Google Spreadsheets Mean the end of Java

Or to be more accurate ‘Google Spreadsheets mean the end of Java as we know it’.
Google Spreadsheets Logo
Think about this. Who pays your wages Mr Java-Developer-who-has-just-had-a-couple-of-years-at-the-top-of-the-pile? Clients, or if you’re in a larger organisation , the business folks (i.e.’internal’ clients). Do you think any of them care about Java? Do any of them know what Java is? All they want is to get things done, quickly , and with as few mistakes as possible.

These business people would be happy to run their organisations on Spreadsheets. Do you remember the cartoon where Dilbert convinced the pointy haired boss that he could fly the plane using Excel? There’s more than a element of truth to this. I know of at least one US Fortune 100 company that (until recently) conducted most of it’s operations on little more than Microsoft Office and duct-tape. It worked, not very well, but it worked.

Until now , the next line would be ‘Excel (or any other type of Spreadsheet) is not secure / scalable / sharable / not web friendly’. That was until Google launched their Docs and Speadsheets. It’s an online version of Office with some spreadsheet functionality. Play with it a bit and you’ll see that there’s plenty missing. But this being Google , I’m willing to put good money on

  • (a) new features rolled out (think steamroller) and
  • (b) These Spreadsheets being massivly scalable / secure / sharable.

This being Google, there is also an API (developer page here). It’s got massive holes in it (e.g. you can’t yet use it to create a new spreadsheet). But when Microsoft bring out their version of online spreadsheets (and they will) not only will they clone the Google API (to get market share), they’ll need to go one further and introduce new features / remove the usage restrictions in order to compete.

So, secure, scalable, sharble online spreadsheets are here to stay. So lets take a look at Mr. (or Ms.) Pointy haired boss thinking about their new project:

  1. Hmm, I think we need to be able to gather which health plans our employees are enrolled in.
  2. OK, I’ll throw together a spreadsheet to show people what I want
  3. Before I’ll give to our friendly Java developer and let him ‘do’ a website from it.
    Soon I’ll just share this on Google.
  4. Great , Loads of people are now using it, I’ll just the (Ruby / PHP / Insert other language here) guy to add one or two extra features.
  5. Most Excellent. Why don’t we spin this off as a Web 2 company and sell it to EBay??

There you have it, Massively scalable , Highly secure websites (see Google Authentication API), without needing to know anything about EJB, JMX , JBoss, JDBC or any of the hard won knowledge that us Enterprise Java Developers have built up over the last 7-8 years. I’m exaggerating, but not much.

What do you think? Is Enterprise Java dead, or is Web 2 just another boost and a slightly different way of doing things for us Java people?

Other Java Posts from Technology in Plain English

Some other notes:

This article was originally published on the O’Reilly books OnJava Website.

Alternative nominations – 2007 Irish Blog Awards

For the consideration of the Academy , here are our Irish Blog Award nominations. We may or may not vote for them (!), but I’d like the Irish Blogging public to consider some of the alternatives to the usual big A-List bloggers (who are fairly safe to get nominated anyway :-). Also pretty sure to be nominated are last years award winners. Now , if only I can figure out how to work the award nomination form ….

Blog Awards Logo

  • Best Blog Post – David McWilliams on something even more important than blogging (!) the impending property market crash.
  • Most Humorous Post – Bifsnif. For having the best cartoons available on the web , of which this is only one sample.
  • Best Photo Blog – Ireland from a Polish perspective. Not a dedicated photo blog, but the images are as good as any that I’ve seen on the web.
  • Best Blog – Red Cardinal. He’s angling for the ‘Best Newcomer’ spot, but I think he’s worthy of ‘Best Blog’ consideration (a) Because he’s got good content and style and (b) He blogs about something relevant to all bloggers – how to get noticed by Google.
  • Best Political Blog – Dominic Hannigan. You may or may not agree with his politics (Labour), but he’s one of earliest politicians to blog, and deserves kudos for his suggestion to mail dog s**t to the Meath county manager.
  • Best Group Blog – IQ content who have just been accepted into the 9Rules network (a sure sign of blog quality if ever there was one)
  • Best Personal Blog – The Swearing Lady. But only because I’m afraid of her.
  • Best Use of the Irish Language in a Blog2 Years in a row for Conn? , even if an lionra has just ended. Damien has just told me that you can’t both sponsor and be up to win the award. I suppose it would be a bit awkward for the photo’s.
  • Best Contribution to the Irish BloggersphereDamien Mulley. He stuck his neck out and organised the 2006 Irish blog awards when nobody was sure it was going to take off. Despite the huge increase in workload, He’s organising the 2007 awards.
  • Best Technology Blog/Blogger (you mean, apart from ourselves 🙂 Justin Mason. A one man anti-Spam fighting machine. Kudos for his work on Spam Assasin ,but he’s also quite a good technical writer.
  • Best Designed Blog – Ken McGuire(Creative Imaginations). A very visually appealing blog, andmanages to get a lot of information and content across without appearing cluttered. AFAIK Ken doesn’t do freelance word press work , but if he did , you’d want him to design your blog for you.
  • Best Specialist Blog – Brian Honan, Security Watch. You mightn’t know it from his blog, but Brian does have a personality :-). A single minded dedication to security makes his blog a ‘must read’ for anybody who uses a PC.
  • Best Newcomer – A lot of the people that are newcomers , don’t look like newcomers (i.e. the quality of the blog is so good you thing they’ve been blogging forever). Perhaps this list might give you a few suggestions. My vote goes to Pat at Roam4Free.
  • Best Business Blog – McGarr Solicitors. Maybe not the best business blog, but worthy of your consideration as one of the first traditional (i.e. non tech business) bloggers out there.

We’re not nominating Best Music / Best Podcast / Best Podcaster / Best Videocast / Best Arts and Culture blogs. Maybe we should get out more.

More Posts on the Irish Blog Awards.

Update: With Conn out of the way perhaps Blunt Cogs could be the surprise Entrant. No, somebody else is going to have to nominate them.

Get ready for the Google Tsunami

A good rule of thumb is : if it’s covered in the Economist Magazine, then it’s just about to go business mainstream. When you’re evaluating new technologies you neither want to be too early (with a high risk of betting on the wrong horse), or too late (and miss the boat). The economist = mainstream rule of thumb has been true for trivial things such the Internet, Open Software , Agile Project development, Web 2.0 and Blogging.

So , this article in the Dec 19th – Jan 2nd Edition (tagline ‘Consumer technologies are invading corporate computing’) should make you sit up and take notice.

Economist Google Invaders

Basically, it states that such Web 2 mainstays such as WebMail (from Google) as well as Google’s Office replacements (for Word and Excel) are ready for the corporate mainstream. Introduced by employees familarity with these tools in the consumer market, the reason for their adoption will be financial : by specialising in these areas , Google can provide what were formerly in house desktop applications quicker , faster , cheaper and more reliable than any other provider (e.g. Microsoft) and better than the in house IT teams.

The 2 points that I take from this are:

  • ‘Software as a Service’ (i.e. something you get over the web , rather than in a shrink-wrapped box) has finally reached the tipping point. It’s a similar moment (with equal opportunities) to when the internet first arrived, or the move from Dos (text based computers) to Windows (Graphics and mouse).
  • With the amount of Viruses in existence, it can be argued that web based applications are now more secure than anything running on a PC. Google is a bit like Ryanair , the low cost Irish Airline, in this regard. One major crash and the damage to their reputation would put them out of business. Do you get the same ‘paranoid about safety and security’ feeling when looking at the average consumer PC?

An example of this trend is FirstPartners.net email. We could manage it ourselves, but allowing Google Apps for Your Domain to do it for us allows us to get on with doing things that clients will pay us for.

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.

What is this barcamp thing anyway?

Derek Organ is brave enough to ask the question below about the Barcamp Ireland unconference. He’s deeply involved with Web 2.0 startup 1time.ie, so we know he’s not thick! I’m writing this post, as Enterprise Ireland recently posted an invite to everybody that was at the Web 2 Ireland get together, and I can just picture the people there scratching their heads and wondering ‘What is this Barcamp thing anway?‘.

Dereks’ Question:

I’ve never been to one of these events but I’d love to go there and show off our own web 2.0 product and also see what other people are at in ireland. I’m struggling at the moment though to figure out exactly how the the day will be formated. As in who talks, organizes etc? I’m sure they work but i wonder could anyone share there experience if they have been to one. What usually happens?

So, below are the answers the top questions I had before attending. Yes, the answers are strange, but yes, the whole thing seems to work.

1) Where is the event going to be held? At the time of writing , it’s going to be in Dublin, Cork, Galway or Waterford. Yes, it makes it slightly difficult to book accomadation, but hopefully a consensus will be arrived at soon. In general , Barcamp is dependant on people ‘donating’ a place to meetup. For example , last Octobers Techcamp Ireland was held in the Northside Civic Centre , Dublin.
2) When is the event on? This appears to be a little clearer, with current opinion favouring Saturday the 23rd September.

3) Who should attend? Anybody with a passion for the uses of technology – not just geeks in the traditional sense of the word, but people who can string two sentences together and still get excited about new possibilities.
4) How do I get invited? You invite yourself. Go to this page on the Barcamp site , and add your name to the list (click on the ‘edit page’ button on the top left). Yes it’s one of those web pages that everybody and anybody can edit (a wiki). In exchange for you being trusted to change the page, please don’t go mad with it.

5) How do I get in touch with the organiser? The organiser is you. I understand this may come as a bit of a shock, but at least you have about 30 other people (at the last count) to help you out. The wiki (see point 4) is what makes it all come together – the more you put in, the more you get out of it.

6) What will people be talking about? Anything that interests you. The current list is on the wiki, and first timers are actively encouraged to sign up to speak – not as a sales pitch, but if you genuinely think you have something useful to share.

If you’re looking for more information, you could do worse than check out the people that have already blogged about the event:

And by way of apology to Derek for damning him with faint praise , here is his company logo – well worth checking out.

onetime logo