Archive for March 2007

InfoWorld is dead

IDG’s newsweekly, InfoWorld, is moving to an online-only format (Read Steve Fox’s, its Editor-in-Chief, discussion). Fox says that InfoWorld is not “going away,” but so far the conversion of a print readership to online has been, at best, problematic. There have been some credible attempts ( Byte, for instance) but the problems are considerable, not least that the business instincts of a print publisher must be overridden regularly in this different medium. I’m not saying it’s impossible, and wish success for Infoworld’s staff, but this is yet another instance where I am grateful for having left the business aspects of publishing behind me.

Ready To Get Home

In the airport today, I saw a fellow browsing Sudoku books. Flipping through them, seemingly evaluating pages as one might check out a writer’s style. I thought about going up beside him, looking over his shoulder and saying “Well, that one’s trivial,” or “Oh, that one.”

Last night I had a dream and it had something to do about useless wedding gifts. One thing was a quilted earpiece caddy for eyeglasses — you slipped it on over the ends of your eyeglasses while leaving your glasses on the counter overnight in a cold climate, thus avoiding that annoying “gee, my eyeglasses are chilly,” feeling that ruins so many a cold morning. What’s sad is that I know if I pick up a Sky Mall in the plane, I’ll see something even more absurd.

MSTest Moving to VS Pro

 

Naysawn has announced that the Visual Studio unit testing framework (MSTest) is moving into the Pro SKU of Visual Studio. That’s a good start, but I want to lobby for going the whole way:

Please move the unit testing framework into the .NET framework.

Source: MSTest Moving to VS Pro
Originally published on Wed, 28 Mar 2007 08:35:00 GMT by Brad Wilson

And there was much rejoicing…

Of course, Brad’s right that unit-testing libraries ought to move into the base library, but the VS tools are sophisticated enough to be implemented solely as VS add-ins.

Kathy Sierra: 100% Right. Those Who Threatened Her: 100% Wrong.

I’ve never met Kathy Sierra. I don’t subscribe to her blog. But I am utterly, utterly appalled to hear that she was subjected to death threats and, while those who threatened her are below contempt, nor should there by the tiniest portion of toleration for those who attempt to make light of such things. No. Wrong. That the Internet provides an amplification to the voice of the disenfranchised and the unhappy, to the untrained and the counter-cultural, is commendable, but in no way, in no way, does this excuse anyone, anyone from the power of the written word or from the affect of the public voice. That the Internet already plays host to hate, to misogyny, to racism, to all that shit — in no way do those facts mitigate the responsibility of those who write.

Apparently, it is known who is most likely responsible for the threats. I hope they’re prosecuted and I hope they go to jail.

Build A Game In A Year: Win $10K

Dream Games has extended their registration date for their Build a game in a year and increased the prize money to $10,000. They have also explictly stated that TorqueX based games will be allowed. Last date for registration is April 1st 2007

Source: Another $10,000 competition – for TorqueX Originally published by zman@thezbuffer.com

I almost landed a 25-article contract for high-performance programming for which I was going to develop a game. I had the games all designed, too. Oh well. None of us can afford a significant amount of programming for a purely speculative reward, but if you have the intention of developing a game anyway, what harm would it be registering for the contest?

stpBA Storyboarding: Best Rookie Product I’ve Seen In Years

The easiest Jolt vote I’ve made in years was for stpBA Storyboarding, a product which every architect and team lead owes themselves to evaluate. I would say it is revolutionary, but it is better than that — it simply makes the way you probably already work vastly more efficient.

Essentially, it is a product that transforms screen-based storyboards into requirements and work-items. Based on (and in) Microsoft Office, you mock up screens using Visio and link them together using arrows. And then it transforms that into work-items. That’s it. Simple. Obvious. Just works.

I could say that storyboards are one of the few diagrams that are universally comprehensible and producible by designers, users, and developers. I could say that usage-centered design, as laid out by Larry Constantine & Lucy Lockwood, is the most efficacious way I know to elicit requirements. I could say that the downside of storyboards has always been tracing their detail to and from work-items, and so they’ve traditionally been a “write once” work product. But I don’t need to say that, because it’s all so obvious.

It’s really an eye-opening product — download it, install it in a VM, you’ll be happy.

The only rub being that I really do mean “install it in a VM.” That it is essentially a Visio plug-in is both a strength and weakness of Storyboarding. Today, it only works with Office 2003. An Office 12 version is in development, but this is the type of product that, once you’ve tried it, you don’t want to be without. Like all Jolt judges, I make extensive use of virtual machines (the awarding of a Jolt to VMWare Lab Manager was no shock) but Storyboarding was one where I felt that tuning up a dedicated virtual machine was very much the “way to do it.” Perhaps due to the opaqueness of Office as a plug-in host, getting Storyboarding up and running took a little tweaking. If I recall correctly, before I attached the VM to the Internet to register/validate Office, there was some silent error that led to features not being enabled. Also, the workflow within Storyboarding was not immediately obvious, since it relies on its own pane within Visio and the potential is not quite unleashed by “press the buttons left to right.” It’s not a long learning curve, but it’s longer than learning Peggle.

Highly recommended. (Storyboarding, not Peggle. If you wish to ever have a productive day again, I advise you not try Peggle.)

2007 Jolts Awards

The Jolt Awards were announced last night. The list of winners is below. We had some particularly competitive categories this year (in Technical Books, I advise you to simply fill your shopping cart with the finalists). Most delightful, this was a year where there was some real innovation, which I’ll highlight in some individual discussions.

1. Books General

Jolt Winner:

    • Agile Software Development by Alistair Cockburn (Addison-Wesley Professional)

    >

    Productivity Winners:

    • Catastrophe Disentanglement by E. M. Bennatan (Addison-Wesley Professional)
    • Practices of an Agile Developer by V. Subramaniam and A. Hunt (Pragmatic Bookshelf)
    • Software Estimation Demystifying the Black Art by Steve McConnell (Microsoft Press)

    2. Books Technical

    Jolt Winner:

      • Head First Object-Oriented Analysis & Design by B. McLaughlin, G. Pollice, and D. West (O’Reilly Media)

      >

      Productivity Winners:

      • Code Quality by Diomidis Spinellis (Addison-Wesley Professional)
      • Refactoring Databases by Scott W. Ambler and P. J. Sadalage (Addison-Wesley Professional)
      • CSS: The Missing Manual by David Sawyer McFarland (O’Reilly Media)

      3. Change and Configuration Management

      Jolt Winner:

        • AccuRev 4.5 with AccuWorkflow (AccuRev)

        >

        Productivity Winners:

        • AnthillPro3 (Urbancode)
        • Perforce SCM (Perforce)
        • Team Foundation Server (Microsoft)

        4. Collaboration Tools

        Jolt Winner:

        1. Confluence (Atlassian Software Systems)

        Productivity Winners:

        • Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional (Adobe Systems)
        • NetBeans IDE (Sun Microsystems)
        • TeamCity (JetBrains)

        5. Database Engines and Data Tools

        Jolt Winner:

          • Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Database Professionals (Microsoft)

          >

          Productivity Winners:

          • Coral8 Engine (Coral8)
          • Dbdeploy (ThoughtWorks)
          • SQL Refactor (Red Gate Software)

          6. Design and Modeling Tools

          Jolt Winner:

            • stpBA Storyboarding (stpsoft)

            >

            Productivity Winners:

            • Corticon Business Rules Modeling Studio (Corticon)
            • MagicDraw UML (No Magic)
            • Stylus Studio 2007 XML Enterprise Suite (DataDirect Technologies)

            7. Development Environments

            Jolt Winner:

              • NetBeans IDE (Sun Microsystems)

              >

               Productivity Winners:
              IntelliJ IDEA (JetBrains)
              IronPython (Microsoft)
              Wolfram Workbench (Wolfram Research)

              8. Enterprise Tools

              Jolt Winner:

                • Cape Clear ESB Platform (Cape Clear Software)

                >

                Productivity Winners:

                • Liferay Portal (Liferay
                • Appistry EAF (Appistry)
                • Pentaho Open BI Suite (Pentaho)

                9. Libraries, Frameworks and Components

                Jolt Winner:

                  • NetAdvantage for .NET (Infragistics)

                  >

                  Productivity Winners:

                  • JViews (ILOG)
                  • .NET Framework 3.0 (Microsoft)
                  • Intel Threading Building Blocks (Intel)

                  10. Mobile Development Tools

                  Jolt Winner:

                    • Carbide .c++ Professional Edition (Nokia)

                    >

                    Productivity Winners:

                    • Crossfire (AppForge)
                    • NetBeans Mobility Pack and Sun Java Wireless Tookit (Sun Microsystems)
                    • Qtopia (Trolltech)

                    11. Project Management

                    Jolt Winner:

                      • Rally Enterprise (Rally Software)

                      >

                      Productivity Winners:

                      • 6th Sense Analytics (6th Sense Analytics)
                      • Teamwork (Open Lab)
                      • V1: Agile Enterprise (VersionOne)

                      12. Security

                      Jolt Winner:

                        • AppScan (Watchfire)

                        >

                        Productivity Winners:

                        • DevInspect (SPI Dynamics)
                        • Fortify Source Code Analysis (Fortify)
                        • Metasploit Framework (Metasploit)

                        13. Testing

                        Jolt Winner:

                          • AgitarOne (Agitar Software)

                          >

                          Productivity Winners:

                          • Mindreef SOAPscope (Mindreef)
                          • Parasoft SOAtest (Parasoft)
                          • TestComplete (AutomatedQA)

                          14. Bug and Defect Tracking

                          Jolt Winner:

                            • TestTrack Studio (Seapine Software)

                            >

                            Productivity Winners:

                            • JIRA (Atlassian Software Systems)
                            • OnTime 2007 (Axosoft)
                            • Software Planner Professional (Pragmatic Software)

                            15. Utilities

                            Jolt Winner:

                              • VMware Lab Manager (VMware)

                              >

                              Productivity Winners:

                              • Adobe Captivate 2 (Adobe)
                              • ElectricCommander (Electric Cloud)
                              • Textmate (MacroMates)

                              16. Web Development

                              Jolt Winner:

                                • Adobe Flex 2 (Adobe Systems)

                                >

                                Productivity Winners:

                                • IntelliJ IDEA (JetBrains)
                                • Mindreef SOAPscope Server (Mindreef)
                                • NetBeans Visual Web Pack 5.5 (Sun Microsystems)

                                17. Websites and Developer Networks

                                Jolt Winner:

                                  • Sun Developer Network (Sun Microsystems)

                                  >

                                  Productivity Winners:

                                  • CM Crossroads (CMC Media)
                                  • Koders.com (Koders)
                                  • Krugle (Krugle)

                                  HALL OF FAME

                                    • IBM developerWorks (IBM)

                                    >

Version Control Patterns?

I started to write a post on version-control patterns (“How to pack your trunk”) when I realized what a can of worms it was. Essentially, every time I wrote down “the way I’ve always done it” I realized that there were always trade-offs — that what worked in some situations wouldn’t be appropriate in others. In other words, that there really was a need for a pattern language for discussing version-control / change-management.

I’m not talking about “use version control,” which has (thankfully) become standard. I’m talking about the organizational memory of your software development team. For instance, I generally organize by deployment task — /Web, /App1, /App2, /Utilities, etc. But in a more service-oriented environment, it might definitely make more sense to organize in a more use-case driven manner: /admin, /tradingpartner1, /tradingpartner2, /internalclient1, etc.

Umm… Am I missing a well-known resource on this issue? Basically, the post quickly grew towards article length while hardly scratching the surface. I could throw up a Wiki on the topic easily enough, but I don’t want to duplicate effort. Thoughts?

Twitter for Logging?

Perhaps Twitter is the rock-and-roll of a generation that I am too old to get, but even with my vast ego, I find it inconceivable that anyone would want to receive an SMS of the minutiae of my life (“Driving to Costco,” “Taking a break and throwing some darts”).

However, every real project that I work on involves logging and developing some kind of “heartbeat monitor” for the administrators. If Twitter is easily hackable, perhaps it could be used as the infrastructure for logging. Hmm…  

Vista Mobile App Developer Contest

Thee UMPCs up for grabs in this CodeProject programming competition:

…must allow new means of input: ink, touch, and more. Build a great application that encompasses these needs, write an article about what you’ve done, and you may win one of three cool Samsung Ultra-Mobile PCs.

One winner per month, 3/15/07?6/15/07.

Hmmm…. maybe make that two UMPCs still up for grabs …

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