Geronimnogo

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Seems Geranium is having problems.  Can’t say didn’t tell you so Savio.

Anybody miss VB?

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Was browsing TSS today and came upon this silly post on Is Ruby the new Visual Basic? Its statements like these by the Ruby community that make me think they get how to do guerilla marketing. Make shocking, controversial statements to make noise. Marc was a master of it. Well, I’ve said it before, if Ruby becomes mainstream, it will be time for me to hang things and change my career or send the wife back to work and become Mr. Mom. Anyways…

Does anybody miss VB? Anybody miss the productivity we had in writing rich, functional, user interfaces in a crazy short amount of time? I sure do. I always despised web apps. Always felt that web apps, and this whole webflow bullshit, were a backward step for the industry and have killed productivity. Its why I’ve stuck to the server side the past 11 years and why I have zero interest in Seam beyond its innovative component model.

One of my most fondest memories was back in 1995 when I worked at Capital One.  Java had just came out and we were developing a prototype, “heavy” applet user interface.  There were no authoring tools back then to create the same rich GUIs I was used to with Visual Basic.  Still, the internet was just coming of age back then, and I was able to find a tool that could generate Java SWT code from Visual Basic, text-saved, screen metadata.  So, I mocked up the screens and application flow through Visual Basic, then ran the Java code generator on the VB files to generate my Java app.  Took Java, what? another 5 years to have even something as close to VB?  Now, the Ajax craze, and still we have crap on the web app side of things…Sad, so sad…

Clueless, Unclear, or Both on Ruby?

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In my previous blog, Go Away Ruby, Andy Oliver got a little upset with me in the comments section. In typical Andy style, he likes to strut the one thing he knows to show how much smarter he is than everybody else. His usual tactic is to state the one bug he found in an application to show how much the thing or the individual who wrote the thing sucks (to Andy, everything sucks) and how clever he was in finding this bug. Sounds like I dislike Andy, but I don’t. Andy is one of those rare people that know how to create an open source project, promote it successfully, and recruit talented volunteers to help him out. His mail project at Buni.org is a testament to this (cool stuff BTW, you should check it out).

Anyways, Andy had to go on a long rant on how clueless I was on Ruby. Maybe I am totally clueless, but I think he missed my point on what I disliked about Ruby and other languages like PHP, Perl, Tcl, VB, and Python. The last five of which I have written at least one project in. What I dislike is that these languages do not require type declaration in their syntax. Take this from the Ruby Language homepage:

 

# The Greeter class
class Greeter
  def initialize(name)
    @name = name.capitalize
  end

  def salute
    puts "Hello @name"
  end
end

# Create a new object
g =Greeter.new("world")

# Output "Hello World!"
g.salute

I dislike the fact that the initialize method does not require a return type and that the parameters of the method declaration don’t require a type either. Also, the ‘g’ variable has no syntactically assigned type either. I just don’t see how the refactoring and code analysis tools that Intellij and Eclipse have for Java could ever be mirrored in Rubyland, or even Python, Perl, Tcl, VB, or PHP for that matter. Maybe Andy is married to his VI editor, but I just can’t go back to the days of having grep and sed as my sole refactoring tools.

I am guilty though of using incorrect vocabulary to define my beef with Ruby or Andy. I should not have used typeless or dynamic typing and stuck purely to type-safety. Maybe things are clearer now?

If dynamic typing sucks, JBoss AS must suck

In the Go Away Ruby comments Andy state that if I think dynamic typing sucks (I don’t), then in turn I must also think JBoss AS sucks. In Andy’s world, java.lang.Proxy and JBoss’s Invocation object are just a workaround for the lack of dynamic typing in Java. Dynamic typing, in my mind at least, means that type is assigned at runtime and can even by augmented at runtime. JBoss is not trying to provide dynamic typing for the user, we’re trying to take a statically typed interface that the user defines and tunnel it over a generic construct. We are neither assigning type at runtime, nor are we augmenting types at runtime. The JBoss interceptors do not care or even interact with the arguments or return type of a method invocation. Yes, the transport layer need to use Java Serialization to marshal and unmarshal these objects, but, last I heard, reflection != dynamic typing. Even if JBoss’s use of proxies fell under the Andy Oliver definition of dynamic typing our use of it still does not fall under my beef with Ruby and other dynamically typed languages that don’t require type declarations. Our use of these constructs does not prevent me from using any of the powerful tools available in Intellij and Eclipse for refactoring or analyzing JBoss’s code base.

JBoss AOP and dynamic typing

JBoss AOP does try to mimic some of the features of dynamically typed languages. Or, as Andy would say, it tries to work around the fact that Java isn’t dynamically typed. Specifically, introductions and mixins. It would be cool if Java made it easier for JBoss AOP to provide this type of feature. BUT….not at the expense of relaxing type safety.

Could care less about performance Andy

And, yo Andy, when did I ever say in my blog I didn’t like languages like Ruby because they weren’t compiled? I don’t align myself to any performance debate when comparing interpretted or JITed dynamically typed languages. The debate sounds too similar to the C++/C vs. Java junk that flew around in the late 90’s. In any database or networked application, any overhead Ruby et al. have will probably be negligible compared to DB access. CPU power is cheap anyways.

Why Groovy is different

Now, in my last statement in Go Away Ruby blog, I talked about pushing Groovy over Ruby. Groovy is cool because you can write pure type-safe Java and get the zero turnaround. You get much of the nice syntax sugar that the Ruby guys have. Here’s an idea, what if we strip down Groovy and pull out all the untype-safe (vocab again 😉 ) things to get Dynamic Java?

Can I go back to my vacation?

Anyways, Andy now that you have proved how smart you are and what an idiot I am, can I go back to my vacation?

Go away Ruby

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I’ve been reading the RESTful Web Services book. I like it a lot. The only thing I don’t like is that there is too much Ruby in it. Ruby, please, go away. Might be a good scripting language, I don’t know, but to push Ruby or any typeless language for that matter as the way to do things, is just plainly irresponsible. Hey, I’ve been there. Done projects in Perl, Tcl, and Python. The 1st few weeks of the projects are highly productive. You are loving life. Then you find that you need to refactor. You need to search for usages of an object, oh, guess what, you’re screwed. Its funny to me to see that the people pushing these things are usually book writers, or get-in-get-out consultants.

Using a scripting language is like going to McDonalds. The food is quick and tastes great, but the time you spend on the toilet after just isn’t worth the whole experience. Yes, scripting gives you zero turn around development. But, if the industry is going to move to scripting, let’s rally around something type safe. How about Groovy? Sure, it has its typeless aspects, but it doesn’t stop you from doing pure type safe code. The mass of Java programmers out there can easily switch between it and Java. Or even better, improve Java (and Java EE for that matter) to make it closer to zero turn around. For example, adding the ability for schema changes in java.lang.instrument or even silly things like simplifying the package structure in Java EE.

Websphere Children’s Edition

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Its funny to see Novell re-hash a 10 month old press release that it is bundling Websphere Children’s Edition with Suse. My favorite quote from this newsclip is:

Users looking for more advanced features are steered towards paid WebSphere products, which offer more advanced features.

This is why we will never take Apache Geranium seriously.  As long as IBM is the major contributor to the project, they’ll never be interested in elevating Geranimo to the feature set of JBoss.   It will always be a hobbled platform.  This is why you should always read the fine print in vendor friendly open source projects.  If the project is dominated by a vendor which has a competing closed-source, expensive product, the project will never get anywhere.

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