to TechEd2008, I discovered that Sun is discontinuing their Sun Developer Express program (which I find a bummer--I think they should have done the opposite, in fact, and ramped it up even further, creating a preconfigured/prestocked image with all the open-source tools they do, like OpenJDK and Postgres, ready to build/hack inside it) in favor of their OpenSolaris initiative. Officially, SXDE "goes away" in July, and the download links will automatically forward over to OpenSolaris.org.

OK, fine. Go visit that site.

Ugh, bummer: no prebuilt VMWare images anywhere on the site. That, to me, was the golden apogee of the SXDE program, because it meant that with a single download (granted, of 2GB in size) I could have a nearly-complete Java development environment up and running with almost no work on my part. Now I'm going to have to build an image of my own, and put all the tools (Sun Studio, NetBeans, various JDK images, whatever's not part of the OpenSolaris install) into a base image, and possibly do this over and over again as they release new OpenSolaris releases. Crud.

Whatever.

I download the ISO from the OpenSolaris site (kudos to Northwest for fat pipes in their lounge!), and it finishes just as it's time to walk (jog/brisk-walk might be more appropriate--I was cutting a tad bit close) to the gate. I hop on the flight, take my seat. Turns out, we have about ten or fifteen minutes before we're off the ground, so I pop open the MacBook Pro, flip over to VMWare Fusion, create a new VM, and being the operating system install. I just finish with some of the basics when it's time to go, so I close the lid, and once we hit 10,000 feet, I pop it back open again and let the thing whir away at the drive.

And that's when it hits me.

I'm doing an operating system install. On my laptop. In a virtual machine image. Using an ISO I downloaded while at the airport. And I'm writing this blog post as I do it.

I find that incredibly cool.

I don't know about you, but forget mashups and Web 2.0, I think virtualization stands out as the most important technical innovation of the decade.




Tuesday, June 3, 2008 9:56:53 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, June 1, 2008
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. (Either those within Java Standard Edition--a la Reflection or the Scripting API--or from Enterprise Edition--a la JMS--or even third-party packages, a la Spring.)
  • Conferences, even including those that I don't speak at. ;-)
  • Books.
  • Tools. (IDEs, build tools, static analysis tools, either commercial or open source.)
  • Future trends you think bear watching.

There is, of course, no prize to be won here, and I'd please ask the vendors (commercial or open source) who watch my blog to avoid outright advertisements in comments (though you are free to rattle off the various advantages of your product in an email to me), in order to avoid turning this weblog into a gigantic row of billboards along the freeway. I am interested in peoples' opinions, however, and more importantly, why you think X should be on that list, or even why Y shouldn't. Keep it civil, though, please--I'll delete any comments that get too vindictive or offensive. (That doesn't mean that you have to agree with me--just avoid calling anybody names. Basic 'Netiquette.)

Oh, and if you want to be mentioned in the article (which will be published on an international developer site), please indicate how you'd like to be accredited. Or not. Whatever you prefer.


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Sunday, June 1, 2008 8:18:03 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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