Archive for August, 2005

Slashdot pointed me to this LinuxWatch article on five reasons not to use the Linux operating system. Here’s a sample:

Reason number one: Linux is too complicated

Even with the KDE and GNOME graphical windowing interfaces, it’s possible — not likely, but possible — that you’ll need to use a command line now and again, or edit a configuration file.

Compare that with Windows where, it’s possible — not likely, but possible — that you’ll need to use a command line now and again, or edit the Windows registry, where, as they like to tell you, one wrong move could destroy your system forever.

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I must admit when I first saw the headline for this Slashdot article, I thought to myself “serves them right, ’bout time they suffered from the security holes in their own products”.

However, the article was not about the latest worm to exploit an NT vulnerability, but was about a Microsoft employee or contractor who brought a case of the measles back from a trip abroad.

Now this really hits close to home, since I once started an outbreak of measles at Baylor University as a freshman computer science major in 1982.

Apparently, The CDC was preparing to announce that measles had been eradicated in the U.S. later that Fall. However, I returned from a medical mission trip to Honduras and brought an epidemic of the rubeola or measles back with me. Several hundred of my classmates (including my future wife) contracted the viral infection. The case was even written up in several medical journals (see footnote 3).

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I’ve been a huge fan of GoogleMaps since it was released a few months ago. I’ve even been willing to forgive it for providing directions to my house which route guests all over the neighborhood before finally arriving.

As we’ve come to expect from Google, they provide the GoogleMaps API which allows you to use GoogleMaps to display mapping data on your website.

Click here to view a page from the Conneva web server that displays a GoogleMap of Evergreen Lake near my home.

The map centers and zooms on a lat/long point and displays a single marker. Clicking on the marker displays information about the point, in this case, Evergreen Lake.

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Google launched a new IM service today called, of course, GoogleTalk. It works with the Google-provided client as well as other IM clients such as GAIM, TrillianPro and the Mac-based iChat.

My username is “Conneva”. Give me a shout.

google_talk.jpg

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I’m just getting around to reading Ed Burnette’s great article summarizing the recent developments in Eclipse 3.1 (hat tip Ben Booth).

In four short years since Eclipse exploded onto the scene, it has come to dominate the Java IDE landscape. User groups have sprouted up around the world, and hundreds of books and articles have been written about it (two dozen in Japanese alone!). Eclipse 3.1 is the culmination of a year’s worth of development effort on features such as J2SE5 support, performance improvements, and rich clients. If that weren’t enough, it will be the base of the next wave of software releases from the Eclipse Foundation and its partners. Whether you’re a programmer trying to build the next Killer App or an entrepreneur building a business model on open source, this is an exciting time to be involved with Eclipse.

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Nathan Lee is on a roll. In today’s post he lists a few tools that are in his “toolkit” on every webMethods Integration Server project.

With webMethods and creating mechanisms, I tend to find that the following “toolkit” of things are quite useful:

  • an “invokeService” java service (that is: a service that takes in the pipeline and the service name you want to invoke and makes a call to invoke it)
  • specifications (not used that much in normal day to day stuff, but the equivalent of a java interface in webMethods.. defines the inputs/outputs of a service so that you provide an implementation of a certian operation)
  • properties management services (to allow you to have configuration files that you change a few properties to alter the way the mechanism works)
  • Wrapper documents (they allow you to wrap up your payload and add metadata to the document)
  • Knowledge of the IData and IDataCursor and java services (in order to be able to directly play around with the pipeline, moving beyond what is capable using flow alone).
  • knowledge of the ServerAPI and Service utility objects in the webMethods API (these give you access to some of the extra stuff you need to know about what’s going on with execution)

So what tools are in your toolkit? Add your comments on Nathan’s blog.

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Nathan Lee is venturing abroad (from Sydney) and digging into the early stages of a new project. He shares some thoughts on what it means to “engine-ify” an integration project here.

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In a recent post on his “Bliki“, Martin Fowler commeted:

Whenever ThoughtWorks rashly lets me out in front of a client,
one question I’m bound to be asked is “what do you think of SOA
(Service Oriented Architecture)?” It’s a question that’s pretty much
impossible to answer because SOA means so many different things to
different people.

  • For some SOA is about exposing software through web
    services. This crowd further sub-divides into those that expect the
    various WS-* standards and those that will accept any form of XML
    over http (and maybe not even XML).
  • For some SOA implies an architecture where applications
    disappear. Instead you have core services that supply business
    functionality and data separated by UI aggregators that apply
    presentations that aggregate together the stuff that core services
    provide.
  • For some SOA is about allowing systems to communicate over
    some form of standard structure (usually XML based) with other
    applications. In it’s worse form this is “CORBA with angle
    brackets”. In more sophisticated forms this involves coming up with
    some form of standard backbone for an organization and getting
    applications to work with this. This backbone may or may not involve
    http.
  • For some SOA is all about using (mostly) asynchronous messaging to
    transfer documents between different systems. Essentially this is
    EAI without all the expensive EAI vendors locking you in.

I’ve heard people say the nice thing about SOA is that it
separates data from process, that it combines data and process, that
it uses web standards, that it’s independent of web standards, that
it’s asynchronous, that it’s synchronous, that the synchronicity
doesn’t matter….

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Ajax is a technology that I have bumped into a few times over the last several months, but haven’t (yet) needed to learn in my normal course of work.

According to it’s Wikipedia entry, Ajax or Asynchronous JavaScript And XML is a standardized approach to building rich client applications that depends on having a service-oriented architecture of some sort to provide the business logic.

Slashdot alerted me to a recent Dion Hinchcliffe post, in which he writes that

Ajax is a web client programming style which eschews traditional HTML web pages, which are only sprinkled lightly with JavaScript and reload pretty much every time they are updated or clicked on. Instead, an Ajax web client receives an Ajax JavaScript library into a hidden frame which provides run-time visuals on the main browser window that look and feel very much like a native application. Ajax web clients, once loaded, communicate with XML services on the back end (via a browser’s built-in powerful XMLHttpRequest API), and then use JavaScript to manipulate what the users sees programmatically via DHTML.

All of this allows Ajax to provide a compelling user experience because 1) it doesn’t reload the web page, and 2) it runs asynchronously allowing background server-side requests for information to be issued, all while the users clicks, types, and otherwise interacts with the application in the foreground. Google Maps is the pre-eminent example of a modern Ajax application: rich, interactive, easy-to-use, and predictive in that it loads the map tiles that are just offscreen in case you need them.

Don concludes

As Ajax proves to be the application model that allows compelling composite applications to be developed quickly, I expect that 2006 will be the year that Ajax emerges as both a key driver of SOA architecture (important: because, without a SOA, there can be no Ajax applications, by definition) and a must-have application development model.

I hear that Ajax support is on the agenda for inclusion in a future version of webMethods Portal. When combined with webMethods Integration Server, developers can already quickly create web-based applications using services exposed from any back-end application or platform. I look forward to seeing the applications that could be created using a Portal-on-Ajax version and the already strong SOA capability of webMethods IS.

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Mark Griffin noticed a new open-source Enterprise Service Bus entry called ServiceMix 1.0.

Another open-source ESB enters the mix. These are becoming more numerous. None of these are of the quality or feature set of a webMethods or Tibco. But will they eventually put any pressure on the pure play vendors? Only time will tell but certainly something to watch.

So who will be the JBoss of the ESB space and what will that do to the existing providers of ESB tools? While I would certainly see a negative impact on the traditional integration players like webMethods, Tibco and IBM, I would suggest that the impact wouuld be greater on new entrants to the ESB / SOA space who get 100% of their revenue from that sector and who lack the sales or VC funding to keep going in the wave of comparable open-source functionality.

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