Dear Bruce Eckel : Hybrid Java, Google Web Toolkit and Adobe Flex

Dear Bruce,

First up, thanks for the book. Yes I’m saying thank-you about 8 years too late. ‘Thinking in Java‘ is what got me going in the language and in my mind is one of the best Java books written (sorry Tim). Giving it away free only cemented your reputation as the Bono of the Java world. OK, Bono without the Guitar, the Stetson and with a couple of overloaded constructors thrown in, but a man of stature nonetheless.

Thinking in Java Front Cover

Secondly, I’ll forgive your flirtations with Python, on the basis that I’ve been having an affair myself with JRuby. I now understand the pain that you’ve been having at home, the endless repetitive arguments to get simple things done, and the temptation of a newer, younger, more flexible model.

So , I think you’re onto something here in your blogpost. I can feel the pain, the need to deliver Rich clients to users over the web. I think that Ruby / Google Web Toolkit / Struts 2 / Name your web toolkit has further to go than you may think , but eventually these ‘heroic efforts‘ (nice quote) will run out of steam. On the basis of your recommendation alone I’m willing to look at Adobe Flex, but I’m not sure if this is going to solve all the problems.

Now , a lot of us Java guys don’t like change (and as if you needed proof, just look at the comments on this O’Reilly blogpost on the Google API’s). All the same , we have a problem that gets worse every passing year. 6 Years ago we could have been sure that 90% of web sites were running Internet Explorer 4. Now we’ve got IE, Firefox, Safari (in all their different versions) as well as an explosion of mobile devices. The Windows Vista launch is only going to fragment things further with yet another platform to support.

No one web solution is going to display the same in all of these browsers. We’re not going to get a single solution from Microsoft / Sun / Adobe that everybody from developer to my Granny is going to install. So we’re going to have to take the ‘least bad’ route – something that looks great, but degrades gracefully to standard HTML on less capable devices. Excuse my ignorance, but I don’t know (yet) if Flex does this.

Yes Hybridizing open source Java is the starting point for the solution. Unfortunately we’ve a long way to go yet, and Flex is perhaps only inspiration along the way.

Yours sincerely

Paul

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Motorola, Logica and Irish Economy

RTE, The Idiot, Infactah, and Eirjobs are writing that Motorola all to cut it’s software jobs in Cork.

Motorola Logo

First of all, I’ve been in this sort of ‘waiting for the axe to fall‘ situation and it’s not nice. It’s not nice losing your job, and it’s not nice having to wait 6 months or so until the plant actually shuts down. It’s not nice wondering where the next mortgage payment is coming from.

In my case I was working for Dell in Dublin , when they decided to move their entire Public Sector Sales organisation to the UK (made commercial sense, couldn’t argue with the decision). The worst part was dragging yourself in to work to face your colleagues in an atmosphere of gloom – and this was when everyone was promised (and got) internal transfers.

The Irish Indo (Registration required) is reporting that this will send ‘shockwaves through the Irish software Industry‘. It’s big news , but we’ve been here before and we will be here again. Motorola axed most of it’s radio division in Swords in the late 90’s. Logica (also in the mobile Telecoms area) once employed close to 1000 in the IFSC in Dublin, but are now down to (barely) double digits.

Some anecdoes about the upside of both these major layoffs :

  • A large part of the Motorola management Team ended up working in Navan for Case (the big red tractors). While tractors may not be as sexy as phones (leave a comment if you disagree), they were a key part in getting a new Startup into the area.
  • Most of the Logica people found jobs , after a difficult interim period (this was the dot com crash after all). There now exists a ‘Logica Mafia’ that useful to tap into if want to connect to anybody in the Telecoms – Software development world.

The other interesting thing was the number of people who found jobs outside of the ‘traditional software industries. One team of ten people, had only 2 that were in software development 5 years later. The rest used their redundancy cheque to train as teachers, start their own business , travel to Australia and New Zealand …

Not a nice place to be lads. But it will get better.

Build your Web2 site quicker – Free Ruby Book

Ruby has a lot of buzz around it. The idiots version of what Ruby is:

  • It’s a programming language (like Java) that allows you to tell computers what to do.
  • Used with the Rails framework , it allows you to churn out your latest Web 2 site faster than you can pitch it to your friendly VC.

InfoQ has a good link to a Free Ruby Book that has just become available. The author of the book (Jeremy) blogs here.

Free Ruby Book Link

We have two main reasons why we’re interested in Ruby:

  1. Java is great for scalable , Enterprise systems used by thousands of people. Sometimes we just want something quick and dirty to try out an idea.
  2. If your idea proves successful , you want a migration path (i.e. not to have to throw away all your original work). Ruby gives you this as the way it is organised means it is less likely to fall into a heap (Object Orientated)
  3. So Why not PHP (the way this blog, using wordpress, is built)?  Ruby has a companion tool called JRuby. This means that you can run Ruby code anywhere you can use Java. Anything that Java can do , Ruby can do as well.

We’re also going down the free book route on Enterprise Web 2.0. Only it’s taking us a lot longer to get there. Currently the problem is a techie version of writers block.

And for our readers in Paris , a French version of our Website …

Following a conversation with Thomas of Logic Intuition (blogs in English and French), we decided to put up a French Version of our Company website.

FirstPartners.Net logo

OK , we cheated and used Google Translate.

Now, I’ve spent about 11 years studying French (it’s part of my Degree) , including living there for about 3 years. I’ve sold computers over the phone in French in one job , so I must have been ok at one stage. The scary thing is the machine does a better job than I would. The main mistakes I can find are

  • Top left of the screen , it’s translated ‘Home’ to ‘Around the house’
  • It’s translated ‘Irish Blog Awards’ to ‘Irish Blog Compensation’.

Maybe Google knows something about what Damien has planned for the night than we do?

Feed your addiction with Feedburner , MyBlogLog and Google Analytics

You’ve probably heard of Google Analytics – a free service that gives you
stats such as the charts below.

This chart shows the number of visitors (blue) and the number of pageviews (orange). Interesting that in 2 years blogging , the average of pages viewed has always been just under 2 pages per visitor).

Google Linechart
This chart (again from Google Analytics) shows the visits by source. Bit of an usual one at the moment – I would tend to get about 10% of visits each from MSN and Yahoo (not showing at the moment).

Google Piechart

Google only updates it’s stats once a day. If you’re really addicted to seeing your stats (and you really need to get out more) then feedburner updates most of its stats on an hourly basis. Feedburner not only gives you web stats similar to Google (if you’re FeedFlare enabled), but it gives you the number of people who are also reading your site via a feed – the grey box on the top right of this blog.

Feedburner Barchart
Strangely , this feed history seems to have a life of it’s own. Most people read blogs Monday to Friday , so the numbers dip at the weekend

FeedBurner Barchart

If you’re a hard core stats addict , you’ll also have MyBlogLog enabled. These give the photos on the left hand side of the blog (useful in themselves), more stats (very good for incoming / outgoing links) and a widget (see image below) that shows users the most popular outgoing links.

MyBlogLogs Outgoing