Gain just-in-time skills with a developerWorks skill kit

Trying to stay current with the latest trends and technologies? Are you looking to increase your skills for your next promotion or assignment? Do you sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information on the Net? You need skills and you need them now. The developerWorks skills team has heard you. In fact, we've been there and done that, too. We've come up with a way of providing IT professionals the skills they need, quickly and easily—and at no charge. We call it a skill kit, and it is based on the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP) technology. Skill kits are built using the Toolkit for Custom and Reusable Solution Information (see Resources), a technology brought to you by alphaWorks. This article describes skill kits and how you can get started using the first one available on developerWorks.

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Kevin Czap (kczap@us.ibm.com), Advisory Software Engineer, IBM, Software Group

Kevin's photoKevin Czap is an Advisory Software Engineer with ISV and Developer Relations. Kevin is working on his 19th year with IBM. Kevin has the following IBM certifications Project Management Professional, Solution Designer, Solution Advisor and Technologist. Kevin also has the following product specific certifications. Red Hat Enterprise Linux, DB2 and Rational Portfolio Manager Deployment Professional.



25 March 2009 (First published 14 January 2009)

Introduction

Figure 1. Project Zero WebSphere sMash skill kit
Project Zero WebSphere sMash skill kit

So what is a skill kit and how does it work? In a nutshell: We, at developerWorks, compile skill-related content from a wide variety of sources, such as articles, tutorials, videos, and trial software. We then organize these resources into a coherent and meaningful package designed to help you reach the desired skill objective. You'll also be able to search within the skill kit for specific information you need.

A skill kit is packaged as a zip file that you download and extract. Once the file is extracted, start the mini Web server and point your browser to it. That's it! All of your skills information is a click of the mouse away.

Multiplatform operation

Since the skill kits are written in Java™, they can run on platforms other than Windows® with some simple modifications. For example, under Linux® use the following steps:

  1. Copy the .bat files as .sh files. For example, IC_start.bat becomes IC_start.sh
  2. Use chmod to make the .sh files executable. For example: chmod +x *.sh
  3. Edit the .sh file to change the location of the java executable to what is appropriate for your environment, and change directions of slashes if necessary.

Running the .sh file rather than the .bat started the local server properly. In the browser everything else ran as described.


Skill kit in action

To see the skill kit in action, I'll walk you through the steps involved in downloading, extracting, and using the Project Zero WebSphere sMash skill kit.

  1. Download the zip file from developerWorks and place it in a directory of your choice. See Figure 2.
    Figure 2. Skill kit zip file
    Skill kit zip file
  2. Extract the contents of the zip file, as shown in Figure 3.
    Figure 3. Extracting the skill kit
    Extracting the skill kit

    After the zip file is extracted, a new directory is created. In this case the directory is called Project Zero and WebSphere sMash_package. Inside the directory are a series of files and directories that let you run the skill kit as a stand-alone Web server. See Figure 4.

    Figure 4. Project Zero and WebSphere sMash_package directory
    Project Zero and WebSphere sMash_package directory
  3. To open the skill kit, start the Web server. Double-click the IC_start.bat file. See Figure 5.
    Figure 5. IC_start.bat
    IC_start.bat file

    You should see the IC_start.bat file results, as shown in Figure 6.

    Figure 6. IC_start.bat file results
    IC_start.bat file results

Viewing the skill kit

After starting the skill kit Web server, you are ready to start using the skill kit. Point your browser to http://hostname:8888.

Note: Where the instructions refer to "http://hostname:8888", you must put in the number of the hostname of your own computer. To get the hostname for computers using Windows, type "Hostname" on a command prompt window and it will pop up. Or, right click on the my Computer icon, go to Properties, and go to the Computer name tab. In this case, the hostname is the computer name.

A Web page opens. Click Overview Project Zero in the Contents pane. See Figure 7.

Figure 7. Viewing the skill kit
Viewing the skill kit

Finding your way around the skill kit

Now that the skill kit is opened, let's take a quick tour. On the left side of the skill kit is the Contents pane. The Contents pane contains information in hierarchical format with major topics followed by subtopics. Open the topics and subtopics to see what content is included. The content can be a variety of resources such as a Web site, links to Web sites, files, RSS feeds, videos, and more. See Figure 8.

Figure 8. Skill kit organization
Skill kit organization

As you can see, the Project Zero kit starts with an Overview of Project Zero and WebSphere sMash followed by Whitepapers, Demonstrations, Related trials, and Reference. Click Project Zero home page to see a brief description of the content and a URL, as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9. Project Zero home page
Project Zero home page

Assuming you have Internet access, click the Project Zero Web page link, http://www.projectzero.org. The Project Zero Web page opens as shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10. Project Zero Web page
Project Zero Web page

The skill kit also contains a search capability. For example, if you're interested in viewing videos referenced in the skill kit related to Project Zero and WebSphere, simply type Video in the search box and click Go. See Figure 11.

Figure 11. Skill kit search capability
Skill kit search capability

The skill kit searches its list of keywords and returns the following results:

Figure 12. Search results
Search results

Maybe you are interested in installing WebSphere sMash for Eclipse. Click that video description in the Search Results window. You'll see results similar to Figure 13. This page gives a brief description of content contained on the video.

Figure 13. Video description
Video description

Just as you did in the Project Zero Web page, click the URL to launch the video. See Figure 14.

Figure 14. Launch the video
Start the video

These are just a couple of examples on how to navigate within the developerWorks skill kit. Browse around to find the information and resources to help you get your skills up to speed.


Stopping the skill kit

To stop and close the skill kit, go back to the directory that was created when you unzipped the skill kit. It's the same directory where the IC_start.bat file is located. Double-click the IC_end.bat file to stop the skill kit, and then close your browser.


Summary

The skill kit is designed to help IT professionals build specific skills and learn more about a technology through just-in-time, customized content at no charge. It's delivered through a zip file that you can easily download. After extracting and starting it, you can view the contents through a browser. You can quickly search the skill kit for relevant content on a particular skill. This content can take the form of articles, tutorials, trial software, and demos. Get started now with the developerWorks Project Zero WebSphere sMash and DB2 skill kits.


Downloads

DescriptionNameSize
IBM Project Zero WebSphere sMash skill kitprojectzero_wssmash_package.zip54MB
IBM DB2 skill kitDB2_Skills_Kit_package.zip55MB

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