Feb 29

Lisa Awards: Biggest Hack for a Language Runtime

Comic, Ruby, Tech with tags: , , No Comments »

Lisa Awards: Biggest Hack for a Language Runtime

People make fun of the Ruby MRI runtime. The Java and Pythonistas giggle. What is interesting though is how it has been good enough for a lot of people. However, there is no reason for a Ruby runtime to be that slow, so it is great to see the competition across YARV, Rubinious, and of course JRuby.

The beauty of being slow, is that you have a lot of room to get faster :)

Want to learn about Ruby 1.9? Matz came to Google the other day to talk about it:

What about the other awards?

Got some ideas for awards you would give?

Feb 29

BBC takes a look at Android

Android, Mobile, Tech, iPhone 8 Comments »

Darren Waters sat down with Andy Rubin to take a look at an early version of Android:

The software stack, I was told, was Alpha, so not even Beta; but what I was shown gave a good indication that Android should be taken seriously by competitors like Windows Mobile and Symbian.

Google says they are driving the Android initiative because they want to see internet-style development on mobile platforms in the way that the openness of the web has given rise to Facebook and the Web 2.0 movement which should be able to migrate to the mobile phone.

Of course, coming in at the ground level of Android will give Google plenty of opportunity to tailor its own applications.

I got to spend some time with a few Windows Mobile devices this week. I found them incredibly hard to use. I felt like an old person using a device. I think that we forget what the iPhone has done for the mobile industry. it is just so easy to use. Going back to all of these magical keys and no touch screen is soooo painful and backwards. I can’t wait for my touchscreen-screen.

Feb 28

Gears and AIR: The Open Source Difference

Adobe, Gears, Tech 2 Comments »

AIR had their big launch this week, and I am very happy for the folks over there to have that 1.0 out in the wild. It is a huge deal. I really like the idea of taking Web technology and development skills, and expanding them out from the desktop browser into new worlds such as the mobile device and the desktop itself.

Who knew that little XHR would grow and the Ajax universe would expand in such a way that you can imagine a time 2 to 10 years from now where the world of Web vs. desktop vs. mobile no longer make sense. Many universes are combining. Surely in the future we will have APIs and services. You will be able to use JavaScript to talk to native services on a computer, as well as services in a cloud. It will all start coming together.

With Gears, you can start to see this vision. Starting with LocalServer, Database, and Workerpool; then maybe seeing notification, crypto, messaging, location, shortcut, and more.

Here we see more and more services being made available to the Web developer in a way that makes sense to them.

AIR has a set of APIs too of course, but there are a couple of differences.

1. Desktop focus

AIR is very much about building desktop applications using Flash and Ajax. If you want a desktop application, you can choose AIR as a choice versus Swing, WPF, Cocoa, etc.

Gears is about adding more value to the browser itself, and letting you keep building your Ajax applications, just with more power. We will constantly be adding more and more APIs and services for you to work with.

2. Control

Adobe develops AIR, and they have plans for the future, which I am sure are constantly changing. You have the power to change their mind by being vocal customers.

Gears is an entirely open source framework. Although Google has the majority of developers on the project, you have different advantages, due to the open source model:

  • If you are running into an issue, you can get down to the metal and look at the source code. You can even contribute a fix!
  • You can scratch your own itch. Let’s say your company has a particular Gear that you would really like to see. You can create that Gear yourself. If it is generally useful (which is normally the case) then you can propose it to the Gears community, and it can get into the Gears distribution itself. That’s right guys, you can write your own Gears. Of course, there is no guarantee that your Gear will get in the distribution. If that is the case, you still have options though. You can distribute your own MyGears. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that, but at least you have the option

This is why it is a big deal that Gears is open source. I know that it is hard when a company like Google is behind it, but I hope to see some non-Google Gears getting out there and attaching themselves to the browser service bus that is “Gears”.

Gears and AIR

Gears and AIR are very different, and although there is an overlap, they are complementary too. I would love to see some convergence in the future where Gears and AIR APIs join together. That would be a win win for everyone in my opinion. I would also love to see AIR open sourced, which isn’t a crazy idea given how Adobe has been moving in that direction for many of their projects.

Feb 28

Lisa Awards: Most Original Name for a New Language

Comic, Tech with tags: , , , 3 Comments »

Lisa Awards: Most Original Name for a New Language

You have the originally named languages of A, B, and the popular C. Then Bjarne Stroustrup gets clever and goes for C++. Anders comes along with C# and adds the musical touch.

Walter Bright creates a language that “originates as a re-engineering of C++, but even though it is predominantly influenced by that language, it is not a variant of C++. D has redesigned some C++ features and has been influenced by concepts used in other programming languages, such as Java, C# and Eiffel.”

Walter then named the language …. D.

Other entrants are of course E, and the very new Arc.

What about the other awards?

Got some ideas for awards you would give?

Feb 27

Lisa Awards: Most Format Restrictive Language

Comic, Tech with tags: , , , 1 Comment »

Lisa Awards: Most Format Restrictive Language

Fortran pre-90 was very restrictive. There is the magic of column one, the line numbers, etc.

The original Fortran was written for the IBM 704 and you programmed it on punch cards which is why the restrictions were in place. Before Fortran, most of the community were coding using assembler, and Fortran was a factor of 20 more concise. Take that modern Ruby!

There were some close runners up. Fortran 90 fixed a bunch of these issues, however it was a touch too late.
Some forms of Basic has some of the issues too, namely with the explicit line numbers.

Python should maybe win the award since it is a very modern language, and the restrictiveness that people love or hate are not due to computer needs, but rather a benevolent dictator and his opinions :)

Fortran has also won the award for “programming language name that sounds like a robot from the future”.

What about the other awards?

Got some ideas for awards you would give?

Feb 26

Lisa Awards: Best Comeback for a Programming Language

Comic, Tech with tags: , , 2 Comments »

Lisa Awards: Best Comeback for a Programming Language

If you had mentioned Erlang a few years ago people would have scoffed unless you were programming a telco switch. Now you have Ruby developers spending time checking it out, and dealing with some of the ugliness of the methodname/1 language itself.

You could argue that JavaScript is making a comeback with the Ajax universe expanding all over, but it isn’t like JavaScript has ever disappeared.

The Academy of Computing and Machinery also looked at Lisp, but that hasn’t come back yet… although maybe it will be the language for 2009? Or Smalltalk?

Erlang has previously won awards for “Best Movie for a Programming Language”:

What about the other awards?

Got some ideas for awards you would give?

Feb 25

Swing is still drowning, and how it will be hard to get some air

Java, Tech with tags: 21 Comments »

I have had several people comment on my view of Swing, where I claim it is drowning. Now some news is out in the public, I thought I would give more detail to my post.

Chet Haase came out telling people that he is now going to be creating Filthy Rich applications with Flex. His blog will be very interesting for Java developers who are interested in the switch as he himself learns the nuances of Flex, after many years in the land of Swing.

The core problem is that Swing hasn’t been updated much over recent years, especially in the area of productivity. Other companies are pushing the industry on giving you the appropriate tools for developing great user experiences, on their own platforms, and on the Web. This has never been a big push for the higher ups of Swing. Animations and flashy graphics have been relatively hard, even with some great work from the people within Swing.

So, Swing has been crawling along, and other platforms have been moving a lot faster in ways that matter. You could argue that JavaFX is a way to approach these issues, but is it too late? Also, people still equate JavaFX to JavaFX Script, and ignore the fact that you can do a lot of good graphics work in plain old Java.

If you keep going higher, you see that Sun is a hardware company that sells servers. They may have recently renamed the stock ticker to JAVA, but that doesn’t mean that they understand software. Within software itself, Sun hasn’t proven to do a great job on the client. Java on the client is a second class citizen.

Compare this to the competition. Chet moved to Adobe, and I am at their Adobe Engage event as we speak discussing their new Air 1.0 / Flex 3.0 launch.

  • Adobe develops platforms: PDF, Flash, Air
  • Adobe develops client software: Photoshop, Acrobat, Thermo, etc.
  • Adobe is investing in having its own applications running on its platforms

They are doing this slowly. Photoshop on the Web will probably take a little bit of time, and there is a lot of work thinking about the business models, moving to services vs. shrink-wrap, for example.

Then you take Microsoft, who obviously both build the platform and many applications. Ditto for Apple. Sun is the odd one out here.

Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to the Web platform, and how a huge number of people just want to migrate over there.

The fact that Sun doesn’t developer client software and isn’t investing half as much in Swing as the other platforms are make me conclude that without a huge turn around, Swing is drowning.

Feb 25

The future is mobile…. soon.

Adobe, Comic, Mobile, Tech with tags: , No Comments »

The future is mobileā€¦

I wonder if 2008 will be the tipping point over in the US where we see more developers targeting mobile versus desktop. I am sure it is going to happen some day…. but when is that?

Kevin Lynch at Engage told us that he believes we will be developing for the mobile form factor and extracting desktop interfaces from there, rather than the other way around.

I am twittering the Engage event using hashtags.

Feb 25

Emotional Hedging

British, Personal, Sport with tags: , 4 Comments »

Arsenal Fans

While in a pub in London I was listening to someone talk about an emotional hedge. This happens fairly often I believe. The fellow was a die hard Arsenal supporter. Your gut would be, if you were a betting kind of chap, to bet big on the team that you love.

However, he did the opposite and bet on the OTHER team beating his beloved. The amont of the bet was defined by “winning X amount would make me feel OK about losing the match”. So, if Arsenal win, he is happy as his team one (and who cares about money!). If Arsenal lose, bugger. But, at least he wins a few bob.

I started to think about this emotional hedging and how you can go Agile, and “turn it to 10″. What about hedging your marriage? “I bet $X that I will get divorced” To calculate the amount you need to add up how much you will lose if you are divorced (special note in California!) and add to that the amount of money that would allow you to have a midlife crisis and give you a chance getting another woman with a fancy red car ;)

I think about paying for Sam’s college. Maybe a hedge here could work? You can go down the list and hedge against it all!

NOTE: Getting someone to take your hedge when you are involved is a lot harder!

Feb 25

Lisa Awards: Most Overloaded Product Name

Adobe, Comic, Tech with tags: , 3 Comments »

Lisa Awards: Most Overloaded Product Name

In honour of the Oscar’s, which itself honours those of us who make millions of dollars for doing their job, I thought it was time for the geeks to have their own award show. This is the first in a series that awards a Lisa to those that deserve it.

To start with, Adobe announced Air today, and they win the award for “Most Overloaded Product Name” :)

In all seriousness, congrats to the Adobe team for the 1.0 release!

What about the other awards?

Got some ideas for awards you would give?