Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Made my day

This article just made my day. Fantastic!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

SOA Design Patterns released

I've been writing a book on SOA and ESB for a while with a couple of friends. It's due to be part of Thomas Erl's SOA series later this year. While writing it Thomas asked us to produce some patterns for his book on SOA. Well the finished book, SOA Design Patterns, is now out and it's well worth a read. A number of people throughout the industry have helped to contribute some of the patterns within it so this is definitely a cross-industry collaborative effort. Thomas also wants it to be a live-work in as much as new patterns can be contributed by anyone. So take a look at the book and if you see something missing consider contributing it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Star Trek interlude

Anyone who's known me for long enough knows that I'm a Star Trek fan. (Not the variety that dresses up as Andorians or learns Klingon!) Being born in the late sixties sci-fi was fairly influential to me in one way or another, with my fondest TV memories coming from shows like Star Trek, Space 1999, Dr Who, The Six Million Dollar Man and Blakes 7.

I still say that the first couple of seasons of The Original Series were better than much of what was created in recent years. So it's with some apprehension that I look ahead to the new movie. I'm definitely not going to prejudge, but I had hoped they would retain some of the look-and-feel of the original.

On thing that has stayed with me over the past few years is a quote from Kirk to Picard from Star Trek Generations (watch the film if you want to understand the context):

"Don't let them transfer you... don't let anything take you off the bridge of that ship... Because while you're there, you can make a difference."

I've found that it applies to more than just starship captains!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Virtual conference

We're doing a virtual conference next month. I'm recording some sessions at the moment. Very strange, but I think it'll be fun to attend. Maybe this will encourage me to look into SecondLife.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

SOA is dead (again?)

For the umpteenth time SOA is dead apparently. It's been shot so many times over the past year or so that you'd think it had a role in a Sam Peckinpah movie! However, maybe it's got 9 lives or you need to use a silver bullet, because each time it dies it keeps coming back.

This time it's my friend Anne who is reporting the demise of SOA. I've known Anne for many years and respect her, so unlike a few other obituaries I take note of this one. However, like Duane I have to disagree that SOA is dead. OK, the term may have been overloaded over the past few years almost to the point of being meaningless (analysts are as much at fault as anyone in the industry) but the concepts behind it are still very much alive and relevant (more so in today's economy.) Where we have lost our way is perhaps in having an agreed architectural definition for SOA: it is the 'A' after all, so surely we can agree on what that means (REST doesn't suffer this problem) as well as pushing the mantra that "SOA is not just a technology" (though given the number of people who have been saying this over the years I suspect that this is more a case of individuals simply not listening, certain vendors muddying the waters or it being lost in the noise.)

There is no global panacea for IT woes. There never has been and I doubt there ever will be one. For the most part software engineering practices evolve over time (Darwin would be proud). There are a few evolutionary dead ends on the way. I doubt we'll see any extinction-level events though (not unless they're associated with human extinction.) But these things take time (I'm sure the dinosaurs laughed at the evolutionary path that created the Coelacanth, but who's laughing now?)

We can't afford to keep jumping from one lifeboat to another just because some use cases don't match, or someone didn't quite understand that you need to think about how to use SOA before coding. The underlying requirements of loose coupling, security, federation, reliability etc. date back decades. The term SOA should have been good enough. It still is as far as I'm concerned. If it's not SOA then are we in for yet another round of acronym generation, like SOA 2.0, WOA etc? None of which really add much to help the people at the sharp end of IT problems!

I think in Anne's recent SOA obituary she is trying to indicate that the principles are fine but it's the term that needs to go. In the first case we can agree. In the second I don't think it's worth the industry wasting another 4 years to disagree on yet another acronym (if we do, I'd like to nominate XYZZY.) As I said above, for people actually using these principles and associated technologies it won't make a difference to them. (It may be good for analysts though.) So let's just stop this madness and start concentrating on where it really matters.

In this case I think it's definitely more a case of what Mark Twain once said, "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated".

Thursday, January 01, 2009


My friend Mic and I have discussed a few languages I've been playing with over the past year or so, which include D and Erlang. I think I managed to persuade Mic that there is some benefit to Erlang, but maybe the jury's still out on D. Well a few weeks back Mic mentioned that he was looking at Scala, so I decided to take a look. I didn't find the time until I took a break from work for the festive season and have just spent a few days giving it a go. My first impressions are pretty positive (I've mentioned a few times in the past that I'm a fan of functional programming languages and particularly lisp which I've used for over 20 years). I'm trying to use it through Eclipse but am finding the plugin a bit clunky, so I may go back to the command-line and emacs (I'm a shell/emacs person at heart!)

So far I haven't got into any really complicated projects or applications so there may be problems with the language that I don't know about yet. But at the moment I like it and will persevere with some pet projects that I've been thinking about for a while. Even if it doesn't lead to anything ultimately, it's another language to learn and experience gained. But I have a suspicion it'll be more than a passing fad for me. Thanks Mic.