Ruby


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.


The Fallacies of Enterprise Computing

More than a decade ago, I published Effective Enterprise Java, and in the opening chapter I talked about the Ten Fallacies of Enterprise Computing, essentially an extension/add-on to Peter Deutsch’s Fallacies of Distributed Computing. But in the ten-plus years since, I’ve had time to think about it, and now I’m convinced that Enterprise Fallacies are a different list. Now, with the rise of cloud computing stepping in to complement, supplment or replace entirely the on-premise enterprise data center, it seemed reasonable to get back to it.


Developer Supply Chain Management

At first, it was called “DLL Hell”. Then “JAR Hell”. “Assembly Hell”. Now, it’s fallen under the label of “NPM-Gate”, but it always comes back to the same basic thing: software developers need to think about their software build and runtime dependencies as a form of Supply Chain Management. Failure to do so—on both the part of the supplier and the consumer—leads to the breakdown of civilization and everything we hold dear.


Abstract Factory

tl;dr Patterns, 20 Years Later: The Abstract Factory pattern is often “combined”, conceptually, together with Factory Method into a sort of uber-“Factory pattern”. The two are distinctly separate in the Gang-of-Four literature, however, and for some pretty good reason, as the intentions are different. Subtly so, in some ways, but still different.


Creational Patterns: 20 Years Later

tl;dr Creational patterns specifically deal with the creation of objects/entities in the code. They abstract the instantiation process (meaning that most of the time, they provide an abstraction layer above the use of the raw language facilities to construct an object). They help make a system independent of how its objects are created, composed, and represented.


Builder

tl;dr Patterns, 20 Years Later: The Builder pattern has enjoyed some success within the O-O community, particularly among the crowd that sees it as a way to build fluent APIs (APIs which read, more or less, like a natural language, a la English). Builder has a few tricks up its sleeve beyond just fluent APIs, however.


Pattern Implementations

Let’s talk a bit about the various pattern implementations, the languages in which they are being written, and what to “get” out of them.


Closure-Based State

tl;dr Patterns, 20 Years Later: With the prevalance of libraries and tools that can peer past access controls (such as Reflection on the JVM and CLR, or the Mirrors facility in Swift), trying to encapsulate private details away from prying eyes can be increasingly difficult. Other languages lack access controls entirely, or the concept of objects. In any of these languages that offer closures, we can hold state within a closure yet outside of the object, rendering it almost entirely inaccessible to outside parties.


Constructor Function

tl;dr Patterns, 20 Years Later: A Constructor Function is a function designed specifically to construct instances of entities (typically objects, although in languages which do not support objects as native types, this will typically be something that masquerades as an object). It is often seen as a variation on a Factory Method, though there is enough variation on the intent that it is worth calling this out as a standalone pattern.


Factory Method

tl;dr Patterns, 20 Years Later: Factory Method is a pattern that is often called by a simpler name hinging on the word “Factory”, a la “the Factory pattern” or somesuch. The GOF language actually has two patterns which each could qualify under that moniker, this one and the Abstract Factory, depending on the intent and the desired consequences.


Singleton

tl;dr Patterns, 20 Years Later: Let’s start with everybody’s favorite (and most despised) pattern, the Singleton. Everybody loves the Singleton because, conceptually, it seems the easiest of the lot to understand and (in most post-1995 languages) the easiest to implement. But everybody hates it because its singleton-y nature means it is a natural target for concurrency problems up the wazoo. (And then there’s that whole “Singleton instance vs static methods” debate that goes on.)


Reclaiming Design Patterns (20 Years Later)

tl;dr 20 years ago, the “Gang of Four” published the seminal work on design patterns. Written to the languages of its time (C++ and Smalltalk), and written using the design philosophies of the time (stressing inheritance, for example), it nevertheless spawned a huge “movement” within the industry. Which, as history has shown us, was already the hallmark of its doom—anything that has ever become a “movement” within this industry eventually disappoints and is burned at the public-relations stake when it fails to deliver on the overhyped promises that it never actually made. It’s time to go back, re-examine the 23 patterns (and, possibly, a few variants) with a fresh set of eyes, match them up against languages which have had 20 years to mature, and see what emerges. (Spoiler alert: all of the original 23 hold up pretty well, and there’s a lot of nuance that I think we missed the first time around.)


When Interviews Fail

tl;dr Peter Verhas asks a seemingly innocent question during a technical interview, and gets an answer that is not wrong, but doesn’t really fit. He then claims that “Sometimes I also meet candidates who not only simply do not know the answer but give the wrong answer. To know something wrong is worse than not knowing. Out of these very few even insists and tries to explain how I should have interpreted their answer. That is already a personality problem and definitely a no-go in an interview.” I claim that Peter is not only wrong, but that in addition to doing his company a complete disservice with this kind of interview, I personally would never want to work for a company that takes this attitude.


How do you learn?

tl;dr I’ve been asked a number of times over the years how, exactly, I approach learning new stuff, whether that be a new programming language, a new platform, whatever. This is obviously a highly personal (meaning specific to the individual offering the answer) subject, so my approach may or may not work for you; regardless, I’d suggest to anyone that they give it a shot and if it works, coolness.



DevOps-ing the Blog, Part 2

tl;dr For years, I’ve wanted to use social media to help draw attention to the blog entries I write. But manually posting to Twitter and LinkedIn about each blog entry was just too boring to contemplate. With this latest reboot, and the fact that I’m using a CI server to generate each post, I finally decided to break down and automate the process.


Functional Programming for the Uninitiated, using Java

tl;dr It’s been a few years since I did this particular routine for the NFJS shows, but I found a sequence of demos/explanations that really demonstrated clearly why Java (and other classic O-O) developers should learn a little functional programming style, even if they never pick up an actual functional language. And the key to that sequence of demos? “Collections are the gateway drug to functional programming.”


Technical Debt: A Definition

tl;dr A recent post on medium.com addresses the topic of technical debt; I had an intuitive disagreement with the thrust of the post, and wrote this as a way of clarifying my own thoughts on the matter. It raises some interesting questions about what technical debt actually is—and if we can’t define it, how can we possibly understand how to avoid it or remove it, as opposed to our current practice of using it as a “get-out-of-this-codebase-by-blowing-it-all-up” card?


DevOps-ing the blog

tl;dr With a static-site-generated blog, it was getting painful to do all the steps necessary to push a new post out the (virtual) door. So I did what any good DevOps-minded engineer would do—I put TeamCity on the job.


A Good TechBlog Read

tl;dr I’ve found a new blog that I’m enjoying reading so far, and thought readers might want to browser-bookmark for future consumption.


Speaking: 2016 (so far...)

The confirmations are starting to flow in, and I’m getting quite the nice lineup of shows to speak at for the new calendar year; the complete list is a bit long to list here (and it’ll change as the year progresses, to be sure), but so far I’ve got a nice mix of different kinds of shows: Voxxed Days: These are smaller, newer events in cities that are new to the Devoxx conference circuit.

Death to Technical Monoculture

It’s really starting to appear like the “technical monoculture” that so pervaded the 90’s and 00’s is finally starting to die the long-deserved ugly death it was supposed to. And I couldn’t be happier.


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.


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.

On Endings

A while back, I mentioned that I had co-founded a startup (LiveTheLook); I'm saddened to report that just after Halloween, my co-founder and I split up, and I'm no longer affiliated with the company except as an adviser and equity shareholder. There were a lot of reasons for the split, most notably that we had some different ideas on how to execute and how to spend the limited seed money we'd managed to acquire, but overall, we just weren't communicating well.

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.

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 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.

Say that part about HTML standards, again?

In incarnations past, I have had debates, public and otherwise, with friends and colleagues who have asserted that HTML5 (by which we really mean HTML5/JavaScript/CSS3) will essentially become the platform of choice for all applications going forward—that essentially, this time, standards will win out, and companies that try to subvert the open nature of the web by creating their own implementations with their own extensions and proprietary features that aren’t part of the standards, lose.

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....

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.

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....

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.

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.

Want Security? Get Quality

This CNET report tells us what we’ve probably known for a few years now: in the hacker/securist cyberwar, the hackers are winning. Or at the very least, making it pretty apparent that the cybersecurity companies aren’t making much headway. Notable quotes from the article: Art Coviello, executive chairman of RSA, at least had the presence of mind to be humble, acknowledging in his keynote that current "security models" are inadequate. Yet he couldn't help but lapse into rah-rah boosterism by the end of his speech.

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.

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 my first Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend came to Redmond this weekend, and as I write this it is all of three hours over. In the spirit of capturing post-mortem thoughts as quickly as possible, I thought I’d blog my reactions and thoughts from it, both as a reference for myself for the next one, and as a guide/warning/data point for others considering doing it. A few weeks ago, emails started crossing the Seattle Tech Startup mailing list about this thing called “Startup Weekend”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

More on journalistic integrity: Sys-Con, Ulitzer, theft and libel

Recently, an email crossed my Inbox from a friend who was concerned about some questionable practices involving my content (as well as a few others'); apparently, I have been listed as an "author" for SysCon, I have a "domain" with them, and that I've been writing for them since 10 January, 2003, including two articles, "Effective Enterprise Java" and "Java/.NET Interoperability". Given that both of those "articles" are summaries from presentations I've done at conferences past, I'm a touch skeptical.

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.

On speaking, trolling, inciting and growing

It's been going around in developer circles now for a few days, this whole controversy about the "Perform like a pr0n star" presentation from the Golden Gate Ruby Conference and the related accusations of misogyny and sexism and overblown accusations and double-standardisms and what-all else, and I've deliberately waited to let opinions in my head settle out before blogging on the whole thing. Sara J Chipps reacts on her blog, and the comments to her comments are also somewhat...

"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.

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.

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!

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.

"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.

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.

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.

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.

Clearly Thinking... whether in Language, or otherwise

Steve Vinoski thinks to deflate my arguments with suppositions and presumptions, which I cannot simply let stand. (Sorry, Steve-O, but I think you're out in left field on this one. I'm happy to argue it further with you over beer, but if you want the last word, have at it, and we'll compare scores when we run into each other at the next conference.) Steve first takes aim at my comparison of the Erlang process model to the *nix process model: First, Ted says: Erlang’s reliability model–that is, the spawn-a-thousand-processes model–is not unique to Erlang.

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.

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).


IE 8 Beta

This email crossed my desk yesterday, courtesy of the MVP program: Microsoft has recently released a public beta of IE8. Standards and security are of top importance in this release. To that end, the IE team is planning on releasing IE8 in full standards mode. Releasing in Full Standards Mode offers many benefits in the long term, but short term, could cause some end-user and developer issues. We would love to understand your thoughts around the impact of this specific issue and invite your suggestions on how we can best communicate it.

The Complexities of Black Boxes

Kohsuke Kawagachi has posted a blog entry describing how to watch the assembly code get generated by the JVM during execution, using a non-product (debug or fastdebug) build of Hotspot and the -XX:+PrintOptoAssembly flag, a trick he says he learned while at TheServerSide Java Symposium a few weeks ago in Vegas. He goes on to do some analysis of the generated assembly instructions, offering up some interesting insights into the JVM's inner workings.

Is Microsoft serious?

Recently I received a press announcement from Waggener-Edstrom, Microsoft's PR company, about their latest move in the interoperability space; I reproduce it here in its entirety for your perusal: Hi Ted, Microsoft is announcing another action to promote greater interoperability, opportunity and choice across the IT industry of developers, partners, customers and competitors.  Today Microsoft is posting additional documentation of the XAML (eXtensible Application Markup Language) formats for advanced user experiences, enabling third parties to access and implement the XAML formats in their own client, server and tool products.  This documentation is publicly available, for no charge, at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=113699 .  It will assist developers building non-Microsoft clients and servers to read and write XAML to process advanced user experiences – with lots of animation, rich 2D and 3D graphic and video.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Fallacies Remain....

Just recently, I got this bit in an email from the Redmond Developer News ezine: TWO IF BY SEA In the course of just over a week starting on Jan. 30, a total of five undersea data cables linking Europe, Africa and the Middle East were damaged or disrupted. The first two cables to be lost link Europe with Egypt and terminate near the Port of Alexandria. http://reddevnews.com/columns/article.aspx?editorialsid=2502 Early speculation placed the blame on ship anchors that might have dragged across the sea floor during heavy weather.

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.

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.

So I Don't Like Perl. Sue Me.

A number of folks commented on the last post about my "ignorant and apparently unsupported swipes against Parrot and Perl". Responses: I took exactly one swipe at Perl, and there was a smiley at the end of it. Apparently, based on the heavily-slanted pro-Perl/anti-Perl-bigotry comments I've received, Perl programmers don't understand smileys. So I will translate: "It means I am smiling as I say this, which is intended as a way of conveying light-heartedness or humor."

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...

Them's fightin' words

From the cover of Dr. Dobb's Journal (Jan/2008): PHP: The Power Behind Web 2.0 The article goes on to take a much less aggressive tone, simply saying that PHP is a good language for building web sites/applications that make use of Ajax and Web services, but let's be honest: you walk into a bar anywhere in the San Jose, Burlington or Redmond areas and say that kind of thing out loud, yer gonna get tossed out on yer keester.

Quotes on writing

This is, without a doubt, the most accurate quote ever about the "fun" of writing a book: Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.

Anybody know of a good WebDAV client library ...

... for Ruby, or PowerShell/.NET? I'm looking for something to make it easier to use WebDAV from a shell scripting language on Windows; Ruby and PowerShell are the two that come to mind as the easiest to use on Windows. For some reason, Google doesn't yield much by way of results, and I've got to believe there's better WebDAV support out there than what I'm finding. (Yes, I could write one, but why bother, if one is out there that already exists?

Welcome to the Shitty Code Support Group

"Hi. My name's Ted, and I write shitty code." With this opening, a group of us earlier this year opened a panel (back in March, as I recall) at the No Fluff Just Stuff conference in Minneapolis. Neal Ford started the idea, whispering it to me as we sat down for the panel, and I immediately followed his opening statement in the same vein. Poor Charles Nutter, who was new to the tour, didn't get the whispered-down-the-line instruction, and tried valiantly to recover the panel's apparent collective discard of dignity--"Hi, I'm Charles, and I write Ruby code"--to no avail.

A Book Every Developer Must Read

This is not a title I convey lightly, but Michael Nygard's Release It! deserves the honor. It's the first book I've ever seen that addresses the issues of building software that's Production-friendly and sysadmin-approachable. He describes a series of antipatterns describing a variety of software failures, and offers up a series of solutions (patterns, if you will) to building software systems designed to combat said failures. From the back cover: Every website project is really an enterprise integration project: the stakes are high and the projects complex.

Hard Questions About Architects

I get e-mail from blog readers, and this one--literally--stopped me in my tracks as I was reading. Rather than interpret, I'll just quote (with permission) the e-mail and respond afterwards Hi Ted, I had a job interview last Friday which I wanted to share with you. It was for a “Solutions Architect” role with a large Airline here in New Zealand. I had a preliminary interview with the head Architect which went extremely well, and I was called in a few days later for an interview with the other three guys on the Architecture team.

The relational database needs no "defense"

Anyone who is deeply enmeshed in a technology feels compelled to defend that technology when any sort of "threat" (or perception of threat) appears on the horizon, and apparently Gavin is no different. Sure enough, as people (apparently in this case, myself) start to talk about approaches to persistence that don't involve Hibernate, Gavin feels compelled to point to these other technologies using inflammatory terms and a certain amount of FUD.

Would you still love AJAX if you knew it was insecure?

From Bruce Schneier's latest Crypto-Gram: JavaScript Hijacking JavaScript hijacking is a new type of eavesdropping attack against Ajax-style Web applications.  I'm pretty sure it's the first type of attack that specifically targets Ajax code.  The attack is possible because Web browsers don't protect JavaScript the same way they protect HTML; if a Web application transfers confidential data using messages written in JavaScript, in some cases the messages can be read by an attacker.

RedHat, Inc: The Next Microsoft?

Think that RedHat is still the open source capital of the Internet, all happy-happy-joy-joy with its supporters and liberal-minded in its goals? Take a look at this and tell me if your mind isn’t changed a little: Enclosed is a copy of the form letter they sent out to many companies that offer Hibernate consulting and training.  Dear Sir or Madam:  Red Hat, Inc. has become aware that your company is offering Hibernate training courses.

Important/Not-so-important

Frank Kelly posted some good ideas on his entry, “Java: Are we worrying about the wrong things?”, but more interestingly, he suggested (implicitly) a new format for weighing in on trends and such, his “Important/Not-so-important” style. For example, NOT SO IMPORTANT: Web 2.0IMPORTANT: Giving users a good, solid user experience. Web 2.0 doesn’t make sites better by itself - it provides powerful technologies but it’s no silver bullet. There are so many terrible web sites out there with issues such as- Too much content / too cluttered http://jdj.sys-con.com/- Too heavy for the many folks still on dial-up- Inconsistent labeling- etc.

More on Ethics

While traveling not too long ago, I saw a great piece on ethics, and wished I’d kept the silly magazine (I couldn’t remember which one) because it was just a really good summation of how to live the ethical life. While wandering around the Web with Google tonight, I found it (scroll down a bit, to after the bits on Prohibition and Laughable Laws); in summary, the author advocates a life around five basic points: Do no harm Make things better Respect others Be fair Be loving Seems pretty simple, no?

Programming Promises (or, the Professional Programmer's Hippocratic Oath)

Michael.NET, apparently inspired by my “Check Your Politics At The Door” post, and equally peeved at another post on blogs.msdn.com, hit a note of pure inspiration when he created his list of “Programming Promises”, which I repeat below: I promise to get the job done. I promise to use whatever tools I need to, regardless of politics. I promise to listen to the Closed Source and Open Source zealots equally, and then dismiss them.

Two more interviews...

Two more of the interviews I did at JavaPolis 2006 in Belgium are now online… first, Eric Evans (of “Domain-Driven Design” fame), talking about, quite naturally, domain-driven design, and the second, the pair that brought Ruby to the JVM, Charles Nutter and Thomas Enebo. (Charles was just recently added to the No Fluff Just Stuff tour, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with him and playing more with JRuby.)

Javapolis 2006 Interview w/Neal Gafter available

The first of the interviews I did at Javapolis 2006 is now available, this one with Neal Gafter. It's an interesting chat, particularly the parts where he discusses the two closures proposals being tossed around the Java space.

The Root of All Evil

At a No Fluff Just Stuff conference not that long ago, Brian Goetz and I were hosting a BOF on "Java Internals" (I think it was), and he tossed off a one-liner that just floored me; I forget the exact phrasology, but it went something like: Remember that part about premature optimization being the root of all evil? He was referring to programmer career lifecycle, not software development lifecycle. ... and the more I thought about it, the more I think Brian was absolutely right.

Interop Briefs: Check your politics at the door

(Originally appeared on TheServerSide, November 2006; I’ve made some edits to it since then.) As we prepare to enter the holiday season here in the US, I think it’s time that we called for Peace on Earth. Or, at least, Peace in Computer Science.   In 2000, when Microsoft first announced the .NET Framework (then called by various alternative names, such as the “Universal RunTime (URT)” or “COM3” or the “Component Object Runtime (COR)”), it was immediately hailed as the formal declaration of war on Sun and Java, if not an actual pre-emptive attack.

A Time for a Change

I've had The Blog Ride up for almost two years now, and it seems the latest fad to change your blog title to match whatever your particular focus is at the moment. Given my tech predictions for 2007, and how I believe that interoperability is going to become a Big Deal (well, I guess in one sense it was already, but now I think it's going to become a Bigger Deal), and that hey, this is my schtick anyway, I've decided to rename the blog from "The Blog Ride" (which was kinda a lame name to begin with) to ...

Warning: XSS attack in PDF URLs

Just heard this through the OWASP mailing list, and it’s a dandy: I wanted to give everyone all a heads-up on a very serious new application security vulnerability that probably affects you. Basically, any application that serves PDF files is likely to be vulnerable to XSS attacks. Attackers simply have to add an anchor containing a script, e.g. add #blah=javascript:alert(document.cookie); to ANY URL that ends in .pdf (or streams a PDF).

2006 Tech Predictions: A Year in Hindsight

OK, time to face the music and look back at my predictions from last year: The hype surrounding Ajax will slowly fade, as people come to realize that there’s really nothing new here, just that DHTML is cool again. As Dion points out, Ajax will become a toolbox that you use in web development without thinking that “I am doing Ajax”. Just as we don’t think about “doing HTML” vs “doing DOM”.

Tech Predictions: 2007 Edition

So, in what's become an ongoing tradition, this is the time of year when I peer into the patented Ted Neward Crystal Ball (TM) (operators are standing by!), see what it tells me about technology trends and ideas for the coming year, and report them to you. The usual disclaimers apply, meaning I'm not getting any sort of endorsement deals to mention anybody's technology here, I'm not speaking for anybody but myself in this, and so on.

Java/.NET Interop discussions..

… are currently under way at The ServerSide Interoperability Blog, and at the InfoQ Java/.NET portal. I’ll try to post more on the subject here, but for now, enjoy.

New column goes live

The folks over at MSDN asked me to author a series of articles based around the theme of the "Pragmatic Architecture" talk I've given in a couple of locales recently, and the first article ("Layering") has gone up, along with the introduction to the series. Feedback is, of course, welcome, through either blog comments or through more traditional channels. By the way, here's an interesting challenge for those of you who think you're up for it--who are the two members of "the group" spotted by the author during the intro?

There, but for the grace of God (and the experiences of Java) go I

At the patterns&practices Summit in Redmond, I was on a webcasted panel, "Open Source in the Enterprise", moderated by Scott Hanselman and included myself, Rocky Lhotka, and Chris Sells as panelists. Part of the discussion came around to building abstraction layers, though, and one thing that deeply worried and disappointed me was the reaction of the other panelists when I tried to warn them of the dangers of over-abstracting APIs. You see, we got onto this subject because Scott had mentioned that Corillian (his company) had built an abstraction layer on top of the open-source logging package, log4net.

Where've you been, Ted?

Some of the blog readers have emailed me asking about the long silence; a few have even asked if I was injured by one of the flying rotten tomatoes that came with the Vietnam post. No, I've just been traveling a lot, doing a bunch of conferences, with more coming up, like JAOO and DevReach (a new show that's opening in Sofia, Bulgaria, and one that I'm really looking forward to).

Thoughts on Vietnam commentary

Numerous folks have taken me to task (some here in comments, some through private email, some through still other channels) over the last blog post; rather than try to respond to all individually, I figured it makes more sense to address the more salient points here: "How dare you use the Vietnam War as an analogy for something so trivial as object/relational mapping?" First of all, let's make a few facts clear.

The Vietnam of Computer Science

(Two years ago, at Microsoft’s TechEd in San Diego, I was involved in a conversation at an after-conference event with Harry Pierson and Clemens Vasters, and as is typical when the three of us get together, architectural topics were at the forefront of our discussions. An crowd gathered around us, and it turned into an impromptu birds-of-a-feather session. The subject of object/relational mapping technologies came up, and it was there and then that I first coined the phrase, “Object/relational mapping is the Vietnam of Computer Science”.

Can the CLR "go dynamic"? Absolutely... and arguably, already is

Larry O’Brien asks Are you confident that continuations can be even semi-efficiently implemented on the CLR? I’m not.and in turn references his blog, where he points out a quote from Patrick Logan that says “If Microsoft really looks at Ruby as competition then Microsoft has already lost the war” and offers this: If Microsoft thinks Ruby is important, they’re ignoring the threat to them posed by X (where, I suspect, X = LISP), or If Microsoft thinks Ruby is competition, they will not implement it and therefore be doomed Not long ago, Microsoft posted a job opening for a developer “first task will be to drive the exploration of other dynamic languages such as Ruby and JavaScript on the CLR”, so my feeling is that if Microsoft could get a Ruby on the CLR, they’d be thrilled.

Another podcast with me goes live...

The guys over at Software Engineering Radio asked me to do a podcast a few months back, and it's now live on their website. They were particularly interested in language and new language development, so we spent a fair amount of time talking about Scala, F#, LINQ, and other interesting language developments in the world of the JVM and CLR. Have a listen, if you like...

More on "Monad vs Ruby"... which really wasn't supposed to be a "vs" at all...

A while back, I blogged how MonadWindows PowerShell can be used to do a lot of the things the Ruby advocates are saying is one of Ruby's biggest strengths, that of "scripting" and driving things from the REPL environment. Glenn Vanderburg jumped all over me, believing I was suggesting that this was some kind of contest by which Ruby was supposed to come out in the Negative Points Zone. Had that been my intent, I would heartily agree with his critique; unfortunately, that wasn't the point.


Need Ruby? Nah--get Monad instead

I happened across this blog entry while doing some research on Monad, Microsoft's new command shell (meaning, think "bash" or "csh", not "Explorer"), and found it so similar in many ways to what guys in the Ruby space have been hyping for a year or two now, that I just had to pass it on. Reproducing directly from the site: One of the scripts I like the most in my toolbox is the one that gives me answers to questions from the command line.

Why programmers shouldn't fear offshoring

Recently, while engaging in my other passion (international relations), I was reading the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, and ran across an interesting essay regarding the increasing outsourcing--or, the term they introduce which I prefer in this case, "offshoring"--of technical work, and I found some interesting analysis there that I think solidifies why I think programmers shouldn't fear offshoring, but instead embrace it and ride the wave to a better life for both us and consumers.

Bruce Tate, this time on moving from Java to Ruby

Bruce Tate is at it again, this time writing for the Pragmatic Press, called "Java to Ruby", on... well, the title kinda says it all, on migrating from Java to Ruby. It's not just a "blind adoption" book, meaning it just blindly advocates the transition, but instead Bruce discusses the risks involved with making the switch, and how to justify it to upper management. Don't get me wrong, he's operating from the basic conclusion that you want to make the switch, so if you're not yet convinced that Ruby or Ruby-on-Rails is the way to go, you're not necessarily going to be any more convinced by this book.

My kingdom for a good macro language!

Much of the power, it seems, of languages like Ruby or Nemerle or LISP derives from the ability to create chunks of code that operate in turn on the code itself; a long-standing meme of the LISP world is that "code is data", meaning it can be manipulated and twisted and tweaked in structural ways before being executed. And this isn't the first time we've experimented with this idea: CLOS, Common List Object System, was where Gregor Kiczales, of AspectJ fame, cut his teeth on the AOP concepts, largely because it seemed to him that having a completely open meta-object protocol was too dangerous--but that's another story.

Check it out...

The new home page is alive and kicking…

Don't fall prey to the latest social engineering attack

My father, whom I've often used (somewhat disparagingly...) as an example of the classic "power user", meaning "he-thinks-he-knows-what-he's-doing-but-usually-ends-up-needing-me-to-fix-his-computer-afterwards" (sorry Dad, but it's true...), often forwards me emails that turn out to be one hoax or another. This time, though, he found a winner--he sent me this article, warning against the latest caller identity scam: this time, they call claiming to be clerks of the local court, threatening that because the victim hasn't reported in for jury duty, arrest warrants have been issued.

Scala reactions

Apparently, I touched a nerve with that last post; predictably, people started counting the keystrokes and missing my point. For example, Mark Blomsma wrote: Looks to me like you're comparing apples and pears. C# does not force you to use accessors. The following is already a lot closer to Scala. public class Person { public string firstName; public string lastName; public Person spouse; public Person(string fn, string ln, Person s) { firstName = fn; lastName = ln; spouse = s; } public Person(string fn, string ln) : this(gn, ln, null) { } public string Introduction() { return "Hi, my name is " + firstName + " " + lastName + (spouse != null ?

Scala pt 2: Brevity

While speaking at a conference in the .NET space (the patterns & practices Summit, to be precise), Rocky Lhotka once offered an interesting benchmark for language productivity, a variation on the kLOC metric, what I would suggest is the “CLOC” idea: how many lines of code required to express a concept. (Or, since we could argue over formatting and style until the cows come home, how many keystrokes rather than lines of code.) Let’s start with a simple comparison.

Want Ruby-esque features on the JVM (or CLR)? Introducing Scala

Recently, while cruising the Internet (and, in particular, the Lambda-the-Ultimate site), I ran across the Scala programming language, latest brainchild of Martin Odersky (of GJ fame, which of course was derived from Pizza, among others). It's another entry in the hybrid functional/object language space, and as such, has a lot of interesting features that Ruby holds, but runs on the JVM (and can actually cross-compile into a .NET assembly, though it does require some slightly different mappings), and as such means developers don't have to make a wholesale commitment to the Ruby interpreter.

Billy Hollis on the history of programming languages

Billy Hollis, famed Visual Basic lecturer and secret programming language anthropologist, has compiled a succinct history of programming languages. As he puts it, If you like VB, look at the history of the C family [of languages] first. If you like C#, Java or C++, look at the history of the BASIC family first. Definitely something to quote next time you're in a (friendly) raging debate about "which language is better".

Am I a curmudgeon of technology? You betcha

Matt Morton commented, "One might be able to say that Ted Neward is cynical about any new technology. You might also say he puts himself in the position of the "old" kermudgeon (sp) who opposes anything new and cool." Yep, guilty as charged, for a very specific reason. Ages ago, when EJB first shipped, I was one of the first who looked at it with stars in my eyes. It seemed like such a great, easy solution to all the problems of developers building server-side systems (and I'd done a C++-based 2-tier, CORBA-based 2-tier and Java/NetDynamics-based 3-tier system before this, so I kinda fit into that space already).


New Ajax course available

The Pragmatic guys are at it again... This time it's a whole course, taught by two of the finest instructors I have had the privilege to know (and, quite honestly, argue with), on everybody's favorite presentation-layer hot topic, Ajax. By the way, dear audience, this is one class you can attend regardless of which camp you prefer--both Stu and Justin are equally adept on both enterprise platforms (Java and .NET) and the new hot language, as is clear when they say that they will show you how "to use frameworks such as Rails, Spring, and ASP.NET"; Justin, for example, co-authored "Better, Faster, Lighter Java" and the "Spring Developer's Handbook", as well as built DevelopMentor's ASP.NET website and infrastructure.

Question for the audience

An interesting question emerged during a discussion with some buddies/co-workers/peers/whatever-you-want-to-call-them today: "Which conferences have you attended in the past that you thought was really good, and why? Which sessions were your favorites, and why? What made them that way?" (The root of the question was simple at its heart: What makes a good conference session?) Yes, this is somewhat selfish, since the new conference season is amping up, and obviously I'd like to make sure my sessions are ones that people find interesting and recommend to others, but the question actually stemmed from an unrelated discussion to that.

Too quick to adopt Ruby, you were.

Microsoft has done it again--this time, they're previewing the next release of C# planned for after LINQ/C# 3.0. They call it, for obvious reasons, the YODA programming langauge. Judge me by my size, do you? As well you should not, for my ally is the Source, and a powerful ally it is, indeed. Remember: A Jedi uses the Source only for knowledge and defense, never for a hack.

2006 Tech Predictions

In keeping with the tradition, I'm suggesting the following will take place for 2006: The hype surrounding Ajax will slowly fade, as people come to realize that there's really nothing new here, just that DHTML is cool again. As Dion points out, Ajax will become a toolbox that you use in web development without thinking that "I am doing Ajax". Just as we don't think about "doing HTML" vs "doing DOM".

Anonymous generic methods making things "just work"

A good friend of mine and I are looking at taking on a new project together, and as part of the discussion we were exploring some of the differences of taking a relational perspective against an object perspective, and one of the comments she made was that in a relational model, you can always "filter" the data you want based on some predicate. "Ha!", I said, "If that's what you want, I can give you that over objects, too!" What's more, thanks to generics, I can do this for any collection type in the system without having to introduce it on some kind of base class: static class SetUtils { public static List<T Project<T(List<T list, Predicate<T pred) { List<T results = new List<T(); foreach (T p in list) if (pred(p)) results.Add(p); return results; } // Not too hard to imagine the other relational operators here, too } // Usage: class Person { private string firstName; private string lastName; public Person(string fn, string ln, int age) { this.firstName = fn; this.lastName = ln; } public string FirstName { get { return firstName; } set { firstName = value; } } public string LastName { get { return lastName; } set { lastName = value; } } public override string ToString() { return "[Person [" + firstName + "]" + " " + "[" + lastName + "]" + "]"; } } class Program { static void Main(string[] args) { Person cg = new Person("Cathi", "Gero", 35); Person tn = new Person("Ted", "Neward", 35); Person sg = new Person("Stephanie", "Gero", 12); Person mn = new Person("Michael", "Neward", 12); List<Person list = new List<Person(); list.Add(cg); list.Add(tn); list.Add(sg); list.Add(mn); List<Person newards = SetUtils.Project<Person(list, delegate (Person p) { if (p.LastName == "Neward") return true; else return false; } ); foreach (Person p in newards) Console.WriteLine(p); } } Any more questions?

Nullable Type correction/bugfix

This is a bit of old news, but the discussion came up during the Seattle Code Camp, so I thought I'd go through the problem, and use it as an example of the issues that can come up when trying to map language concepts on top of a platform that doesn't support the idea natively. Hopefully, this will cause developers looking to build DSLs or other languages on top of the .NET (or JVM) platform to see some of the edge cases a bit more clearly and a bit sooner.

Porting legacy code

Matt Davey poses an interesting question: The problem: C++ Corba legacy codebase (5+ years old, 1 million lines) No unit tests Little test data Limited knowledge transfer from the original development team. A flake environment to run the application in. The requirement: Port the C++ result accumulation and session management code to Java Do you: Write C+ unit tests to understand the current system, then write Java equivalent code using TDD Write Java tests using TDD based on your understanding of the C++ code Hope you understand the C++ code, and JFDI in Java Give up and go home Get the original development team to do the work Ah, I love the smell of legacy code in the morning.

Concurrent languages

Ever since the Seattle Code Camp, where I hosted a discussion (hardly can call it a lecture–I didn’t do most of the talking this time, as it turned out) on language innovations, one of the topics that came up was the notion of concurrency, and of course Herb Sutter’s “No More Free Lunch” article from DDJ from some months ago. That put a bug in my ear: what sort of languages out there support concurrency in some form, baked into the language?

Dynamic languages, type systems and self-modifying systems

Stu Halloway has responded to my earlier post about dynamic languages, and Stu refines his argument. Still wrong, but at least now it’s refined. :-) Stu writes that we’re “talking past one another”, and in particular notes that The criticial point is that these abstractions are implemented in the language itself. Developers can (and do!) modify these core abstractions to work in different ways. where “these abstractions” are referring to “inheritance, encapsulation, delegation”, etc, from my post.

Seattle Code Camp: Update

For those in the blogosphere living in the Seattle area, wondering about details on Seattle’s Code Camp 2005 experience, the schedule and agenda have been posted. It’s looking to be an interesting set of talks, including discussions on MacOS/Cocoa development, Ruby, an Intro to Perl, Monad, Objective C, and LINQ/C# 3… and that’s just in the languages/frameworks track. Observant Blog Ride Readers will note, however, that the sessions page doesn’t list anything from me.

Partners, old and new

For many developers, it’s been a while since they got together with their current programming environment. They’ve hit the 7-year-itch mark with their current language/platform partner. They find themselves in a rut. Coding is mundane. Routine. Boring, even. It’s the same old roll-over, perfunctory foreplay about which frameworks to use, same decisions and scripts every time, same results, same good-night kiss and back-to-sleep as the last project, and the project before that and the project before that and the project before that… Ruby is new.

More on the dynamic language wave, but leave the poor vendors alone

The good folks over at Relevance have blogged again, offering something of a backhanded compliment to the new features of C# 3.0: The argument that I infer from Ted’s piece is “Look! now we can have (some of) the expressiveness of dynamic languages with (most of) the safety of a statically typed language.” … But just because C# now looks a little more like some dynamic languages, don’t make the mistake of assuming that two worlds are converging.

Seattle Code Camp:

I’m a bit late to this, but they’ve just started putting together the logistics for Seattle Code Camp (Oct 22-23), a community-driven event bringing programming speakers and interested attendees together for a couple of days, gratis. Who is “they”, you ask? It’s that Evil Empire, Microsoft, out to steal your souls. Be warned, Java faithful, lest ye lose your chance at the Afterlife and Good Code! Not. Code Camps are a recent invention of Microsoft’s, and they’re intended to be technology-agnostic.

Props to my wife

For those of you who don’t know this, the blog at the root of the neward.net domain is one that my wife maintains–all I can claim is inspiration, providing her with plenty of material to write about, like the stories about her kids and her uber-geek husband. A regular Muse, that’s me. :-) The reason I bring it up here, in this channel, is that I’ve had more speaker-friends of mine come to me and tell me that while they like reading my blog, they love reading Charlotte’s blog.

C-omega's Revenge: Project LINQ

For anybody who's not been paying attention to the technical news front, this week is Microsoft's PDC in LA, and one of the things they've announced for the next release of Visual Studio is Project LINQ, short for Language INtegrated Query. In essence, C# 3 and VB 9 are going to integrate (through a variety of language extensions, such as lambda expressions) query capabilities directly into the language, making much of the need for an automatted O/R mapping layer (such as Hibernate or JDO) a thing of the past (at least, in theory).

It's time to do away with this "Web" service thing... long live XML services!

Stefan Tilkov blogs about my rebuttal to ERH’s rather limited comment about “nobody’s doing Web services over anything over HTTP anyway” (which generated some additional postings, most notably from Steve Vinoski), but says something pretty fundamental: I think its just a matter of perspective: for Web scenarios, nobody uses anything but HTTP anyway, and for the vast majority of company-internal use-cases, Id consider HTTP to be a much better solution than some vendors proprietary messaging middleware.

Adopting Rails... or Ruby... or anything else, for that matter

Duane Gran emailed me with his thoughts on adopting Ruby-and-Rails into his shop, only his thoughts on the matter are a bit different from the usual rant; he’s looking at it from the management perspective, and has some good ideas on when and why to adopt… or not to adopt… a new programming language. Specifically, he spells out: The decision to change programming languages, databases and operating systems shouldn’t be taken lightly, but when the issue comes up the approach should be analytic.

When do you use XML, again?

So I'm flipping through some old weblog entries, and I run across this one: So when is it a good idea to use XML for your data? The easy answer is that you should use XML when it is likely to be easier (in the long run) than creating your own parser. Using XML carries some cost. XML is verbose, and parsing is guaranteed to be slower than a custom parser.

Parrot interoperability

Dion blogged about $g(Parrot) a while back, and it triggered an interesting thought: we already have IKVM, a JVM-running-on-the-CLR, is it possible and/or practical to do a Parrot-running-on-the-CLR or Parrot-running-on-the-JVM? That would do some interesting kinds of interoperability scenarios between Parrot's targeted dynamic languages and the library-rich platforms of Java and .NET....

Rails... finis?

Well, apparently I've created quite a stir in the blogspace by not immediately rushing to embrace Ruby-on-Rails, and I'm of two minds as to the larger impact. For starters, allow me to respond, one last time, to what Justin and Dion and Glenn have written: "Pretty clearly, Rails' biggest benefit is Ruby itself. ... Dynamic languages like Ruby provide for eloquence of expression and compile-/run-/deploy-time extension of the core framework abstractions.

More on Rails

It appears that a couple of my so-called friends are expressing surprise(?) or condemnation(?) over the fact that I didn’t fall under the spell of Ruby-on-Rails at the $NFJS Austin show. As the great comic Steve Martin used to say, “Well excuuuuuuuse me!” :-) Dion first takes a couple of cheap shots: Firstly, you can’t say much for Ted wrt taste… I mean he is running that .NET blog software now ;) Dude, you have NO idea how much simpler and easier my life is now thanks to dasBlog.

NFJS Austin, and Rails

So I’m in the Austin area this weekend, for yet another NFJS show, except this time I actually had time in the schedule to attend the Friday night talks. (Normally I’m too busy traveling to be here on Friday–I typically need the Friday night timeframe to actually get here, which probably explains why my Saturday morning talks are always a crap shoot.) Part of my reason for wanting to be here early was a desire to see more of Dave Thomas’ talks, and in particular, I wanted to get more of the Ruby and Rails Religion that seems to be infesting… er, maybe I should say “spreading like wildfire” instead… my friends in the speaker crowd.