Methods & Tools Software Development Magazine

Software Development Magazine - Project Management, Programming, Software Testing

 

Methods & Tools - News, Facts & Comments Edition - November 2004

*** Products ***********************************************************

* Product News

You can look at the last product press releases from software development tools vendors on our forum

*** Companies **********************************************************

* The New Software Industry Cash Machine

After having paid $1.6 billion in April to Sun to resolve pending antitrust and patent issues, Microsoft agreed this month to pay $536 million in cash to Novell to settle potential antitrust litigation related to Novell's NetWare operating system.

This year Microsoft seems to be the favourite cash provider of the software industry. It is also true that the Redmond's giant is sitting on a large pile of money... and does not seem to have the right ideas of where to invest it. Helping competitors that have some financial difficulties could perhaps lead to turn them into allies in some forthcoming battles. By the way, this settlement didn't restrain Novell to fill a new antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft related to WordPerfect claims... ;-)

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* A New Head for Computer Associates

Computer Associates (CA) has just named John Swainson as new CEO, replacing Kenneth Cron. Cron was interim CEO since April following the departure of Sanjay Kumar due to a massive accounting fraud. Swainson was leading the sales organisation of IBM's software group and is the first CEO coming from outside the company.

This is the last move from CA to try cleaning its image. Before the accounting problem with the Security Exchange Commission, CA had also to fight against its reputation of getting the maximum of the licenses of captive customers, without providing evolution for its portfolio of products, many of them having been acquired seemingly only in this purpose.

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* Where is the Source of Open Source?

One of the current issues with open source software products is the origin of their code. This is a side-effect of opening source code to everybody, a problem carefully avoided by commercial vendors. The main story in this area is the accusation of SCO that part of the Linux code is copyrighted.

To illustrate this situation, here is a little story that I found on the site of the Apache Foundation. Geronimo is a project developing an open source J2EE application server. It received at the end of October 2003 a letter from the attorneys of JBoss, an open source competitor, claiming that "portions of the Geronimo program appear to be virtually identical or substantially similar to JBoss program source code." JBoss is distributed under the Lesser General Public License (LGPL) which restrain use of JBoss source code. Apache has its own license format.

In October 2004, the Apache Foundation answered that some of the similarities were simply due to the fact that JBoss used some source code of a former Apache project. Another similarity was due to the same author licensing code to both JBoss and Apache. (see http://geronimo.apache.org/news.html for the full story and letters exchanged between JBoss and Apache)

Debates about copyrighting user-interface or algorithms have existed for a long time, but the open source movement brings it to a new level. Perhaps we will hear less complaints about the lack of code re-use? ;-)

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* Company News

You can look at the last company press releases from software development tools vendors on our forum

*** Numbers ************************************************************

* Importance of Web-based Development

The last M&T poll was investigating the percentage of new applications that are developed using a Web technology. The question was: What part of your new developed applications are web-based (using a browser as user interface)?

The answers were:

  • We do not develop web-based applications 15%
  • 25% or less of the new applications 10%
  • 26% to 50% of the new applications 11%
  • 51% to 75% of the new applications 14%
  • 75% to 99% of the new applications 29%
  • 100% of the new applications 21%

Number of participants: 181

As you can see, web-based user interface has been widely chosen as a dominant standard interface for developing applications as 50% of respondents develop 75% or more of their new applications with this technology. There are many reasons for this:

  • - a will to cut dependence on the client-side operating system
  • - the possibility to improve management of application's changes
  • - the "portal" trend: an Intranet is the new starting point for all applications of an organisation
  • - the "Internet is good" influence that makes you ashamed to propose another interface

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* Training for testing

The current M&T poll look at the amount of training received by software development professionals in the area of software testing.

Go to our [Vote] section to disclose your situation and to see intermediate results. The final results will be published in a future issue.

*** In Other's Words ***************************************************

* Open Source vs. Gosplan?

The open source (OS) community can deliver high-quality, very popular software [...] This software is developed in a culturally and geographically diverse environment. The developers do it for little or no money, with little or no extrinsic management.[...]

Before we go any further, we have to clear up a few issues.

The first myth to dispel is that OS development is a kind of communal (or communist, as some suggest) hippy-freak love fest. Nothing is further from the truth. In the OS world, you are your reputation - all that matters is how well you do. Developers work hard to win that reputation, by delivering high-quality code. Once won, they work even harder to protect it: submit poor code to an OS project, and the rest of the team will let you know in no uncertain terms - it's their reputations on the line. As a result, OS communities are meritocracies, and each project is run by a (hopefully benevolent) dictator. Compared to the OS model, it would be easier to argue that most corporate development has communist roots, with its strong belief in central planning and the interchangeability of production programming staff units. [...]

Source: Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt, "Open Source Ecosystems", IEEE Software, July/August 2004

I find amusing this analysis that gives the "communist" role to the commercial software projects and their central planning (Gosplan was the committee for economical planning in the Soviet Union). It is true that you can find many examples where project planning is performed "politically", without any connections with the actual resources or capabilities. In these cases, the customers or the high management plays, sometimes without knowing it, the role of the malevolent dictator and you have steering committees to replace the PolitBuro or Central Committee. I will also agree with the authors that the individual is generally more valued in open source projects. It won't hurt many software development departments if they tried to get more input from their developers instead of relying always on a top-down approach to manage software development processes and projects.

*** Books **************************************************************

* The Web Programmer's Desk Reference

Trying to create, maintain or understand how a web site works requires having knowledge of many different technologies. This book provides a good overview of the core web technologies (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) and a reference of all elements of these languages. For each element, you will find

  • - a description
  • - its syntax
  • - a practical example
  • - compatibility with different Explorer and Netscape browser

This makes more than 1100 pages that are easy to consult as a single source for web site programming.

Click here to get more details on this book or buy it on amazon.com

Click here to get more details on this book or buy it on amazon.co.uk

*** Conferences ********************************************************

* JAVAPOLIS 2004 - 13-17 December, Antwerp, Belgium

Join us from December 13-17 at JavaPolis 2004 in Antwerp / Belgium for the biggest Java gathering of Europe. JavaPolis welcomes only the best! The best international speakers (J2ME, J2SE, J2EE, Open Source, Security, Methodology, Messaging), the most inspiring cases and of course the market leaders in Java & J2EE. Last year more than 950 people attended JavaPolis. Don't stay behind and join us for the biggest Java conference of Europe.

Program preview, Info & Registration: http://wiki.javapolis.com

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* Call for proposals EUROPEAN SEPG 2005 - 13 - 16 June, LONDON

We are currently inviting proposals from individuals who wish to present at the 10th annual European SEPG™ 2005. For the past decade the conference has been instrumental in promoting the adoption of process improvement across Europe. It is firmly established as the premier European gathering of software and systems professionals who are striving to improve their organisation's development capability in a process improvement environment.

Details of the Call for Proposals, and online proposal submission are available at http://www.espi.org/sepg

*** M&T News ***********************************************************

* Coming UP

In our Winter 2004 issue published next month, we will focus more on the agile approaches of software development with articles on:

  • Agile Multidisciplinary Teamwork
  • Feature Driven Development
  • The Core Agility Ratio (CAR): A New Metric for Object Oriented Software Designs and Implementations
  • Adaptive Project Management Using Scrum

In our Spring 2005 (March) issue, you will find articles about Open Source Software, the Agile Unified Process, Test Driven Development and Finite State Machine Modelling. In our Summer 2005 (June) issue, we will publish articles on IDEAL and Guiding Development with Customer Tests.

Stay tuned!

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The content of this publication cannot be reproduced without prior written consent of the publisher
Copyright (C) 2004, Martinig & Associates

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