Summary of the Schneide Dev Brunch at 2012-07-15

Two weeks ago, we held another Schneide Dev Brunch. The Dev Brunch is a regular brunch on a sunday, only that all attendees want to talk about software development and various other topics. If you bring a software-related topic along with your food, everyone has something to share. The brunch was so well attended that we had trouble to all find a chair and fit at the table. There were quite some new participants, so the introductory round was necessary again. Let’s have a look at the main topics we discussed:

Choosing Google Web Toolkit

If you start the development of a new web application today, there are many frameworks to call to aid. Most of them will not lend a hand, but mostly stand in the way. In a short presentation, we learnt about the arguments in favor and against the use of the Google Web Toolkit for the development of a highly customizable web application. The two most important aspects were that GWT enables desktop-like “real” (as opposed to “web”) development but still provides enough hooks to embrace the web-only developers.

Spock Framework

The Spock testing framework tries to bring natural and expressive syntax back to testing. It mixes the best of most current testing and specification frameworks together in a groovy-based domain specific language. The first contact with Spock of one of our attendees was very pleasant. The framework provides opiniated default tools for most modern testing aspects (e.g. mocking), but is extremely integrative with all current testing libraries. The take-away of this topic was: Try Spock for your next adventures in testing.

Schneide job offer

We from the Softwareschneiderei host the Dev Brunch for nearly six years now. In all these years, we grew slowly without the need to announce open job offers. Now is the time where even we have to insert a little bit of advertising into the brunch: we are hiring. Enough said.

SWT UI-based tests

The Standard Widget Toolkit is the graphical foundation of the Eclipse platform. It’s a bit dated (like most Java-based UI toolkits) and doesn’t really embrace automatic UI-based tests. There is SWTBot, but it doesn’t provide the power of a tool like FEST-Swing. We discussed the situation, but couldn’t offer much help.

Decorator pattern

Another question for discussion was the usage of the classic decorator design pattern in a rather twisted use case. Without going into much detail, the best option would have been the use of Mixins, but the environment (Java) doesn’t provide them. It was an interesting discussion with lots of different solution attempts. We didn’t find the definitive answer, but there was some good inspiration in the train of thoughts.

The programming language Go

One guest offered us a quick overview over the new programming language Go, developed by Google. To sum up a few aspects that were mentioned, Go is compiled to native code, doesn’t offer type inheritance but compile-time interface binding (if it matches, it binds) and so-called goroutines. The latter are slightly improved coroutines. The communication between objects is mostly done with channels, a very flexible event notification system. The feature with the most raised eyebrows was the visibility modifier: capitalization. If your name begins with a capital letter, it is exported. You can quickly learn the basics of the language with the web-based “Tour of Go”.

Summary of Java Forum Stuttgart

One attendee summed up his impressions and experiences with this year’s Java Forum Stuttgart, a local Java-based conference. The day was worthwile and informative, but some basic pieces went missing. For example, you weren’t provided with a notepad and a pen and had to go on a hunt at the exhibitor booths. The single extraordinary talk that you’ll remember for years didn’t happen, either. Most visited talks were solid, but not outstanding. Most noteworthy tools this year were Gerrit and Sonar.

Data loses its location

A final aspect for open discussion was the fact that stored data loses its location. With all modern web- or cloud-based services, the notion of a “storage medium” begins to lose meaning. And with the fast mobile internet access, you won’t have to reside at a specific location to access all your data. For the next generations of computer users (read: kids), data will behave like the notorious aether: always there, never affixable.

Epilogue

As usual, the Dev Brunch contained a lot more chatter and talk than listed here. The high number of attendees makes for an unique experience every time. We are looking forward to the next Dev Brunch at the Softwareschneiderei. And as always, we are open for guests and future regulars. Just drop us a notice and we’ll invite you over next time.

Summary of the Schneide Dev Brunch at 2011-07-17

Last Sunday, the 17th July of 2011, we held another Dev Brunch at our company.

A Dev Brunch is an event that brings three main ingredients together: developers, food and software industry related topics. Given enough time (there is never enough time!), we chat, eat, learn and laugh the whole evening through. Most of the stories and chitchat that is told cannot be summarized and has little value outside its context. But most participants bring a little topic alongside their food bag, something of interest they can talk like 10 minutes about. This blog post summarizes at least the official topics and gives links to additional resources.

Conference review of the Java Forum Stuttgart 2011

The Java Forum Stuttgart is an annual conference held by the Java User Group Stuttgart. It’s the biggest regional Java event and always worth a visit (as long as you understand the german language). This year, the talks stagnated a bit around topics that are mostly well-known.

The best talk was given by Michael Wiedeking from MATHEMA Software GmbH in Erlangen. The talk titled “The next big (Java) thing”, but mostly addressed the history and current state of Java in an entertaining and thought-provoking way. The premise was that you have to know the past and present to anticipate the future. The slides don’t represent the talk well enough, but here’s a link anyway.

Another session introduced the PatternTesting toolkit, a collection of helper classes and useful features that enrich the development of unit testing. Alongside the other spice you can add to unit tests, this project might be worth a look. My favorite was the @Broken annotation that ignores a test case until a given date. It’s like an @Ignore with a best-before date.

There were the usual introductory talks, for example about CouchDB and git/Egit. They were well-executed, but lacked a certain thrill if you heard about the projects before.

As a personal summary, the Java world lacks the “next big thing” a bit.Two buzz products for the next year might be Eclipse Jubula (for UI testing) and Griffon (for desktop application development).

Conference review of the Karlsruhe Entwicklertag (developer day) 2011

The Karlsruhe Entwicklertag is another annual conference, spanning several days and presenting top-notch talks and sessions. It’s the first address for software developers in Karlsruhe that want to stay up to date with current topics and products.

Some topics were presented nearly identically to the Java Forum Stuttgart (but half a year earlier if that matters), while other tracks (like the Pecha Kucha talks) can only be found here.

The buzz product for the next year might be Gerrit (for code review) and Eclipse Jubula again (for UI testing).

As a personal summary, even this conference lacked a certain drive towards real new “big picture” topics. But maybe, that’s just allright given all the hype of the last years.

The GRASP principles

This topic contained hands-on software development knowledge about the nine principles named “GRASP” or General Responsibility Assignment Software Patterns/Principles. There is nothing really new about the GRASP principles, they will only give you common names for otherwise mostly unnamed best practices or fundamental design paradigms and patterns.

We even went through some educational slides that summarize the principles. The most discussion arose about the name “Pure Fabrication” for classes without a relation to the problem domain.

If you are an average experienced software developer, spend a few minutes and scan the GRASP principles so you can combine the name with the specific content.

First-hand experiences of combining work and children

We are well within the best age to raise children. So this topic gets a lot attention, specifically the actual tipps to survive the first two years with kids and how to interact with the different administrative bodies. Germany is a welfare state, but nobody claimed that welfare should be easy or logical. We’ve learned a lot about different reference dates and unusual time partitioning.

Another insight was that working less than 40 percent isn’t really worth the hassle. You are mostly inefficient and aware of it.

That’s all, folks

As always, we shared a lot more information and anecdotes. If you want to participate at one of our Dev Brunches, let us know. We are open for guests and really interested in your topics.

Follow-up to our Dev Brunch July 2010

Last Saturday, we held our Dev Brunch for July 2010. The setting of this brunch was unusual, as we didn’t brunch, but cooked spaghetti (to be exact: had spaghetti cooked while we ranted about different workplaces). We also didn’t start in the late morning, but in the early afternoon. Later on, a LAN computer game party was held in our office, limiting our time-frame a bit. Due to rainy weather, we stayed inside and discussed the topics listed below.

The Dev Brunch

If you want to know more about the meaning of the term “Dev Brunch” or how we implement it, have a look at the follow-up posting of the brunch in October 2009. We continue to allow presence over topics. Our topics for the brunch were:

  • Your own Java ResourceBundle implementation – Since Java 6, there is the new possibility to add your own ResourceBundle formats under the generic API using ResourceBundle.Control. We discussed several possible use cases and had an example case mocked up in source code. The API enables you to do what was impossible beforehands but isn’t as polished as it could be. Worth a closer look if you want to combine ResourceBundle with your i18n database, for example.
  • Thoughts on “Team Rooms” – Lately, there was a very good blog entry about team rooms and how they are introduced by Martin Fowler. The article is titled “The rise of the cattle office” and has some valid points. But nearly every attendee of the brunch likes working in a team room. We had a great discussion that can’t be summarized in a single sentence, but one advice: Mr. Fowler, please put up some nicer teaser image in your bliki!
  • Retrospective of the Java Forum Stuttgart 2010 – The Java Forum Stuttgart 2010 is a local conference dedicated to Java. It grew into a 1k+ developer’s meeting for southwest germany. You cannot avoid to meet former colleagues and chat non-stop in the pauses. The presentations are mostly very professional and worthwhile. We learnt a bit about long-term serialization issues (put a version in your XML namespace!), better JUnit (Rules are cool!), some Dependency Injection myths (though this presentation could have been snappier) and got introduced to Apache Hadoop (Map/Reduce at its best). Embedded Java still is the hell we remembered it to be. But the best presentation of the day clearly was Dr. Simon Wiest talking about Hudson and advanced techniques to speed up your build.

Retrospection of the brunch

The group of attendees was small again, with several firsttime guests. This helped the disgression factor a lot, we talked a lot about all kinds of topics that didn’t make it on the list above. The time and setup was a bit unusual, but the brunch itself was fun and insightful as always.