Monday, November 26, 2007

Celesstin Project Alumni LinkedIn Group

Celesstin is a system that converts mechanical engineering drawings into a format suitable for CAD, that has been developed in the early nineties.

I encourage all alumni from the Celesstin Project (I, II, III and IV) to join this group.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


In the recent announcement for Spring Framework 2.5, I have been struck by the following line:

Officially certified WebSphere support

I think this is a very positive unfoldment in the Spring and BEA joint adventure. From a technical standpoint, the Pitchfork project was already very appealing, thanks to the seamless integration of Spring with Weblogic, providing all the goodness of the first at the core of the latter (instead of the usual "on top of JEE" deployment model).

Moreover, for developers, being able to benefit from Spring was a good way to restore the somewhat tainted "coolness" of a such traditional platform like Weblogic. Moreover, it is interesting to compare BEA's move to the one of JBoss, the hippest application server of that time. Indeed, JBoss passive-aggressive relationship with Spring has been, and still is, instrumental in making developers reconsider their commitment to this application server.

This newly announced certified support will ring a bell at management level, especially in the risk-averse prime market of Weblogic (financial and insurance institutions), where using an open source framework, as excellent it is, is very often frown upon (on the other hand, pragmatism is also a characteristic of such a clientele, especially in the UK, explaining the successful commitment of VOCA to Spring).

How this official support will materialize will be critical to the eventual success of this partnership, especially knowing the usually poor support vendors offer to their clients compared to the one they can get from open source projects.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Eclipse Default Key Mapping Request

Every time I install Eclipse, I have to bind "Refactor > Extract Constant" to Control+Alt+C or the equivalent with the funny Mac keys.

This refactoring is really common and I think it ought to be in the default mappings of Eclipse.

Am I the only one thinking so?

Recently Read

I have read this book cover to cover in just a few commute trips: it is indeed a fascinating reading to discover the ingenuity that hackers employ to abuse on-line games, sometimes for profit, often for fun, and the privacy-invading counter-measures games companies put in place. An eye opener for anyone playing on-line games who would not be willing to share all his private information with vendors.

A very good introduction to Erlang, which really invites you to start building resilient and parallel applications. I was amazed to see the similarity between Erlang's pattern matching philosophy and RuleML's.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Moral Code 2.0?

Should software developers have a moral code about their coding? ThoughtWorks says yes, according to eWeek's "Toward a Discussion of Morality and Code" article.

Anything new here? Not for any member of the IEEE, as its Code of Ethics clearly puts forward values that constitute an inspiring moral code.

So is it worth mentioning ThoughtWorks position? Certainly, because our industry needs thought leaders that establish credible models to follow. Why is this? Maybe because software development is one of the rare professional field where someone can read a "Teach Yourself" book and proclaim to be a specialist the week after.

Nor surprisingly, this practice of over inflating skills is not rare and often even encouraged by software consulting firms, in order to seduce clients and secure contracts. Hence, an interesting question to ask Mr.
Singham back is: Should software consulting firms have a moral code about their developers?

His answer might also teach a lesson for others.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Root of the Rot

I recently had to satisfy a pretty simple feature request for one my projects: to be able to reload part of its configuration at run time. Not a big deal, right? Well, not exactly. In fact, I have been amazed by the impact such a simple change had on the system, if not as a whole, at least in all the critical sections of it.

It is well known that applications tend to rot after time (i.e. after changes have been made to them) but, up to this recent feature request, I was unsure of the the actual cause of this rot.

Application rot comes from the chaotic relief of the tension created by changes that induce changes in fundamentals and invariants. This chaotic relief increases the software entropy, as software quality and maintainability principles get violated.

As I was implementing the aforementioned new feature, the tension on the application was causing its design, its thread safeness and its clarity to degrade at a distressing speed. I was going fast, but not. Fortunately, my alarm bell was ringing loud and clear and, after reverting to the latest head revision, I started again with a holistic plan that was taking care of not increasing the entropy of the application.

During this I have noted that nowadays:
  • Tools are efficient in helping us keeping the entropy low (FindBugs and Checkstyle were shaking their heads about some bad stuff I was doing),
  • Libraries are now rich enough to help mitigating changes that can compromise thread safety (think Java Concurrency or Intel Threading Building Blocks),
  • Industry luminaries have preached the need of elevated professional standards enough to make us become conscious of software rot when it happens (the bell goes on).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Will Find Your Bugs... Tomorrow

I have just upgraded to the latest version of the Findbugs Eclipse Plugin ( and landed in a terrible world of sluggishness.

The new version of the plug-in is so slow on my machine (a 10 months old Mac Book Pro with 2GB of RAM, running Eclipse Europa) that I had to reverse to the previous version of the plug-in ( I did not consider canceling the auto-run feature of Findbugs because I do not want to forget to run it: this is one of the interesting aspects of this plugin (without this option, I would simply uninstall the plug-in a rely on the Maven report that contains the same information).

Maybe the issue is visible because my project has a little more than 80 dependencies (the joys of open source). But the previous version was fast enough so something has probably went bonkers in the latest release of this very useful plug-in.

Any other one out there facing the same issue?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Back to Humans

This month issue of Computer runs an article titled "Generation 3D: Living in Virtual Worlds", which ends up predicting that virtual 3D worlds could become pervasive in our lives by 2047. I must admit that, as cool as living a virtual life in an MMORPGs sounds to a geek like me, I am frightened by the implication for our societies.

If our avatars become the main mental projection of our psyches and if our disincarnate-selves become our main subject of concerns, what would happen to such fragile things like the environment, democracy or compassion ?

Will it matter to the "generation 3D" if the Earth must be over-exploited to produce enough energy for powering the zillions of servers hosting their fantasy worlds?

Will it matter to them if their countries turn into police states where their only liberties will be virtual, abandoning the ideals that founding fathers and thinkers of the past had for mankind?

And finally will it matter at all if others will be left out dying of cold or hunger at the fringe of the digital society?

Was Queen prophetic?