If you haven't yet heard about the efforts to bring an open-source approach to patents that will improve their quality, I encourage you to read Irving Wladawsky-Berger's related blog entry, "Improving Patent Quality as a Community
," which aptly describes this initiative, which "bring the spirit of collaborative innovation to the really difficult challenge of improving the quality of patents." The three elements of the patent quality initiative:
- Open Patent Review will establish an open, collaborative community review in the patenting process. The project will use regularly scheduled USPTO email alerts with links to newly-published patent applications as a way to invite the public review and feedback on prior art.
- Open Source Software as Prior Art -- the Open Source Development Lab, along with IBM, Novell, Red Hat and SourceForge, are developing an electronic system to store open source software code in a searchable format. The system will enable patent examiners and the public to review the code and identify prior art.
- The Patent Quality Index evaluates if a patent meets the standards of patentability determined by patent law. The Index, which will rank patent applications based on their clarity and substance, also will serve as a best practice tool for patent applications, holders and examiners.
See also Bob Sutor's related blog entry
(hosted on developerWorks), which boasts a rich collection of links to related articles and blogs. You may also want to read about the Community Patent Project
Great news: if you missed Tuesday's keynote presentation, don't fret. You can catch a replay at your leisure via developerWorks. Which means you don't have to rely on any blogger summary.
Yesterday I joined dW podcasts editor Scott Laningham for several interviews with IBM execs and thought leaders. Some good conversations. We're posting those podcasts interviews on developerWorks as well on dW, as quickly as we can get them up. Definitely worth a listen.
This morning I enjoyed the guest speaker, Benjamin Zander. He was quite popular, as evidenced by the sellout of some 500 copies of a book he co-authored with his wife, The Art of Possibility. Good stuff. (See Scott Laningham's blog for a bit more description.) Later on the show floor I visited with some folks dropping by the dW pedastals. One remarked that he really values our discussion forums, and "couldn't do his job without 'em." If you haven't taken advantage of the dW discussion forums, you may want to.
Tonight we're off to Universal CityWalk and Islands of Adventure... Gotta go![Read More]
In the midst of researching communitity and open source issues for a paper I'm writing as part of my master's degree program, today I stumbled upon an interetesting journal article at firstmonday.dk, which "discusses five fundamental problems with the current Open Source software development trend, explores why these issues are holding the movement back, and offers solutions that might help overcome these problems."
I wonder what open source developers think of the article's claims:
* The lack of focus on user interface design causes users to prefer proprietary softwareâs more intuitive interface.
* Open Source software tends to lack the complete and accessible documentation that retains users.
* Developers focus on features in their software, rather than ensuring that they have a solid core.
* Open Source programmers also tend to program with themselves as an intended audience, rather than the general public.
* Lastly, there is a widely known stubbornness by Open Source programmers in refusing to learn from what lessons proprietary software has to offer.
Some intriguing claims. Are any of 'em on target? Perhaps it's true that open source developers aren't perfect ...
Speaking of imperfect developers, check out Software developer named co-conspirator in bomb plot
I hope next week's news is a bit more positive for open source -- and for software developers in general.
If you have not yet seen the new and improved dW blogs directory page
, check it out. It shows more info in less space and adds a "Most recent entries" listing to show the latest entries from dW bloggers.
Also of particular note is the launch of new developerWorks column by "XML Bible" author Elliotte Rusty Harold, which the dW XML content team unveiled Monday. I expect many readers will appreciate Harold's insights on Managing XML Data
did not disappoint this morning. In addition to sharing an entertaining revue of his career, comprised mostly of video clips (and btw a career in which he apparently fulfilled his dream: "Whereas ... geeks dream of being a pop star, I was a pop star dreaming of being a geek"), Dolby provided an impressive demo of sonification
, the presentation of data using (non-speech) sound.
Sonification has been used in medical and academic areas for years, but perhaps not quite in the same manner as Dolby, who in one case took data relating to the wave height of the Dec. 2004 tsunami and mapped it to sonic events. "I found that I could tune that wave height to a parameter in my synthesizer," Dolby explained. The underlying premise: Sometimes by applying music or sound to data, you can see a greater depth, or better understand events. (The same thing might be said of visual representation of data, such as featured in the "History Flow Visualization Application
" tool shown by alphaWorks at the rationalconf2005 Solutions Center and on the aW Web site.)
Not surprisingly, the mood in the auditorium was rather somber after the tsunami portion of the demo. The close of the session, however, was quite the opposite, as Dolby sang "Hyperactive!" accompanied by the acapella group Toxic Audio
. Thanks to Roger Oberg
and the others at IBM who arranged this sonic treat.
Now I'm heading to the big "Beach Party" reception. I understand they have 33 lifeguards on hand to keep us from drowning in the Mandalay Bay pools. Should be interesting! If I survive, I'll share more tomorrow.
--Michael at rationalconf2005[Read More
Many of you have likely noticed the new redesign of developerWorks -- and of the broader ibm.com Web space. It's quite a makeover; even IBM CEO Sam Palmisano is boasting about "the new ibm.com
As Jack Pizzolato, a veteran on the developerWorks Web design and development team, explains, the new "OneXperience" Web site design "involved approximately 1.6 million pages worldwide and more than 200 Web 'sites' within ibm.com."
A big thanks to Jack -- and the many people within developerWorks involved in this big effort, including Elizabeth Dunnagan, Janet Willis, Nick Poore, Julie Gilbreath, Kim Holmes, Tracey Toombs, Keith Purcell, Tom Hartrick, Peter Yim, Tara Hall, Deborah Cottingham, Nancy Miller, and Devin Nguyen.
As Jack notes, the design is meant to be crisper, lighter, and more "open." Some immediate advantages:
- A more compact left navigation. With the new design, more of the developerWorks left navigation is visible on the page. In addition, almost all of the navigation items within the expansion areas now fit on a single line, making the navigation easier to scan.
- A unified font set. The single font set is easier to scan. Studies have also shown that the chosen font is easier to read, and the new font looks much better on Linux and Unix-based browsers.
- Simpler maintenance. With the OneX launch, developerWorks is now using native ibm.com stylesheets and graphics (with some supplemental stylesheets of our own). In the future, as design standards evolve and change, updating the site will be a simpler process. This should mean we spend less time on manual updates -- and thus can spend more time developing content and resources for our visitors.
If you haven't yet done so, please take a moment to enjoy the newly designed developerWorks site, as well as ibm.com.[Read More
One notable news item last week amidst the many announcements and events at the Rational conference certainly fits the theme of this blog:
The Open Group today announced an industry-wide effort with the support of IBM to promote the use of open standards to give information technology customers freedom of choice and provide interoperability among all vendors.
The âDeveloper Declaration of Independenceâ calls for the adoption and protection of open standards by corporations, governments, organizations, and individuals to ensure a fair competitive marketplace â thus allowing all parties to compete equally from the basis of a shared technology foundation and framework. The Open Group has published the Declaration at http://www.opengroup.org/declaration/ and is asking supporters to visit the web site where they can sign it.
I for one was happy to see IBM take a public position in support of such a declaration. And I encourage you to join thousands of your peers and pledge your support of open standards
Among the items of note I've read recently is the recent blog entry from related to open source I've read recently include the comments of colleague Alan Brown, who I'm happy to see has become active in his blogging again of late.
In his recent entry on Microsoft 's push on "interoperable by design,"
Alan explores the question of Microsoft's degree of support for open standards. I do believe Microsoft has been a true advocate of XML and Web services. On the other hand, I wonder to what degree Microsoft can possibly advocate true open standards given its business objective of maintaining the marketplace dominance of Windows operating systems and Microsoft Office. Compared to Microsoft, IBM may be more easily able to justify its support of open standards from a business perspective. After all, IBM supports numerous operating systems on a wide variety of hardware and has a diversified business model that spans hardware sales and services as well as software sales. For all of these elements of IBM's business model to survive and prosper, interoperability is not just a nice idea. It's mission-critical.
If you're interested in interoperability, you might find some useful info from developerWorks. A search of our content and resources reveals more than 2100 "interoperability"-related items
, and it appears that the majority relate to .Net or Microsoft. Beyond the occasional executive e-mail, I wonder to what degree Microsoft is helping developers and technical professionals address interoperability issues with its own products, let alone with non-MS products and technologies.[Read More
Last night was fun, between the pool party (complete with fireworks, tattoos, fortune tellers, and much more) and winning a bit in the casino (though blackjack was not so good, the craps table more than compensated; my thanks to Kristin, who despite being a beginner really knows how to throw the dice).
It's been great to talk to attendees of all stripes, to learn what challenges they're facing. It's gratifying when we hear customers validating what we are doing, whether the "we" is devleoperWorks, Rational, or IBM. The suggestions and criticism may not always be easy to swallow, but it may be even more valuable insofar as helping us better serve your wants and needs. So please keep sharing your input, positive or not.
I'm looking forward to spending more time outside of climate-controlled environments of conference halls and casinos. And right now I'm looking forward to sleep![Read More
At the Rational conference last week, IBM Research got a bit of well-deserved attention via the Grady Booch keynote, the meetings with the press and analysts, and the alphaWorks exhibits. IBM Research does some cool stuff, and it also has a big impact that reaches beyond IBM.
I described some of the IBM Research activities in my blog last week
, (in which I also referenced the related alphaWorks Emerging technology demos
and aW's new Research topics
area). The press also gave IBM Research some coverage. (See for example the eWeek
article "IBM Research Is Software Group's Secret Weapon
" and the InfoWorld
article "IBM exec: Impending death of Moore's Law calls for software development changes
.") More recently, however, I obtained a document (thanks, Cas!) that has both a bit of background on IBM Research and highlights of key research projects that are shaping the future of software development. See below; I think it's worth a look:
----------Computer Science at IBM Research
In 1965, when computer science was still a new academic discipline, the first department of computer science was formed in the IBM Research Division at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center (Yorktown Heights, NY). The department's stated mission was "to create and test new concepts and techniques in computer systems design, and to identify and provide a first inroad into new areas of computer applications."
Since then, computer science has established itself across all the IBM Research labs worldwide: Almaden, Austin, China, Haifa, India, Tokyo, Watson, and Zurich. In the ensuing years, IBM Research has helped create important new areas of computer science research and to bring those research results to the marketplace. These include compiler optimization (FORTRAN), relational database (SQL and DB2), speech recognition (ViaVoice), Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) architecture (RS/6000 and PowerPC), data encryption (DES), fractals, and scalable parallel systems (RS/6000 SP).
IBM Research's goal is to help create the future of computing. This includes inventing, developing, and applying technologies that will be vital to IBM's future success and obtaining fundamental results that influence the direction of computer science research. The Future of Software Development: Key ProjectsLeakbot
Leakbot is an automated, adaptive and scalable tool for diagnosing memory leaks. A memory leak occurs when a Java program inadvertently maintains references to objects that are no longer needed, preventing the garbage collector from reclaiming space. Eventually, a memory leak leads to an out-of-memory exception. Java memory leaks are among the most common problems facing customers, and among the hardest to find.
Leakbot discovers patterns by finding objects of the same data type that share similar context. The validation can either be performed by periodically matching the discovered patterns against snapshots of the running program, or by inserting lightweight probes that monitor changes to patterns as the program runs. Quality Software Checking (QSC)
As the complexity of programming environments increases, it becomes increasingly difficult for developers to write highly robust bug-free code. This is especially true as programmers now more than ever rely on large program libraries and object frameworks for sophisticated functions, such as presentation, data, transactional, and collaborative services.
To overcome these problems, QSC searches for code errors based on the context of the entire software program, rather than small segments of code like today's tools. It searches for known patterns, and carefully indicates to the programmer the nature of the problem, and will even suggest fixes for the problem when possible. It verifies the quality of Java applications based on best practices so on demand systems are achieving top quality and performance. It can be used interactively during the development process, or help to find bugs in code after the system has been deployed. With this new technology, developers can significantly reduce software bugs automatically so they can speed up the time it takes to create high-quality and high-performance applicationsMetronome
The Metronome project is developing real-time garbage collection and other associated technologies for Java. This allows Java's high-level programming model to be extended to real-time systems, which are an increasingly important segment of the computing landscape. The Metronome system is currently capable of providing worst-case latency of one millisecond for programs written in standard Java, roughly a factor of 100 faster than the nearest competitor.
Current research focuses on extending real-time capability to large-scale multiprocessors, providing "write once run anywhere" characteristics for timing behavior, supporting applications with microsecond-level response time requirements, and developing a stochastic theory of real-time behavior.Model-Based Analysis and Testing (MBAT)
One of the biggest challenges is to really know if an application conforms to the requirements of the various stakeholders for the application. IBM researchers are working on a tool that uses use cases and application domain information to automatically generate test cases. These test cases have complete coverage of all use case scenarios, and also target specific defect types that involve sequences of multiple use cases. It uses novel AI planning techniques to find the "best" sequences - those most likely to find coding errors if they exist. This tool will be a significant help in ensuring that software systems have high quality and conform to their functional requirements. It also provides flexibility for iterative development approaches, as test cases can be regenerated "on-demand" whenever required. The Architect's Workbench (AWB)
AWB is a tool that automates the process of linking requirements to architecture and architecture to development. This tool helps developers define the requirements, starting with English text, and moving all the way to more formal models (such as UML-based architectural diagrams). A novel aspect of AWB is that it preserves traceability across the development process, thereby ensuring that key requirements don't get lost. With the ultimate goal of reinventing the notion of process for software development, the AWB enables developers to keep track of what they have done, and what they need to do. It also points out flawed or problematic structures, and keeps track in a non-obtrusive way, of those aspects of the architecture that need to be addressed. By identifying problems at this very early stage in the software development process, it becomes less likely that there will be major development and deployment problems later in the lifecycle.Jazz
The Jazz research project grew out of the recognition that although software development is an inherently collaborative process in which teams of developers work together to design solutions and produce code, this collaboration is usually ad hoc and rarely supported by tools within the programmer's integrated development environment (IDE). As software development teams face greater time and resource constraints, there is a need for software development tools to support structured and unstructured communication and coordination of work.
The Jazz research project seeks to extend the Eclipse (http://www.eclipse.org
) software development environment with collaborative capabilities to support coordination, communication, and awareness among a small close-knit team of developers. This involves creating connections to server infrastructure for messaging, awareness, and source control, and integrating user interfaces for communication and awareness within the Eclipse environment to provide unobtrusive access to in-context team information.[Read More
Happy Birthday, developerWorks!
This week, IBM developerWorks officially turns five years old. For me at least (and many others, particularly veterans on the developerWorks staff
), it's hard to believe that it was five years ago that developerWorks formally launched, with an initial focus primarily on technologies such as Java, XML, Linux, and Web architecture.
Now, the site runs much broader and deeper than it did five years ago, having undergone tremendous growth. (See "The developerWorks model
" for details about this journey.) The many people on this expanded developerWorks team have worked together to integrate several new technology areas (including Autonomic computing, Grid computing, SOA and Web services, and Wireless) and a variety of Web-based resources for developing with IBM products (DB2, eServer, Lotus, Rational, Tivoli, WebSphere) into the developerWorks site, thereby making the user experience richer than ever. Further complementing the developer technology and product resources is the tightly integrated alphaWorks collection for innovators and early adopters. Developers can also find information on topics such as migration to open standards, sample IT projects and scenarios, On Demand Business, and the IBM Software Development Platform.
The upshot: You'll now find a much broader array of resources within each content area than you did five years ago, ranging from standard how-to articles to comprehensive tutorials, discussion forums, tips, newsletters, downloads, online Webcasts and events, RSS feeds, and more (including blogs like this from the likes of Grady Booch, Bob Sutor, Doug Tidwell, and others). The site has published thousands of articles over the past five years, as well as more than 500 in-depth tutorials. And along the way, developerWorks has won quite a few awards
, including two Jolt Product Excellence Awards
(and -- just in time for our birthday! -- developerWorks last week was honored as the "Best Developers' News Source"
and "Best Technical Support"
provider in Software Development Magazines's annual Readers' Choice Awards.)
The editors for each content area ensure their material is focused on meeting the wants and needs of developers and related technical professionals, striving to help the millions of developerWorks visitors solve problems, do their jobs, and more easily do business with IBM. If you're accustomed to relying on developerWorks for general-purpose content, don't let the added sections focused on IBM products mislead you: developerWorks maintains an ever-growing collection of resources dedicated to fundamental technologies that exist independent of commercial products. And today on developerWorks, you'll find more material than ever dedicated to standards technologies. At the same time, for those of you who are using IBM products, the various brand-specific areas of the site now offer a rich collection of resources specific to the products independent software vendors and other IBM customers use. More of everything
You might glean from this description of the developerWorks program that its staff is highly dedicated to user satisfaction -- and you'd be right. Occasionally, developerWorks receives feedback from visitors who are under the impression that, as a consequence of our massive growth, developerWorks has reduced the amount of general-interest, tech-focused materials. Not so! In fact, the volume of technology content has increased
, and is complemented by the product-specific resources our customers have requested. The site has been redesigned a few times over the past five years as a result of our commitment to user-centered design, giving you more navigation choices through the growing number of content areas. But be assured that our commitment to serving up leading-edge technology resources is stronger than ever. Again, developerWorks has substantially increased its technology content production while simultaneously adding and enriching the product-specific resources that customers have requested. (For more details, read about the growth of developerWorks over its first five years.)
As developerWorks enters its sixth year, you can count on me to encourage developerWorks' growth and evolution, keeping in sync with the evolving community of developers and technical professionals and their wants and needs. And I encourage your ongoing input
. Please don't hesitate to tell us what we're doing right, what could be improved, and how we're helping you with your projects and your career. developerWorks' present to you
In the meantime, turning the tables on birthday traditions, developerWorks has a present for you: a new Power Architecture zone,
which we've launched this week! POWER and PowerPC processors are the brains behind everything from servers and cell phones to routers, game consoles, and supercomputers. Power Architecture technology is supported by a large number of companies, including the original members of the AIM alliance (Apple, IBM, and Motorola), and is an open architecture,
(and has been since it was first released nearly ten years ago). This new developerWorks section on Power Architecture technology will cover everything from chip and device design to embedded systems and device drivers. It will focus on Power Architecture open standards-based hardware components and interfaces, and even free and open source SoC and ASIC design and verification tools.
Be sure to check out our latest addition -- as well as favorites such as Java technology and Linux.
And don't forget to share your feedback
Next week developerWorks will be holding a content team summit, bringing our geographically dispersed editors together for three days. One ideal takeaway for us is tuning and affirming developerWorks' core mission and objectives. This task can prove difficult, given the wide array of software and hardware and the many products and technologies we focus on, and the variety of people like you who rely on developerWorks.
Fortunately, our most fundamental high-level objective is rather simple. Like all of IBM, we at developerWorks dedicate ourselves to your success. Whether you're a veteran user of WebSphere software or a new DB2 administrator, a Java technology guru or a Web services newbie, we're here to serve your wants and needs.
This set of blogs is another effort in that vein. We're quite pleased to debut developerWorks blogs with two expert IBMers -- Grady Booch and Doug Tidwell -- who've dedicated much of their careers to helping developers, whether through the numerous books and articles they've authored or countless technical presentations they've given at conferences and other events. Just the beginning
Note that we plan to offer many more blogs in the coming weeks and months, some of which will focus on more specific topics. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, please consider this your opportunity to offer your valued input: Tell us how developerWorks is helping you be successful in your technical endeavors, so we'll know what we're doing right. And tell us what else you'd like to see from us.
I sense that Microsoft has been rather concerned about Linux lately. Why else would their top dog, CEO Steve Ballmer, get so riled up when asked this week (at Microsoft's annual partner conference in Toronto) about Linux? As internetnews.com
Asked during the Q&A portion about open source, Ballmer, who was seated at the time, clenched his fists and sprung to his feet. "It's either the iced tea, or I'm a bit of a caged animal on this," he said. At times pounding his fists or waving his arms, Ballmer criticized open source and faulted it for what it does not offer to partners, compared to Microsoft.
Ballmer went on to claim that IBM can't make money with Linux, except through services business that would compete with IBM partners: "They make no money on software; they make no money on hardware. They make money only in services." (See the related CRN news article
While Ballmer may be good at pacing on stage and rallying the pro-Microsoft troops, he might garner a bit more credibility with the broader industry if he employed facts. developerWorks has learned that "IBM drove nearly $100 million of eServer and Middleware direct sales transactions from Linux from IBM's top 400 Linux partners -- with over a third in SMB." This was in the first half of 2004 alone. And it does not
In the coming days, we may reveal additional aspects of these claims that don't reflect the facts. In any case, perhaps instead of creating yet more FUD (fear, uncertainty, and decepti-- er, doubt) with such comments, Microsoft would better serve the industry (and maybe even its own bottom line) by redirecting its energies on minimizing the fearsome -- and real -- vulnerabilities in its own products. For example, here's the lead of a TechNewsWorld report
from just this week:
Microsoft has released its monthly round of patches, including two patches for critical vulnerabilities and one that patches a hole that could become the basis of a widespread computer worm attack. At the same time as the patch release, a Danish company announced additional security holes in Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, which has been beaten by a string of vulnerabilities and attacks in recent weeks.
Perhaps it'll take some sort of near-death experience for this seemingly invincible company to recognize the need to reform, to embrace open industry standards and stop acting as if Microsoft offers the only viable choice. IBM suffered just such an experience not so long ago, and then-CEO Lou Gerstner, who steered IBM back to health, values that experience as a big lesson learned. In his 1995 Keynote Address at Comdex, Gerstner noted:
I think we have two choices.
We can ask customers to set aside their freedom of choice and preferences in hardware, operating systems, applications and user interfaces... junk their trillions of dollars of investment in information technology... and all of us -- everyone, everywhere -- move to one architecture provided by, priced by and controlled by one company.
Or: We can embrace open industry standards.
Open means that software from one vendor can operate on or with hardware and software from any vendor -- not just one guy's. We need to work with standards organizations. We need to openly agree on APIs, interfaces, tools and protocols -- on anything the customer sees and touches in the journey to get something done.
Compliance with standards does not mean that we won't compete aggressively or that we can't distinguish our products. We will. But we'll compete on the basis of innovative implementation of industry-standard technologies and architectures, on performance, features, design, service and support.
Besides, in the long run, closed, proprietary architectures -- that's a losing strategy. I bet you thought you'd never hear that from IBM. But having had a near-death experience, we know what we're talking about.
Every time I meet with customers, I say the same thing. I urge them to demand compliance with open industry standards in the products they buy. And you know what? They're beginning to listen. They understand the need for the industry to move to this level.
Microsoft might do well to learn from IBM's experience also. Before it lives the lesson firsthand.What's your take on Ballmer's claims,
as reported in the CRN news article
and elsewhere? We encourage you to share your comments (click on the "Comments" link just under this text).
I've been tapped as a roving reporter for the upcoming Rational Software Development User Conference, aka RSDUC or RSDC
, and am looking forward to the event.
If anyone has any requests or sugggestions on what to be sure to cover (or what to skip), I'm all ears.[Read More
FYI, I found a few additional blogs covering RSDC this past week:
- Dave Bartlett, IBM's VP of Autonomic Computing, has a developerWorks blog that includes a few RSDC entries.
- Marc Siegel (who manages the dW Rational community) has a "mini-blog" hosted within the dW Rational discussion forums.
Know of other RSDC-related blogs or reports worth sharing? Please let us know: add a comment here
with the link and a short description.