magpiebrain

Sam Newman's site, a Consultant at ThoughtWorks

Archive for ‘February, 2004’

My posting has been somewhat infrequent of late, primarily due to time being spent job hunting. It actually went rather smoothly, however both of the jobs I was looking into had some rather rigorous application and interview procedures. Having successfully navigated both rather tortuous processes, I’ve made my choice and will be starting my new job by the end of March (don’t ask who – I ain’t going to tell). Hopefully between now and then I can knock some items off my todo list, such as:

* Site redesign (probably going to be less radical than I originally thought)
* Upgrade MT version and various plugins (Textile, MT-Blacklist)
* Research for future articles (one at the use of CSS+JSP, NanoContainer, perhaps IoC life-cycle)
* Finish my Fowler->Rest Of The World pattern dictionary (where our hero attempts to work out the mapping between Martin Fowler’s pattern names, and the names everyone else actually knows)
* Steam clean my carpets…

Well, you get the idea.

I’ve written an article giving a brief introduction on IoC for Java.net, and its been published today. For those of you already familiar with the concept it’s probably not terribly useful, but hopefully it’ll serve as a gentle introduction for those that have yet to look into it.

I’ve been semi-lurking of late on the PicoContainer’s developer mailing list, where much of the discussion has been over to the topic of the refactoring of the existing PicoContainer, PicoExtras and NanoContainer products. Given the nature of the list, the focus of the refactoring work has primarily been in order to make development and reuse of the products within other projects easier – quite often the topic of build dependencies gets mentioned. Given that I want to use PicoContainer/NanoContainer at work, it got me to thinking as to what I would need the projects to have in order for me to be able to use them. More generally, what do I need from any Opensource project in order for me to justify its use in a development project, be it Opensource or Commercial? On a post to the list, I summed this up as being able to say to my colleagues (be they fellow developers or management): “That’s what it is, here’s what it does, here’s how to use it and that’s why we are using it”.

That’s what it is

An Opensource project needs an identity. That is to say it needs a name, and something along the lines of (I’m going to hate myself for saying it) a mission statement:

Project Zebra aims to provide an Opensource, cutting edge monochrome solution to the ongoing shortage of food for lions.

It should also be available in a nice, downloadable package (or one or two at most). I want to be able to say “I just downloaded it, we have the Jars”, not “I started up SmartCVS and grabbed the most recent version”.

Here’s what it does

This should be more specific than a mission statement. I want a feature list, and perhaps even a nice comparison matrix if there are similar products available. If I can’t work this out from looking at your website for less than five minutes then why do you have one?

Project Zebra can:
* Merge into black and white foliage
* Look like a horse and yet not be able to be riden
* Provide either black zebras with white stripes, or white zebras with black stripes

Here’s how to use it

Probably the most important thing – good documentation and example programs. I may well be able to work out how to use project Zebra by looking at the code, but what about the developer sitting next to me who might have to fix my code when I’m on holiday? Having no documentation or examples might be fine for in-house development, but please be nice to your potential users.

That’s why we are using it

You need to be able to justify your use of project Zebra, and this can only be done if the previous questions can be answered. If your Opensource project cannot answer the above questions when asked of it, perhaps it should, or perhaps you should reconsider who exactly your target audience is.

Brad Choate has announced the latest version of “MT Textile”:http://www.bradchoate.com/mt-plugins/textile, which I use on this site for formatting my posts. The new version includes all kinds of new features, the support for footnotes and creation of search strings for Amazon, imdb and Google being of special interest to me.

I’ll be upgrading to this latest version when I finally get round to upgrading my MT install – but you lot don’t care as I don’t allow Textile formatting for comments 🙂