Archive for June 2003

Agiledox

My colleague Joe Walnes pointed me to a fascinatingly simple tool developed by our colleague Chris Stevenson. TextDox (part of AgileDox) is a tool to automatically generate documentation from JUnit test cases. Sounds ridiculous, but then that’s what Wardish ideas are like. via [Martin Fowler's Bliki]

 

Go To The Source Luke

The standard answer to the people wanting to really understand how .NET works is to go to the source, i.e. the Rotor source code. Now, there is one step better: these great presentations from the Rotor Conference (scroll to the bottom) from people like Peter, and Jason amongst others. Want to undertand the JIT? The GC? Its all here! via
[Sam Gentile's Blog]

Another great resource is the hyperlinked version of the C# Language Specification.

Future Visions

Eric Kidd has written an eloquent post dismaying of the future for small ISVs. He sees the future dominated by two forces: Microsoft and Open Source. He laments for a third way, where “30 person companies” can be significant. He has some good points: Microsoft and Open Source are going to be around and they are going to influence the SD world. But small ISVs have a brilliant future. JetBrains  has about 5% marketshare of the Java IDE space. That gives them enough money to expand, build interesting software, and be entirely limited in their growth by finding people talented enough to join their company. Not a bad situation.

The other day I was writing an article about the Tablet PC that will appear in a future issue of SD Times and I wanted to emphasize that innovative hardware always introduce a needs gap, in which the nimbleness and imagination of entrepreneurs is a crucial advantage. And my fingers first wrote, “It’s been more than a decade since the widespread introduction of the mouse and the bitmapped display…” and then I wiped that out and tried “It’s been more than 5 years since the original Palm…” and then I wiped that out and tried to figure out how I could get people excited with the truth, which is “Well, actually, the Tablet PC is an older piece of hardware than the Smartphone, which isn’t even yet released in the US, and which is an entree into a market that’s considerably larger than the entire universe of desktop PCs.”

Let’s take a look at OneNote, Microsoft’s forthcoming note-taking system. I think it’s safe to assume that in 5 years, Gartner will be able to say something like “80% of all notes taken on the Tablet PC are taken in OneNote.” And there’s two alternative note-taking systems already in the marketplace: FranklinCovey’s TabletPlanner and Mindjet’s MindManager. But you know what? I don’t like any of them. I’ll lay down my credit card instantly for a note-taking system that accords with the way I write; “80% of the note-taking market” is entirely irrelevant to me because notes are central to the way I work, just as “95% of the Java IDE market” is entirely irrelevant to the fact that I can’t imagine choosing another Java IDE over IntelliJ.

I have no idea what computers are going to look like in 25 years but I guarantee you that people will still struggle with communication, will still be frustrated that they can’t coordinate their activities, will still long for tools that facilitate the expression of their artistic impulses, will still watch projects stall and falter despite the best intentions, will still be frustrated trying to lose weight, will still worry about keeping their kids safe, will still… be busy. And they will still be eager to pay for things that save them time. And if the software is well-written and well-supported and helps them achieve their goals, they won’t give a damn if it comes from a company with 30 employees or 30,000.

SDK for Windows Mobile 2003-based Pocket PC Emulator Images

Download new Emulator Images that allow you to test your applications in all available Pocket PC 2003 languages. via [Microsoft Download Center]

Microsoft released the new version of the Pocket PC operating system today. It’s called Windows Mobile 2003 and I think its most important features are built-in WiFi and Bluetooth support. Also, it supports Windows Media 9 technologies, which are so good that they might actually convince me to carry around the occasional home movie. (I dunno’, though: I’ve got a 256MB card, am I really going to give up a big chunk of that for the off-chance of showing someone my latest dive video?)

Best Offer: Amazon Software Tech

Jeff Bezos wants his company to offer mini-Amazons to companies needing a successful Web commerce tool. The technology that runs the popular shopping site may be its most valuable product offering. via [Wired News]

I think this makes a lot of sense. Internal Business Machines and National Cash Register were built on bringing new merchant technologies to small stores. The push to bring Mom & Pop stores onto the Web dried up with no real winners; while there’s plenty of technology available to technical people, there are millions of craftspeople who represent a real economic opportunity and force and who do not have a clear solution other than eBay, which isn’t quite the same.

Modular Self-Configuring Robots

PARC researcher Mark Yim builds amazing modular robots that can self-reconfigure from a snake to a loop to a spider without stopping. Check out the videos–very Transformers-esque! For those in the San Francisco Bay Area, Yim is speaking on Monday in a public seminar at the Intel Research Berkeley lablet! Link Discuss (Thanks, Eric!) via [Boing Boing Blog]

Insanely cool. Be sure to check out the fence-climbing video and the one where it transforms from a snake to a loop to a spider.

Whence keycodes?

How do people make license-restricted software? You know, 30-day trial edition, but when you enter your name, company, and keycode, the software says “Yeah, that’s fine.” Do people roll their own (and, if so, are there “best practices”), or is this a commercial market in which there are a few players (a la installers)?

Tablet PC — lovable, but let’s be real

I love the Tablet PC as a platform. But in light of some recent postings about it, I have to say one thing: application software that takes advantage of the pen is still extremely rare. There’s a current ad from Microsoft showing a literary agent marking up a book proposal on the Tablet PC (actually, it’s the book proposal for Carter Beats The Devil, which was already an established hit before the Tablet PC saw the light of day, but maybe hot-shot literary agents are on early access). The ad shows a ho-hum book proposal “beefed up” with standard proof-reading marks, and the implication is clearly that one is editing the original text. The ability to use proofer’s marks on a text document is a clear killer app for millions of customers, as is the ability to handwrite long pieces of work. You can’t edit text with inked proofmarks on a Tablet PC with existing software. You can’t write continuous texts on a Tablet PC with existing software. These limitations are strictly application limitations and I fully expect both abilities to be available within a year or two, but new software will need to be written to exploit it.

The Return of Push

Tim Bray: Of course, if we need to do some extension work to fit this out for financial applications, that can be done, right? via [Sam Ruby]

RSS was, I think, the very first XML format I ever saw (I may be repressing VRML, but that’s not surprising). And remember Active Desktop in Windows 98 (?). I guess if you’re Microsoft, it isn’t such a bitter pill to be ahead of the game, but wouldn’t you hate to be a former PointCast employee? Here’s a relevant link to Marc Canter’s speech at Reboot, in which he says “Things need to be small and modular: programmers working nights, little companies. The VCs pushed us to head for IPO, so entire companies were based on one feature. ” (link via Boing Boing)

Summer reading

Praise for books by Fritz Onion, Shawn Wildermuth, Don Box and Chris Sells, Jeffrey Richter, and others in my latest .NET and Windows Watch column in SD Times.

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