Tuesday, October 17, 2006

TIOBE Programming Community Index

Reading a summary of Linux news from Oreilly. I discovered this site rating programming language popularity: TIOBE Programming Community Index.

Funny page to see with trends etc. The article pinpointed the appearance of Ruby among the mainstream languages.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Introduction to the Google Web Toolkit

Since a couple of weeks I am looking at the Google Web Toolkit (GWT). I think there is a lot to say about this piece of software and I will try to share my experiences and opinions about it.

What it is? Simply said, it is a set of API and utilities that enables you to write Java programs that can be converted by a special compiler into Javascript! So GWT makes your code runnable into the most recent browsers without requiring the user to install a plug-in (assuming Javascript is enabled).

GWT belongs to the family of AJAX technologies (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) that are becoming common for building applications on the web. Using AJAX, the user’s experience is closer to a “normal” software utilization than web pages surfing. Local processing by the Javascript gives more interactive applications and avoids the entire page reloading syndrome.

A first remark, although the term is recent, AJAX is everything but new from a technology perspective.

Why converting Java into Javascript versus writing Javascript code directly?

  • you develop in one language (good for me, I have always difficulties mixing languages).
  • you can easily cross-debug in one debugger – GWT fits well into Eclipse – in a so called hosted mode.
  • you benefits from the Java compiler and syntax controller tools.

So only goods in GWT?

  • Only a subset of the Java runtime is available and developers have to learna new set of objects of interface programming – one more: it is not Java Server Face, it is not Swing nor SWT. Well, it is GWT.
  • Because it is Javascript and requires the compiler, forget about transferring serializable objects from a server to the client.
  • You have great debugging, but what you debug (Java in hosted mode) is not what you deploy to your users (code compiled into Javascript running in various Browsers).

Next I will explain you a bit my first experience with GWT…

Friday, October 13, 2006

Goodbye Delphi

Yesterday, we changed our company web site. The time of our Delphi based services offering is over with the remaining mention “end of life”. May be, we should do a farewell party. Yes, it is time to say goodbye Delphi, BDE, ClientDataset and beloved Data modules…

Simply said, finding Delphi jobs is becoming difficult and built with Delphi is more an issue than an argument…

When we started using it, we loved its clean Pascal syntax, the easy database connection, the data bound components and the overall RAD approach. Productivity was much better than with C++ and the language was largely exceeding what was possible with VB.

So, why leaving such a perk for things that are not obviously better and surely not simpler?

I could discuss during hours, about facts, and stories like absence of compatibility between releases, competition from VB or C#, price, poor support, stretched and wacky documentation, mysterious BDE options, clueless examples, numerous way of doing the same thing in one tool (DB, internet controls etc), features that revealed to be demo versions of third party offering. But I think the main reason is Inprise strategy and focus towards inappropriate marketing techniques. Selling compilers and IDE does not follow marketing recipes applicable to public electronic or ice-cream.

Delphi will remain known for its complicated and arbitrary product ranges segmentation. In my opinion this was more a sign of inability to price properly the entrance into a development ecosphere than anything else - provided somebody heard there what was an ecosphere for software developers. This also led them to add more features that could differentiate between versions– yet without improving the base useful functions… All that for a price difference near 1 to 10!

There must be somewhere a marketing school for corporate products name changing! Borland people, attended the class for sure. Once was Turbo Pascal, then Delphi (why not Turbo Pascal for Windows) then Kylix (Delphi for Linux) and now they are just popping out Turbo Delphi! Sorry I will not wait for Turbo Kylix on Windows. One the same road, the company name moved from Borland to Inprise then a year later they changed back calling the development products Borland from Inprise… Does this make selling IT products? I think no.

All these efforts were spent instead of asking developers what they needed to push Delphi in their offers and trying to consider them as partners. It is a shame to see such good stuff wasted for nuts. This is not a première unfortunately; remember Sprint, Turbo Pascal, Paradox, Report Smith…

One great mistake in my opinion is probably Kylix. I remember a marketing session where they explained us that Delphi was so tight to Windows that it would never run on anything else! A few years later we had a Delphi clone running on Linux - Kylix. So the impossible became possible.

Yessssss, that was nice to see and helped us a bit selling Delphi with the argument that it would be possible to port code easily from Windows to Kylix.

Unfortunately it turns out quickly that we had to rewrite everything with new components! While these components were based on the Qt set that runs virtually on anything with a screen and a keyboard, nobody though about supporting MAC OS or extending the range of supported Unixes. Instead they put the price of the product so high that they could not sell one box (at least I don’t know somebody who spent money on it). Finally they concluded there was no interest for the product. Then they bundled Kylix with another version of Delphi and finally remove it… That’s how a key differentiator between Delphi and VB vanished! And Linux still miss a good RAD product…

Honestly I think that supporting a clean emulation like Wine on Linux would have been enough to help tremendously Delphi developers promoting their tool and skills. Others will continue regretting the almost unaffordable Kylix pricing while on Linux most development tools are free!

So, goodbye old buddy, it is time to move on and one more thing – I will never regret this @![ù£ of TeamSource!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Welcome on fairITale

Welcome on this Blog

Findig a name is always difficult. At least FairITale sounds funny for a native french speaking trying to write in English.

I am poking computer systems since 1979. This was long, long time ago when 16K of ram was considered a fair amount of memory - yet trolls and witches were already gone. Since that time I am following a non conventional IT carreer path, ruling my own business, sniffing technologies and trying to be as useful as possible.

So, let me share a few thoughs with you on this web space... I hope you will enjoy these little chronicles.