Grabbing people's brains and shoving them into a PC

It didn’t go down too well when an elderly relative asked me over Christmas ‘what exactly do you do?’. After fobbing him off with the usual ‘something in computers’, he was shocked to find out that I spend most of my time ‘Grabbing people’s brains and shoving them into a PC’.

This kind of blog-related-violence is normally associated with Twenty-Major (Warning , Parential Guidance required , unless you’re over 80), so before you call the police , let me explain.

Look at your hands. Unless they’re scarred and calloused (from the weekend’s DIY) the chances are that you work in the knowledge economy. You could work for a Bank , Insurance company, Legal company or be a medical professional but most of your work consists of one thing:  You push pieces of paper around that have some magical value.
Or you would push pieces of paper around if it hadn’t all been computerised in the last 10 years. Now you swap files and emails to get things done.  And you swear on a regular basis when the computer can’t find the information you’re looking for, or someone doesn’t understand the email you sent them. But the important bit, the information processing,  still remains in your brain.
Red Piranha Logo

Which brings us to Red-Piranha (site update in progress) and the shoving of people’s brains into a computer. While we can copy an MP3 music file (with Adam’s and Bono’s imagination in it) and send it around the world, but we can’t photocopy your brain. We don’t want all of it, just the part that gets the magical value-added work done. The bits about drinking beer and playing volleyball on the beach we’ll quite happily leave with you.

So this is what Enterprise Web 2.0 is all about : getting the computer to take a load off your brain so that you’ll have more time to spend on the beach drinking beer. Chapter 3 (draft) of our Enerprise Web book has just been put online, which shows you exactly how to do this.

Enterprise Web 2.0 – Free Book

I’ll blog about it in more detail later, but I’ve just posted the first chapter of the Enterprise Web 2.0 book online. It is being written as a dissertation for the Msc. in Advanced Software Engineering in UCD , Dublin. The working title is ‘Financial knowledge capture using Rules , Workflow, Search and Enterprise Web 2.0‘.

Red Piranha Logo

To kill 4 birds with one stone, It also serves as a manual to the updated Red-Piranha project.[link to old website (search only). New website in progress] .

Business Process Management is Service Orientated Architectures Killer Application

Ismael Ghalimi has put it in a nutshell:

BPM is Soaps Killer Application

  • BPM or Business Process Management , is the art / science of capturing what your staff actually do in an IT system (and hopefully help them do their job better in the process).
  • SOA or Service Orientated Architecture is designing your system as a set of endpoints (e.g. Login, get bank balance, transfer money, logout). Most systems already have this functionality, although maybe not clearly laid out.

Ismael goes into more detail , but the idea is that BPM (think Visio Diagram) allows you to draw your workflow. Each step on the workflow is carried out put an action / endpoint provided by some system (using the SOA type design).

25,000 People Download Mans Brain from Internet

Yes, it’s incredible , but true. Red Piranha is everything (well , not exactly everything) that I’ve learnt in 7 years of Java consulting, all wrapped up in a nice easy to go bundle. It’s Enterprise software that gets knowledge out of people’s heads and into a PC (no , it’s not as painful as it sounds!).
Red Piranha Fish Logo

I hadn’t checked the stats for a while , so I’m astonished to learn that 25,000 people have downloaded a copy from sourceforge. What’s more amazing is that these downloads are for version 1 – a sort of ‘mini Google’. As I write this post the latest (beta) version is being made available to developers. This moves it firmly into the Enterprise Web 2.0 space, adding workflow, rules and rich internet application capabilities (including Ajax and mashups) – more on this blogpost.

By the way , if you’re looking for more information on Enterprise Web 2.0 , you can check out Jerry Bowles blog on this area.

And the results of the Virtual Java Meetup are …

And the results of the Virtual Java Meetup are … here. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

If you couldn’t be bothered reading the entire thing , the results of the Dublin Jury on ‘what technologies should I be learning in the next 12 months’ are:

  • Web services are going to be big, but only if they can be simple.
  • EJB 3 and Netbeans are both worth taking a look at again, they are now much better than the previous versions that gave them a bad name.
  • Middleware (e.g. workflow and Rules Engines) are interesting in a corporate environment, but there is a high barrier to entry.
  • Struts , and to a lesser extent JSF , will continue to be dominant Java Web frameworks, despite not being the best technical choice.
  • A lot of companies are still using Java 1.4, but may make the leap to Java 6 (Mustang).
  • Service Orientated Architecuture (SOA) is a nice idea, but not so many projects have been implemented using it.
  • IDE’s (Netbeans / Eclipse / JDeveloper) can deliver a lot of value, but only if backed up by lower level tools (e.g. Ant and Maven).
  • More for the next 24 months , keep an eye on Apache Service Mix.

Red Piranaha Enterprise Java Framework

Stub article – more to follow

Writing for O'Reilly Books

Over the last couple of months, been working on a series of Articles for O’Reilly (online) . The articles are on J2EE / Drools (more later) , but it’s been an interesting process – about 4 weeks total effort (if you count it as a day job, in reality it was spread over many evenings and weekends).

The staff at O’Reilly have been very helpful – even if I went about the process backwards (whereas normally you pitch a couple of paragraphs as a summary , then get go-ahead to do the full article). The hardest / most tedious part was formatting the article in simple html , given that it was initally written using Word / OpenOffice.

The Article will be publish on OnJava in the next couple of days , source code for the article can be downloaded here.

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