GWT Redux: In case you missed it the first time...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Raj Rajen, the CTO of Janeeva, has recently started a cool new group around the topic of Rich Internet Applications (RIA). Raj stopped in at the Ann Arbor JUG when I gave the GWT presentation, and thought it would make a good topic for his group.

So my plan is to take the current presentation, remove some of the lessons learned that are "GWT-specific", and add a comparison of GWT to other AJAX & RIA frameworks. If you have any thoughts on what I should include, I'd love to hear from you.

The meeting will be held on May 12th at 6:00pm at Ann Arbor SPARK Central [330 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI]. See you there!

Presentation: Introduction + Lessons Learned Using Google Web Toolkit (GWT)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Over the past couple of months, I have delivered a presentation on GWT [PPT, 6MB] to a couple of JUGs (Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids). This topic has been pretty hot. At both presentations, the JUGs had twice as many attendees than usual. And the presentation was pretty well-received, so I thought I would share it for others to reuse.

Part I is an "Introduction to GWT". In that part, I stole a lot of content (with permission) from excellent presentations from Bruce Johnson & Didier Girard. Everything in Part I is pretty straightforward, and has been pretty well-received by the audience.

Part II is a bit more controversial. In Part II, I go through some lessons learned using GWT. By and large, I tried to highlight tips & tricks that I had to discover by scouring the forums and GWT books. However, I also make some recommendations that are counter to some of the prevailing conventional wisdom around GWT (as I understand it). For example,

  • I recommend working with a designer to produce HTML / CSS, and then using GWT to inject dynamic activities in the page.
  • I also recommend using multiple modules in a GWT app, and breaking up modules by user role.

I'll explain those decisions in more detail in future blog posts. But I'd love to hear from others...whether or not you agree with my decisions.

GWT Presentation in Grand Rapids

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Everyone's invited to a presentation I'll be giving on Thursday at the Grand Rapids Java User Group:

GWT: Using Java to deliver AJAX
Thu, Apr 17, 2008 at 5:30pm
Presented by Mike Burba of DevHive

Google has recently released the Google Web Toolkit, which is a library for developing AJAX-front ends for web applications. This library is very powerful, and it is gaining traction in the Java community. A developer from SE Michigan has offered to give an overview of GWT, and share lessons-learned that they have developed over the last six months while working on a mid-sized project for one of their clients.

Mike Burba went to West Point and graduated with a CS degree. After a short stint jumping out of airplanes in defense of our country, Mike left the Army to get into the software business. At that point (1999), Mike started to get into Java. He was using JEE when it was still called J2EE and before the 1.0 spec of EJB had launched. And he stayed with Java ever since. He eventually became a technical evangelist at Sun Microsystems, and then ended up at Compuware working on their Java products. Mike has presented at several Java conferences, including JavaOne, the NoFluffJustStuff series, and others. Currently, Mike and his colleagues have founded a Web 2.0, SaaS startup in SE Michigan. They are always looking for talented people, so if you're interested in the company, stop by and meet Mike after the presentation.

Meeting Location:

Calvin College, Science Bldg room 382 (map)

Meeting Agenda:

5:30pm - networking
6:00pm - meeting begins
7:00pm - closing

Reusable Software: One of the 7 Gartner IT Grand Challenges

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Basline recently published an article that listed Gartner's "7 Grand Challenges" for 2008. Check out #6:

6. Increase programmer productivity a hundredfold. As demand for software development increases, and the number of students pursuing software engineering and computer science degrees declines, meeting future demands will require increasing the output and productivity of each programmer. While tools that enhance productivity continue to capture attention, the best solution may lie in effectively and efficiently exploiting reusable code. But many challenges exist there as well, including minimizing the time required to find the perfect module and avoiding the need to modify reusable software. [emphasis added]

Agreed. And this is the power of DevHive: componentized software created by a development community financially incented to create value.

Wouldn't surprise me if #6 came from Mike Blechar, Matt Hotle, & Matt Lightner. It was their work on reusable SODA environments that inspired the initial ideas behind DevHive.

How a swarm of bees works...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Andrew Bleeda, a future technology evangelist who is currently studying at the University of Michigan sent me this cool link on bees:

I imagine this is what DevHive will look like once the Swarm the "scouts" see an area where they can provide value (e.g., financial services, insurance claims), they will lead the Swarm to build components in that space.

Many are wiser than a few...

Mama's, Please Let Your Boys (& Girls) Grow Up to Be Programmers

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

News flash to Mom's & Dad's across the country: we need more software engineers!

I remember back when I was a sophmore (a.k.a. Yearling) at West Point, and we had to declare our majors. It was 1991, and the world was a different place; the personal computer was just beginning to change the world. In fact, I was in the first class at the Academy where every cadet was issued a personal computer. So when I called home to tell my parents that I was going to declare for the brand new "Computer Science Degree", my Dad was unimpressed. His advice: "I know you've loved wasting endless hours on that 'thing' (the 'thing' was a Commodore64 that I programmed little sprite games on), but you've got to get a job that will put food on the table, and you'll never be able to make any money on that computer!" Well I love and deeply respect dear old Dad, and that made me really think about my major. However, because I was at West Point, I knew that I would have a five year service term, and that my major would have very little bearing on what job I could get in the Army or afterward. So I decided to do what I loved and I got a CS degree. I never regretted that decision. I loved every second of the programming that I did at school. And I love programming to this day. But I wonder what I would have chosen with Dad's advice and the challenge of landing a "real job" after college?

As it turns out, by the time I got out of the Army, it was 1999, and computer programmers were hot! Everybody wanted to get a CS degree. I was able to easily get a job, with great pay, and have never had any issues with employment.

However, it seem like today--in 2008--we've come full circle.

For example, an article in today's WSJ laments the dearth of jobs that will be waiting for the Class of '08. Still, they say there is still strong demand for certain skillsets...guess which ones?!

Certain skills still are in strong demand, says Ms. Chota, adding that the company can't find enough qualified graduates with degrees in computer science and those who have knowledge of both business and IT. "In the U.S., unfortunately, there are not enough great computer-science graduates," Ms. Chota says. [emphasis added]

I've seen this phenomenon with my own eyes. At a recent recruiting event at the University of Michigan, there were more than 30 companies looking for computer science grads. We were giving away trinkets, free Starbucks cards, and anything else we could think of to attract the students to our booths. On the other hand, there were only a handful of companies looking for mech & chem grads. It was almost comical to see the differences in the demand for those students. The students applying for those jobs actually wore suits (you don't have to do that with a software company ;-), and they queued up about 15-20 deep waiting for interviews.

So why aren't there enough computer science grads out there? I believe a large part of the problem stems from Mom & Dad. Today's parents are seeing the world go flat, and they are discouraging their kids from jobs that are going overseas. Rich Sheridan, the founder of Menlo Innovations, tells a story about talking to a room of CS majors at the Univeristy of Michigan. He asked them to raise their hands if their parents had discouraged them from declaring a CS major; over half raised their hands.

I understand why parents are concerned. But when it comes to computer science, nothing could be further from the truth. As Dr. Jahanian, the chair of the CS department at UM, pointed out, there are more IT jobs today than there were in early 2000, at the height of the internet bubble. And not only are there jobs, they have great starting salaries, too (see figure from WSJ).

So, please, Mom & Dad, please...let your kids become programmers...

Our first PR

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Had a nice interview with Jon Zemke, the News Editor at MetroMode yesterday. Here is the result.