Saturday, March 28, 2009

That extra push

Sitting at Cleveland Airport right now after a very interesting week in the US. First there was EclipseCon2009 with a lot of good presentations, tutorials and interesting people to meet. I learned about the latest developments and ideas around Eclipse and the modelling community which is very valuable for our Software Factory solutions.
My PMF presentation went well I think considering the number of interested parties and people asking questions afterwards. There was a lot going on in the UI space:

All had a different perspective on UI development so it was good to get more detail on these approaches. PMF focuses on the platform independent level and I was reassured that it still fills a void there. We do need a little extra push to get the project created and a first unified release out to satisfy the demands.

Talking about extra push, I visited the Cleveland Cavaliers last night and was realy impressed by the event. I have been wanting to see an NBA game live for about 25 years so it was special anyway, but the King impressed me. I had floor-level seats behind the basket on the side of Cavs bench so I could see them up close. As Lebron is the main man, you can imagine the sell-out crowd making some noise after he is hit with a flagrant foul. He was an all-state football player and stands at 6-8 and 250 pounds so he can take a hit. I was just thinking that may pump him up a little more and a few seconds afterwards he goes backdoor and throws down a great pass with authority. Take a look here to see for yourself. You might even see me in the yellow 'Witness' shirt behind the basket. Even LJ sometimes needs an extra push to rise to the top level!

EclipseCon is always an extra push for me. Hope to recover from the jetlag to get back to work and bring UI development to a new level...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Truth hits

Every once in a while you hear a song and either through the music or the lyrics alone, it touches you deeply. For me, someone who touched me a lot with his music is Van Morrison. "Cleaning windows" was the first time, as I recognized myself as a "working man in his pride", but there are numerous songs by Van the Man that hit home.
During a tough period in my life Elvis Costello's "I want you" went straight through my heart. To have a paragraph of text in a mailing list touch you deeply is extermely rare. Still that is what happened when I read one of Ed Merks' contributions last year on the e4-dev mailing list about choices in architecture. I have been meaning to blog about that statement for a while and I will try to talk to him about it at EclipseCon2009:

Given that architecture involves tradeoffs, optimal is not at an extreme end of some simple curve. There are saddle points as well as various hills, dips, and valleys. So not only is optimal difficult to find, it's difficult to define. So, a design is ultimately arrived at that makes specific tradeoffs. Then someone new comes along and finds a specific tradeoff they feel is less than optimal. They call this a fatal flaw and it represents the reason for a new expedition to explore the territories to find the top of a higher mountain. They'll likely only find another hill and likely it will be no higher (since height is ill defined), but most certainly it will be in a different location, thereby ensuring that the process will always repeat. Given enough exploration, I can hope folks will see the similarities between the hills.

I think this is view is essential when you work on software tooling, libraries and API's. I have tried to bring this point across in many discussions, but never managed to put it as eloquently as Ed did. You make choices and you try to find a sweet spot. It is always easy to find an aspect that can be improved and say you better start fresh and take care of that aspect better. Refactoring is another matter, but throwing it away to do it al yourself is what they call the NIH syndrome. Especially in an Open Source project where people invest a lot of personal time and effort into it, leaving your own 'baby' and work on someone else's software to improve it, is not always easy. In the end though, most of the time it is better to work on it together and try to bring it from good to great.

The Eclipse community is a showcase of what can be achieved if you follow that philosophy. EclipseCon is the ultimate venue to talk to people who develop software this way. Only 8 days and counting!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

PMF BOF, say what?

It's only a few weeks to EclipseCon2009 and the excitement is growing. In the last couple of months several organizations approached us to take part in PMF or at least express their interest. It assured me that the project fills a void in the Eclipse project set, but it also created a sense of responsibility. We have to do this right and serve the community well in the spirit of the Eclipse Modeling Project. If we do it right, different efforts can take advantage of each other and we can advance the state of the art in UI development. With UI Modeling the MDSD stack can cover another crucial part of the software development process.

Maybe you are wondering what PMF has to do with StUIML. Well, what's in a name? StUIML is very hard to pronounce for non-Dutchies and PMF is not a one man effort. The ideas and concepts of StUIML are taken to PMF and the name is more in parallel with other Eclipse Projects.

When you talk about user interfaces and the presentation layer in general there is such a broad spectrum to cover. From abstract modeling to very specific target platform API's, but also from developer editors or content management to enterprise application flows.
That is why I think the PMF BOF (Birds Of a Feather) is so important. We need to know what the community needs most when developing UI's. Also, it is a word that used to make my stomach hurt and my heartbeat rise, but I have to admit: 'expectation management' is important...

If you are visiting EclipseCon and you are interested in UI development or have ideas you would like to share on this subject, please come and speak out. If you want to speak out for a smaller crowd or completely anonymous drop me a line. I am very good at keeping secrets and protecting my sources....

As stated in the BOF proposal, we would like to collect ideas for example applications that all of the PMF participants can target. We can create a lab of showcases for the public to evaluate different approaches to UI modeling and MDSD development in general. We are convinced that UI modeling can make MDSD more accessible to the development community.

So speak out now, to us later!