links for 2006-01-31

Watch out Java – Windows Workflow is coming!

Workflow is core to most business as it describes the core of what they do. Workflow can be as simple as ‘Search for Flights, Select Flight, Pay, Recieve Email confirmation’, to something much more complex (e.g. a Mortgage application). Many systems already have workflow in them, only they don’t know it. The problem is then that the Business People (who understand the workflow) can’t see how it is implemented in (hidden behind code), while the technical people don’t understand the business process. Workflow (closely related to Rule Engines) aim to solve this problem.

I recently attended an Irish .Net Developers presentation by Aiden O’Connor(long story), about the new Windows Workflow, currently in Beta as part of Microsoft .Net. While workflow in Enterprise Java is nothing new (Serverside Article), the implementation of Workflow in Visual Studio will bring it’s ideas to a wider audience, and force the Java workflow people to ‘raise their game’.

So, why should you be interested in Windows Workflow?

  1. Visual Studio has always had ‘Drag and Drop’ building of Systems. Now it will also have ‘Drag and Drop’ flowcharts (it looks a bit like Visio or other drawing tools). When the process hits a stage an Event is triggered and appropriate code called (e.g. similar to a mouse click on a form).
  2. It is likely that Business Analysts will use a Visual design tool to draw up the workflow. Programmers will then handle events at each stage in the workflow – a much easier process as they just have to concentrate on a single step, and not worry (so much) about the bigger picture.
  3. Long lived workflows and processes can be handled easily. For example, if we have issued the ticket and are waiting for the customer to check in (weeks later), state will be persisted automatically.
    It brings the workflow ideas from a niche to a wider audience. Even the Java based frameworks will benefit from this.

  1. It is part of the .Net framework – the equivalent in the Java world of it coming free with the JVM. It will run anywhere .Net does, and one workflow can span multiple machines (this was buggy in the beta, but it is a known issue).

Give your input into the Web 2.0 Presentation

I’ve been invited to do a Web 2.0 presention to the Irish Dev / Irish Internet Association (it’s on the 21st Feb in the Morgan Hotel , Dublin, if you’re about in Ireland that day).

So, we have a problem. I consider myself to know a little about Web 2.0, but nobody knows everything about it, even the great Tim O’Reilly and his famous definition of Web 2.0. You might as well try and record every conversation happening in a busy room. I thought I would ask the community.

The Audience is tricky, as it is partly business (to whom Web 2.0 = next dot com boom) and partly technical (to whom Web 2.0 = Ajax) – for the record , I consider both views wrong. We also have only 30 minutes , including a (very quick) demo of how easy it is to migrate to Ajax (based on this Java.net article). A lot of the business concepts will be at the level of this article that I wrote for Ireland’s Business Plus magazine.

So, I have some notes on the Web 2.0 presentation taking shape over on the Knowledgebase. To cater for the technical side, we’ll probably (quickly) cover some of the Ajax Enabled Java Frameworks (summary of these here).

What do you think? How can I inject a cold dose of reality into this Web 2.0 business? Leave your comments below , or Contact me via this form.

Everything you know about the web is wrong

Yes, form an orderly queue for autographs – the article in Business Plus magazine is finally available in the February edition (currently in Newsagents). It’s called ‘Everything you know about the Web is wrong’ and tries to introduce some of the concepts behind Ajax to a wider Audience.

Now, if you’re too tight to buy the magazine , or you’re living outside Ireland , this blog entry tells you how to download it. Mind you, you’ll miss out on the lovely photo of me. Want something more technical? Try this article I wrote for Sun’s Java website on for size.

While you’re at it, book your place to see me deliver a presentation on Web 2.0 – it’s part of the Irish Dev / Irish Internet Association Event on the 21st February at the Morgan Hotel in Dublin. All comments (especially giving a cold dose of reality amid all the hype) are welcome.

All shameless self publicity.