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Methods & Tools - News, Facts & Comments Edition - August 2006

*** News ***************************************************************

* Adobe Wants to be Rich with Rich Interface

At the end of June, Adobe announced the launch of its Flex 2 product line and Flash 9 player. Adobe implemented Flex as an ActionScript class library. That class library contains components (containers and controls), manager classes, data-service classes, and classes for all other features. Applications are developed using the MXML and ActionScript languages with the class library. The compiled applications run in the Flash 9 player. With this new release, Adobe will offer free downloads of the Flex Data Services 2 and Flex framework and SDK. The Flex framework is a component-based development framework for delivering rich Internet applications for the Flash Player runtime.

The release of this new product line is important in the battle for developing improved Web applications' interface. The Adobe proprietary Flash model is in competition with Ajax, an approach based on "standard" technologies like JavaScript, XML and HTML. Although we are living in a world where openness is a quality for software products, Adobe's proprietary solution has good chances to remain a key element in the Web interface market. The company has refined the strategy that has made Acrobat's PDF the preferred format for presenting and exchanging documents on the Web. In addition of the free "reader" (the Flash player), it is now also giving away a free basic development kit (Flex SDK) to promote its technology. It will still make some money selling the Flex Builder product. Beyond the Web, Adobe is also aiming to manage another important interface: the mobile phone. Giving away free products now could be a good investment for future market share.


* Mercury Passed HP Tests

Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced at the end of July the acquisition of Mercury Interactive for $4.5 billion in cash. Mercury is the editor of the test automation and management tools LoadRunner, TestDirector and WinRunner. This is the largest acquisition of HP since it bought Compaq for $19 billion in 2002. The acquisition will enable HP to double its annual software sales to about $2 billion

The acquisition of Mercury interactive is another action from HP to change its sales mix by adding software products. Software provides usually higher margins than the traditional hardware products. With total revenues of 86 billions in 2005 for HP, software will still only account for a relatively small percentage of its sales, even if it could have a greater influence on the income statement. For Mercury customers this is good news as the medium term outlook of their supplier is improved by HP financial capabilities. Mercury should continue to operate with relative independance.

Mercury is however a risky financial transaction for HP. The company has been recently delisted from the NASDAQ, has fired its top executives for stock options manipulation and restated it financial results for several past years, erasing $525 millions in profits dating back to 1992. HP had already acquired another enterprise software supplier when it decided to buy Peregrine in September 2005. Peregrine was also a troubled and delisted company. If buying troubled companies can result in lower prices, it could also bring additional problems as former shareholders have initiated lawsuits against them. HP just hopes that the benefits of its strategy will offset the disadvantages.


* M&T Press Releases Forums

You can view the last product and company press releases from software development tools vendors on our forum.

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

* Quality of Open Source Software Development Tools

More and more developers are using development tools produced by the open source community like MySQL, Eclipse, PHP or JBoss. Our last poll examined how the quality of open source tools is perceived against their commercial competitors. We run a similar poll 2 years ago and it was interesting to compare the results.

Open source versus commercial tools  2006  2004
Same quality 38%  32%
There is no easy answer to this question 22% 24%
Superior in quality 20% 26%
Inferior in quality  12% 13%
I do not use open source tools 6% 4%
I do not use commercial tools 2% 1%
Participants  524 312

For many participants, there is no difference in perceived quality between open source and commercial tools for software development. For 22% of the participants, it was difficult to give a precise answer. Diversity exists in both worlds and it is not easy to give a clear indication when you have experiences giving opposite indications. Things have not changed a lot since our 2004 poll, even if the usage of open source tools has surely increased in the mainstream development shop. This may be a reason of the 6% decline in percentage in the "OS software is better than commercial" category, as open source has been more used and could revealed some limits.

The claim that open source software is as good as commercial one seems easy to understand. Besides their open source label, there is little difference in the available support infrastructure between products like JBoss, PHP or MySQL and their commercial competitor. Backed by large companies like IBM, products like Apache or Eclipse will surely receive more testing than a small project in SourceForge. For open source software development tools, a large user base also increases the probability that associated professional services are created to provide commercial support and that the quality of the software is "commercially" managed.

For 20% of the participants, open source development tools are superior in quality to commercial ones. Besides the results of our informal pool, there have been some studies to compare the quality of open source and commercial products. Part of these studies have investigated a claim by many open source software advocates that their code quality was higher. Peer review and the amount of feedback from users are quoted as allowing open source software to achieve high quality results. When it decided to release some software in the open source world the NASA gives "to increase NASA software quality via community peer review " as its first motivation (see references). But if the size of the development team and a smaller user base could be a problem for small vendors, larger commercial organisations could also have implemented internal peer review and they have also a user community with adequate feedback channels. So why could the feedback loops and quality perception be better in the open source community?

Several factors could influence this perception:

- Developers and users (not customers!) have a higher sense of product's ownership. They feel that they both contribute to something special and it is not "just a job" or "just a product"

- The relationship between users and developers are less confrontational because
a) money is not the matter
b) expectations are often different: the product is "younger" and... there is not a marketing organisation sometimes over-selling the benefits ;o)
c) open source organisations seems to have a better responsiveness to customers request/bugs as the process is more collaborative than confrontational

Some references on the quality of open source software


* Are you using coding standards?

Our current poll wants to know if programming standards are still in use in development organisations... and if they are controlled ;o)

Go to our [Poll] page to participate and to see intermediate results.


* Archived Polls from Methods & Tools

We have created a page where you can now view the results of all our previous polls:

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

STARWEST 2006 – Int’l Conference on Software Testing Analysis & Review

October 16-20, 2006 | The Disneyland Hotel | Anaheim, CA
Attend The Greatest Software Testing Conference on Earth! Build your own conference from more than 75 sessions to fit your testing role, skill level, and software environment.


* EclipseWorld, September 6-8, Boston

EclipseWorld is the industry's first independent conference for enterprise software developers, architects and development managers using Eclipse tools and technologies. With more than 60 technical classes, developers will learn about the wide range of Eclipse projects that you can use today. Join us Sept. 6-8 in Boston.


* The Future of Web Apps, September 13-14, San Francisco

Two-day conference focusing on the development technology you'll be using tomorrow. Discover how the web's most successful sites and applications were built, plus get expert practical advice from the best in the business on creating your own web app. Whether you're a developer, business owner or entrepreneur, join us for this exclusive two-day audience with the biggest names in web development. Register now and get 25% off!


* BASTA!, September 18-21, Mainz, Germany

BASTA! is the leading German-speaking event for Microsoft Technologies taking place from 18 ­ 21 Sept. 2006 in Mainz, Germany. The event offers diverse sessions held by accredited experts and you can meet the .NET community and industry to share your ideas and discuss future developments. Come and join us for this outstanding conference!


* EuroDevCon September 25-29 2006, Frankfurt, Germany

The EuroDevCon from 25-29 September 2006 in Frankfurt, Germany, has built a solid reputation as one of the most informative technical conferences in the industry. Learn more about Delphi, Eclipse, .NET, Java, JBuilder and more and choose from a huge amount of sessions to advance your mastery of development skills!


CONQUEST 2006, 9th international Conference on Quality Engineering in Software Technology, September 27-29, 2006, Berlin, Germany

Join Germany’s most important software quality conference! This years’ topic is "Software Quality in Service-Oriented Architectures". The program contains more than 50 lectures and discussions. In 12 sessions topics like Project Management, Test Design and Requirements Engineering will be considered. Register now at:


* AJAXWorld Conference & Expo October 2-4th in Santa Clara, CA

AJAXWorld Conference & Expo 2006 provides the AJAX community with a showcase of what's been achieved to date in terms of frameworks, toolkits and best practices, as well as a vibrant forum in which to discuss and learn where AJAX will take the Web – and your applications – next!

To find out more please go to
or register at


Pacific NW Software Quality Conference, October 9-11, Portland, Oregon, USA

Quality – A Competitive Advantage, 3-Day Conference $950, Discounts available.
Two days of Invited Speakers, Technical Papers, Exhibits, Open Space
Arena and Panel Discussions, plus one full-day workshop.
Topics include Management, Process, Testing, Metrics, Tools, Open Source


* VERIFY 2006 Conference October 10-11, Washington DC

VERIFY 2006 addresses technical software testing solutions, i.e. security-, database-, automated-, agile-testing, test modeling, etc. Effective Software Testing requires technical skills, and the conference provides a strong technical program presented by industry leaders and published authors experienced with actual software implementations. Keynote, feature and track presentations plus half-day tutorials.


* Zend/PHP Conference and Expo October 31-November 2 2006, San Jose, USA

The conference, "Creating Modern Web Applications with PHP", will be held at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, California. The conference will include both business and technical sessions targeted at executive management and technical staff as well as keynotes from leading members of the PHP community. New this year is a Framework Pavilion in which API providers will showcase best practices for creating PHP applications for their web services.


* International PHP Conference November 5-8 2006, Frankfurt, Germany

The International PHP Conference from 5-8 November 2006 in Frankfurt, Germany, is the leading conference for PHP technologies serving as a meeting point and networking platform for the PHP community. You can choose from over 50 sessions and learn first-hand about the latest developments. Register today for this outstanding event!


* Open Source Database Conference, November 6-8 2006, Frankfurt, Germany

The Open Source Database Conference in Frankfurt, Germany, from Nov. 6-8, 2006 attracts IT professionals, over 15 quality speakers, including visionaries and luminaries, and over 20 businesses from all over the world benefiting from the event’s extensive visibility Don’t miss this community event and register today!


* ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts, November 6-9 2006 Orlando, USA

Don’t miss the annual ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts USA event, November 6-9, 2006 in Orlando, FL. Join over 1,000 of your industry peers as you learn how to combine the Benefits of Project Management with the Strategic Value of Business Analysis showcased by Real World Practitioners. Please visit & for more information. Mention Priority Code: XM1820CH


* Agile Business Conference 2006, 7-9 November, London

This 3 day event is a forum for agile software development professionals to network and share new ideas with others involved in the emerging agile movement in Europe. Established thought leaders on Agile are presenting at the conference so this will be a great opportunity for you to ask them the difficult questions.


* Software Test & Performance, November 7-9, 2006 Boston

With over 70 classes, you won’t want to miss the chance to improve the quality of your software, optimize your Web testing strategies, and network with other test/QA and software development professionals. Attend the Software Test & Performance Conference, Nov 7-9, 2006 Boston. Register today!


* XP Day Benelux 2006, November 16-17, Mechelen, Belgium

In the tradition of the XP Day conferences, XP Day Benelux 2006 is a two day conference on all things agile for business and technical people from all walks of life. This year's edition will be held in Mechelen, Belgium on November 16th and 17th.


* XP Day UK 2006, November 27-28 2006, London, UK

More than XP. More than one day. An international conference for project managers, developers, and testers.

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

* Software Development Article Portal

Surfing on the Web looking for material for Methods & Tools, I often find many good articles published by other publications or only available on personal or company sites. I have now decided to create a site where this knowledge could be reached and shared more easily.

On, you will find the initial results of this compilation effort and you would be able to add your own material, using an open source system that allows to classify an item in multiple categories. You contributions and comments are welcomed.


* Future Issues of Methods & Tools

In future issues, you will find articles on:

  • Framework-based Web Development with Ruby on Rails
  • Software Product Lines
  • Creating Domain-specific Modelling Language
  • Feature Modelling
  • Database Testing
  • Process Improvement – Is it a Lottery?
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Agile Architectural Reference Model


* Professional Recruitment with Methods & Tools

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You can place a job ad with us for $15 each line for the first five lines and $10 for additional lines. These ads will be visible in our text or PDF issues AND on our web sites for as long as three months. [Contact] us if you are interested.

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