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Methods & Tools - News, Facts & Comments Edition - April 2003

*** Standards ***********************************************************

* UML Moves to Two.

A recent meeting in Orlando is considered as important step towards the publication of version 2.0 of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) specification by the Object Management Group (OMG). The standard is currently in version 1.5. In its expanded version, UML will provide support for component-based development, more accurate and precise representation of relationships and better behavioral modeling. It will also provide a standardized way to define test profiles.

To get more information on UML and the OMG, surf to

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

* Adoption of Web Services

Web services are actually promoted as the solution to one of the Holy Grail of information systems: interoperability. Here are some numbers drawn from a study conducted last summer by TechMetrix Research.

Adoption status of Web services:

Not at all 11%
Thinking how to go 37%
Testing/prototyping 26%
Projects started 26%

Technical Infrastructure choices:

J2EE commercial solutions 16%
J2EE open source solutions 14%
J2EE open source and commercial solutions 22%
J2EE and Microsoft .NET solutions 26%
Microsoft .NET solutions  9%
Don't know yet 10%
Other  3%

Source: "Adoption of Web Services & Technology Choices", TrendMarkers, March 2003,

We can see that Web services are still in a very early adoption phase. Before a technology is widely used, it is always difficult to distinguish between the hype and the real advantages provided. J2EE is still preferred as a "Microsoft's neutral" option. It should however be mentioned that J2EE commercial servers from IBM, BEA or others have also extensions that "lock" customers to a specific product. Besides, you can see many very positive reviews of .NET products.

Our Summer 2003 issue will feature an article introducing Web services and our Fall 2003 issue will include an article explaining the .NET architecture. So stay tuned...

* Relational Database Market

According to a preliminary study published by the research firm IDC, Oracle had a negative growth rate in 2001-2002 and has lost market share in the relational database market. IBM has grown 9% and Microsoft 15% during the same period.

2002 Market Share

1. Oracle 39.4%
2. IBM 33.6%
3. Microsoft 11.1%
4. Sybase  3.6%
5. Teradata  1.7%

Source: IDC

There are still only three big players in this market. After the fall of Sybase's ambitions in the 90s and the financial problems of Informix that lead to its acquisition by IBM, Big Blue remains the only serious competitor to Oracle. Despite predictions, Microsoft has never managed to gain a significant market share.

It would be also interesting to know the position of non-commercial relational databases like MySQL, but free open source software do not have revenues market shares... :-]

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

* Appeasing The Gods

During construction, we use unit tests to try to find holes in our software. However, most developers we've seen skip unit testing or at best do it in an ad hoc way. The standard technique goes something like this:

  1. Write a wad of code
  2. Get scared enough about some aspect of it to feel the need to try it.
  3. Write some kind of driver that invokes the code just written. Add a few print statements to the code under test to verify it's doing what you thought it should.
  4. Run the test, eyeball the output, and then delete (or comment out) the prints.
  5. Go back to step 1.

Let us be clear this is not unit testing. This is appeasing the gods. Why invest in building tests only to throw them away after you've run them once?

Source: Andy Hunt & Dave Thomas, "Ubiquitous Automation", IEEE Software, January/February 2002

The authors are right, we are not in a discipline where we have to appease the gods (or please the software process department...). We should perform unit testing because we want to and not because we have to. I know it is sometimes difficult to imagine that the brilliant piece of code that we have just produced could have some defects. The best attitude is to consider it like the code produced from a colleague. And if it is difficult for you to be nasty, imagine that this is the kind of colleague that you would prefer NOT to work with... :-]

*** Humour *************************************************************

* A View From the Spam

What does the daily onslaught of spam tell us about the people who use the Internet? A perusal of my in-box might be instructive. But I'll tell you from the get-go, it's not pretty. If my spam is any indication, Internet users have some pretty serious problems, and not all of them are psychological.

[...] And right after I give my credit card information to those people, I guess I'll also have my brain completely removed and give them my banking data so that I can secure the lowest mortgage rates in the world outside former Yugoslavia.

[...] But most important, I suppose, is the information that Internet users are distressingly small in a number of key areas that can drastically affect social opportunities. [...] That's right, after months of studying the subject, I have come to the conclusion that Internet users have tiny penises. At least the men do. At least 50% of my spam on the subject deals with that condition. I'm starting to take it personally, but there's really no reason for that. I lived a long time ago before it occurred to me that I might want to be, you know, improved in that area, or even that such a thing was even possible. Now I don't' know. Why are they sending me this stuff? And in such profusion? Do they know something I don't?

I have literally hundred of offers from various companies that make clear what's possible in this new and exciting arena of medical practice. I clicked on one of the links once, and it sent me to a page with a picture of a lovely young woman stretching in a bathing suit, but there wasn't a whole lot of medical discussion. So it's unclear to me how it works. It must, though, or why would dozens of companies be promising the benefits?

Source: Stanley Bing, "Love Me, Love My Spam", Fortune, March 31, 2003

At least, we can laugh a bit about e-mail spamming even if we have to suffer from it. Some people think that my '.ch' means that I live in China and they keep sending me e-mail that I can't even read. But the worst is that I had once my e-mail address used in the "from:" field to send recipes for cooking babies... :-[

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

Optimize your software investment by attending the Software Management (SM) and Applications of Software Measurement (ASM)conferences June 2-6 in San Jose, CA. Get the latest measurement and management techniques to help your project teams succeed. Plus, your registration allows you to attend sessions from both conferences! Visit the conference Web site at

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