Teaching Kids to Code
As I prepare to head to Las Vegas for IBM's biggest developer conference of the year (rationalconf2005), I feel I, along with my colleagues at developerWorks and throughout IBM, can stand a bit taller this month.
This week the developer publication SD Times has come out with their latest "SD Times 100" -- a list of "movers and shakers," those few that "demonstrated the greatest amount of leadership." It honors the "organizations, individuals or movements that were talked about, those that created not only great technology but also great buzz." I'm happy to report that IBM developerWorks was named as one of only ten "influencers" and credited with embracing the developer community and raising the bar for everyone else.
More broadly, IBM also was honored in nearly all categories. To wit:
Also, Eclipse was named among the top "Tools & Environments": "The newly independent Eclipse community became all the rage with the heady market buzz and third-party momentum for tools and plug-ins. A board packed with competitors makes a level playing field." (It was also nice to see not only dW, but also "The Bazaar" (with a nod to Eric Raymond), the Eclipse Foundation, and the World Wide Web Consortium all recognized as top influencers.
Meanwhile, IBM developerWorks also was recognized in this year's "Software Development Jolt and Productivity Awards." The judges named dW one of the industry's top four "Websites and Developer Networks." (Other winners in this category are the O'Reilly Network, developer.* and Java.net.) Here's what one judge had to say about dW:
"DeveloperWorks has been one of my favorite technical sites for years. Big Blue understands the needs of developers very wellnot only does it offer information regarding its products and services, it posts great "how-to" technical articles on a vast array of topics, including how to write better Java, how to be effective with UML 2, how to create better data models, and how to administer Linux successfully. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. ... Even if you don't work in an IBM shop, you'll find developerWorks a valuable resource."
Between these awards and the flurry of good news on the open standards front of late (the IBM moves to acquire GlueCode Software, formally support FireFox for use by IBMers, and formally encourage, not just allow, IBMers to blog), I'd say it's been a good month already -- and I haven't even gotten to Vegas yet!
Hope to see many of you next week as I blog from rationalconf2005 (aka the Rational Software Developer Conference, aka RSDC). And I will hardly be the sole conference blogger...[Read More]
I'm about to head to the airport (heading to rationalconf2005 in Las Vegas, where I'll be blogging daily, helping with the show daily newsletter, and presenting at the conference). Before I leave, though, I wanted to spread the word about a just-published developerWorks interview involving three prominent leaders -- not only at Rational and IBM, but in the broader software development community.
As Rational Software co-founder Mike Devlin prepares to retire and is handing the reins over to veteran IBM executive Danny Sabbah, Grady Booch interviews both. The result is an insightful discussion of how Rational has impacted software development, why Rational and IBM joined forces, and what the future holds for IBM Rational (which Grady aptly describes as "the software development brand at IBM Software Group").
My thanks to Mike Perrow, Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Edge, for pulling this together, as well as to Grady for asking insightful questions and to Mike and Danny for answering 'em.
Check out the complete interviews on developerWorks.
Sunday at RSDC, my colleagues Michelle Ulrich and Lindsey Lurie and I introduced a group of about 50 folks to developerWorks. Actually, some already had used dW before, but the breadth and depth of dW is such that even folks who use it frequently are likely to learn of something new and useful to them. For me, though, the best part of the experience was hearing from developers and technical professionals about how they use dW, as well as hear their feedback and suggestions on how to better serve their wants and needs.
Today we heard several people encourage us to again offer posters outlining the stages of the Rational Unified Process (RUP). Turns out we DO still offer these highly sought-after RUP posters, and you can get your very own.
I'll have more opportunities to hear from customers and partners this week, both informally at receptions (such as this evening's, at the Shark Reef) and during breaks (such as this afternoon, when I talked with some attendees about today's SDP sessions, the importance of use cases and of a holistic view that embraces business architectures, and much much more.) If you're at rationalconf2005 and are interested in learning more about developerWorks -- or want to share your questions and comments re: how to make the most of dW -- please consider joining us for:
If you can't make it to these events, feel free to send an email (to moc at us dot ibm dot com) with your thoughts.
Watch this space -- and developerWorks -- for more about IT lifecycle management issues, which I understand will get a fair amount of the focus during the next few days here at rationalconf2005.[Read More]
The keynote at the RSDC conf keynote this morning went well. I'm sure many other rationalconf2005 bloggers will cover various aspects of the comments from Mike Devlin, Danny Sabbah and others, as well as the impressive demo (about which industry analyst Amy Wohl already has commented). Many announcements from today's keynote are detailed at the Rational software site.
I want to make sure folks notice one particular highlight: During a brief review of IBM developer relations activities, ISV and Developer Relations GM Buell Duncan announced the new developerWorks IT Lifecycle Management resource page. The concept of lifecycle management and connecting businesses to development to build better software continues to get much attention here, with the idea that businesses (as well as software apps and the teams that build 'em) become more successful when companies can and do embrace business-driven software development. Check it out. (High-level managers may also want to see the Moving Beyond IT Optimization page.)[Read More]
At the keynote presentation this morning, IBM Fellow and leading Rational technologist Grady Booch emphasized the value and importance of innovation, which "occurs at the intersection of invention and insight," with invention being truly intentional and insight often being serendipitous. "You can create a climate that allows innovation to flourish," said Grady. "Be intentional about it."
Next, as Roger Oberg describes, was fast-paced demo from Rational model-driven development specialist Grant Larsen. If I had a chance to get some coffee beforehand I might be able to add more details, but I think I'd better leave that to Grant, Roger and others. I can tell you, though, that at least one person in the audience (who came in from South America, and counts among his clients the second-largest bank in S.A.) nodded his head in approval, saying afterward, "I really liked the demo. Cool."
Grady also noted that "we love demanding customers, we love to be pushed." I couldn't agree more. That's what developerWorks is all about: serving the demands (or what I call the "wants and needs") of customers and would-be customers -- the worldwide community of developers and technical professionals. It runs in the family...
Grady then reviewed a bunch of cool innovations from IBM Research, including a Star Trek-like speech translator, "Veggie Vision" technology that eases checkout by automatically recognizing objects such as fruits and veggies, and a Linux Watch - "a great example of unfettered innovation." If you're at the conference, you can learn more at the alphaWorks booth in the Exhibit Hall tomorrow (Wednesday) from 11:30 to 2:00. And we can all check out these innovations online, courtesy alphaWorks (which BTW today debuted its new Research topics, a collection of resources technology downloads, demos, articles, and more to help build awareness and understanding about an emerging research topic.)
Finally, it was nice to hear Grady mention developerWorks and alphaWorks, saying that he relied on both aW and dW even before Rational joined IBM. "Before we were borged by IBM, I would look at alphaWorks and developerWorks on a weekly basis to see what's going on at IBM." If folks like Grady are tuning in every week, I think we're doing something right. Thanks, Grady!
Now it's after 7pm in Vegas (10pm Eastern), and I'm off to the rationalconf2005 Solutions Center for a bit, then on the BOF session, "Rational Online Community Exchange." More tomorrow (and I'm looking forward to seeing Thomas Dolby) ...[Read More]
Thomas Dolby 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]
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]
FYI, I found a few additional blogs covering RSDC this past week:
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.
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 Projects
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 applications
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.
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]
Sunday at the Rational conference here in Orlando, I co-presented a session about IBM developerWorks with Michelle Ulrich. Decent turnout for a Sunday morning I'd say, people asked a few good questions. Seems one area of interest is the wikis. One attendee asked if we'd be offering more of these on developerWorks, and in fact we plan to do so; stay tuned. If you have not yet done so, check out the existing dW wikis, including the the Emerging Technologies Toolkit (ETTK) Community wiki. Our new AIX and Unix zone also includes an AIX wiki. We also had a couple of questions about searching for dW content, including one query about the dW search plug-in you can add to your Firefox browser.
Our welcome reception poolside this evening had a bit of added water, courtesy rain clouds, which prompted folks to get closer as they found cover until the rain subsided. I'd imagine some people got better acquainted with one another -- and after all, isn't a big part of the value of these events the chance to socialize, network, meet new faces, etc? We got a bit of help from Mother Nature...
This year I'm happy to see the RSDC conference include a robust track dedicated to open sourch and standards. The "Open Computing: Open Source to Open Standards" track includes about 15 sessions on topics such as Eclipse, PHP, Apache, Ajax, Grid, Ruby, and XML. I'll be sure to attend some of those.
Looking forward to the big keynote (yes, this is indoors, so no need for umbrellas) at 8 a.m. with Danny Sabbah and others. Monday afternoon includes sessions presented by various "Innovators" from IBM Research, and I'll join a Birds-of-a-Feather session 7-8 p.m. with the developerWorks Rational online community (which we hope will help attendees get more involved). We'll also be showing our stuff in the Solution Center of the exhibit hall, which opens Monday at 5 p.m. Do say hello to the dW team at pedastals 1-4 this week if you have a chance.[Read More]
At yesterday's keynote, Roger Oberg and Danny Sabbah described how software can work (or play) together in concert. Roger discussed how pieces of software can interoperate across technologies, global boundaries, silos, and even generations. He also noted that significant freedoms can be gained by governing development, leaving more room to innovate. Danny mentioned three trends - community, modularity, and empowerment. He also discussed how "passive governance… [the] integration of automation into what we do every day" fuels innovation. He said governance empowers teams, provides greater efficiencies through reuse, allows for clearly defined goals and greater line of sight, and increases efficiencies of globally distributed environments. Danny led a discussion with panelists (including Joe Bugajski, VP Global Standards, VISA; Jan Roberts, Senior Director, CETS, Network Software & Systems Technology Group, Cisco Systems; and Jay Cappy, Managing Director, BearingPoint) who described their challenges and reinforced the importance of community, modularity, empowerment, and open standards.
At a press conference after the keynote, Danny Sabbah emphasized IBM's support of open source, saying open source software "is something we are incorporating into our business strategy. And we're not gonna fight it like others. We're not going try to keep proprietary standards that fight against open source. ... I don't believe that it's bad for the industry at all -- unlike a few of our competitors." I know IBM fully supports standards and open source, as evidenced by its efforts around Linux, Eclipse, J2EE, Apache, and newer activities such as the Open Ajax Initiative, for example. Still, I always like to hear executives validate and reaffirm our position.
Be sure to check out the various RSDC 2006 blogs and podcasts. (I especially appreciated Walker Royce's blog about how practicioners view governance...)
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]
developerWorks will again be at the Rational Software Development Conference this year -- June 1-5 in Orlando, Florida. I again have the honor of doing a presentation about developerWorks, this year joined by dW Rational Community Manager Marc Siegel. I'll also again be conducting interviews at the conference. This year I've scheduled interviews with some VIPs at IBM -- and I invite you to suggest questions!
This week I'm focusing on gathering questions for Steve Mills. Many of you already know Steve runs IBM's Software Group -- he's the Senior Vice President and Group Executive of IBM Software Group. What you may not realize is that he is the leader of the world's largest software development organization, with some 24,000 developers, widely distributed across the globe. Sounds like someone worth talking to, eh? We plan to do just that, and we want to ask him the best of your questions. Have any? Please post your questions for Steve Mills here -- simply follow this link to the related dW forum thread (and perhaps read the questions others have posted), then click on "Reply to this thread" (upper left of page) to submit your own question(s). I'll ask as many of your good questions as I can when I talk to him at RSDC.
Also, if you haven't already heard it, check out our new developerWorks podcast about RSDC, in which dW's own Scott Laningham interviews Scott Hebner, Rational VP of Marketing and Strategy, for a quick preview of this year's conference. After listening and hearing more about this year's highlights (including big keynotes from folks like Steve Mills, Danny Sabbah and Grady Booch, guest speaker William Shatner, comedian Mitch Fatel, and Grammy-winning rock band The Wallflowers ... more than 300 technical sessions ... hands-on technical workshops ... complimentary IBM certification classes ... technology demonstrations ...) I'll bet you'll want to register now -- and see these execs (as well as many technical experts, and peers) in person.[Read More]
I'm excited to see my lineup of podcast interviews during the Rational Software Development Conference June 1-5. I'm also happy to offer the dW community (that's you, dear reader) the opportunity to submit questions for me to ask of these VIPs, who'll be sitting down with me for interviews during RSDC.
This week I'm continuing to focus on questions for Steve Mills, and also particularly looking for questions for both IBM fellow Grady Booch and Rational Software GM Danny Sabbah. Please share your questions for Steve, Grady, and Danny![Read More]