Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from Tron and Ehcache


As I write, I’m cruising at 27,000 feet from Miami to Charlotte after spending part of the week on site with a client. Very productive, but the week flew by way too fast.

This week had some fairly major announcements in the Java arena. Terracotta acquired Ehcache. That’s probably the best news I’ve had all year. I am a huge proponent for Terracotta and our client uses Ehcache extensively. Even though I’m a Terracotta fanboy, I will admit I did have some questions on why they were building their own cache to support the greatly expanded Hibernate support in 3.1 versus spending time to improve on Ehcache. But I figured, “well, they are really smart guys, so I guess it makes better sense for them to roll their own.” As soon as I saw the Ehcache announcement, I was really happy. IMHO, it’s a great deal for both Terracotta and Greg. I’m looking forward to seeing how both products will improve by leaps and bounds.

One of the other big announcements for the week was SpringSource acquired Cloud Foundry. Honestly, I’d never heard of Cloud Foundry because most of my work is heavily driven by PCI and PII compliance, the “public” cloud was never really an option. However, I’m starting on some other projects that are not in the PCI/PII arena, so this is something that I will definitely be digging through.

The whole cloud space is very intriguing, but since I approach development from a sysadmin/ops/app support angle, I’m always thinking about the platform the solution is going to launch on from Day 0 of a project. I really like only paying for what I need when I need it. Which leads me into my next thought. . .

I’ve had the privilege to speak with Frank Cohen and Troy Amyett at PushToTest over the past few weeks. One of our clients is looking at their testing solution. The client currently uses one of the larger hosted load testing solutions, but as I told Frank the other day, “it’s cheaper to pay for a funeral than it is to load test my site.” I really like what I’m seeing with PushToTest. It’s as easy or hard as you want it to be. One of the largest differences between their Community and Enterprise versions is the Enterprise version allows you to spin up load test instances on a number of the popular cloud providers (Amazon, etc). To me, this is a developer’s and tester’s dream. No more having to have a third-party to write your test only to find out that the test is correct and you have to start the whole cycle over again. With PTT, I can use Selenium to “write” (record) the click tests and then use that test for functional, load and business monitoring, all with little or no changes. Then, if I need to write a JUnit test to do some other testing, I can do that as well. My only beef with PTT is their GUI. I guess I’ve been spoiled with the likes of Eclipse and IntelliJ. But for the amount of power I get with PTT, I can deal with the lack of eye candy.

One of the other amazing products that I saw this week was the mobile platform from Kony Solutions. Since I’ve been doing quite a bit of iPhone development this past year along with some Blackberry development, I was quickly seeing that hand-coding thick clients for every new device and updates to the mobile OSes is a losing battle.

Kony provides a very tricked out solution that allows you to “write once, run everywhere”. When I first heard that, I said, Yeah, right. However, based on what I have seen so far, it really seems to bring the goods. The basics is you use the Kony IDE to do all your development. It’s not WYSIWIG, but more of a layout tool. Then you can tweak the layout for specific devices (iPhone, Blackberry, etc). The other thing that is cool is that it will also create multiple mobile compliant websites that are optimized for non-smart phones, but also optimized for the iPhone Safari browser. Kony doesn’t generate code to the lowest common denominator, it generates it to the highest. For example, the iPhone ships with a native tab controller, but the Blackberry doesn’t. With Kony, they have their own tab controller. Under the hood for the iPhone code, it uses the native iPhone tab controller, but the Blackberry has a custom control written. That kind of feature alone is well worth the money.

Even though the development tools are cool, the server component is much cooler. With the exception of the iPhone, all your deployments are managed by the Kony server. There is a built in ad server (semi-cool), but there are a lot of real time management tools that make life really nice.

If you tried to roll your own solution, it would take you probably a number of months if not years to come close to what Kony can provide you today.

You may ask yourself, “how much does Kony cost”? Well, what I can say it’s more than the $99 iPhone developer fee and less than the US National Debt. This really is an enterprise product with a price tag to prove it.

Here’s the bottom line with Kony: they are targeting the enterprise level clients, not the shadetree (how can I make $1MM overnight with an iPhone app) developers. Do I think what they are charging is reasonable? Absolutely. Will most people have sticker shock? More than likely, yes. However, if you step back and look at the value of what Kony provides in their development tools and processes along with the server portion, I consider it a very reasonable deal. If you are seriously looking at a mobile solution for your company without having to really increase your staff, you really should give Kony Solutions a long hard look.

Also this week, I went old school. I mean, really old new school. I saw a tweet from someone about the new Tron soundtrack from AmazonMP3 for $1.99. Yep, you read it right, $1.99. (It was the Daily Deal for 8/19) When I went to purchase it, I noticed it was the London Philharmonic. Epic Win. It’s been playing almost non-stop in my iPod. The two songs from Journey that are on there are pretty good as well, but they are no Don’t Stop Believin’. I will admit, I’m not sure that I will go see the movie, but the soundtrack is really, really good.

Next week has some interesting items in store.

On Monday, I’m headed to the preeminent social media conference in Charlotte called SocialFresh. Now, even though I blog, have a Facebook page and tweet some, I don’t consider myself a “social media guru.” (Every time I hear that term, I grimace.) I’m not looking at getting into that space as part of our core business, but I really like to see how the presenting companies are using social media today so I can try to stay up on the information for my clients when they have questions pertaining to social media. The event is sold out, but there are networking opportunities that people can attend. If you are in the Charlotte area on Monday and you have any interest in social media, you should try to get by one of the social events.

On Tuesday, I’m breaking out the credit card and purchasing Camtasia for Mac. I’m not expecting it to be as feature rich as the Windows version (it is a v1 product), but I am looking forward to a more familiar environment to work in. I absolutely love Camtasia and I think this might be one of the best $99 that I spend this year.

I’m also headed to the rescheduled Research Triangle Software Symposium in Raleigh on Friday. I was sort of bummed it was rescheduled from earlier in the summer, but it’s actually worked out a lot better because I get to go hang with my sister and her family some while I’m there. I’m really looking forward to hearing from Mr. Career 2.0 himself, Jared Richardson, along with few of the other speakers. If you are in the RTP area or within a reasonable driving distance, you need to be at that conference.

To wrap up this week, I want to send you over to a blog post from one of my best friends and mentors for over 20 years, Scott Allen. Before there was coding, there was being a roadie; a lighting tech to be specific. Yep, mullet, ponytail and all. Scott was one of the guitar players. Scott has been writing a series on creative myths and this week’s installment is titled Creative people get paid to play. Even though the post is written primarily to musicians and production people, it really applies as well to developers. If you like it, be sure to leave a comment.

Next week, be on the lookout for information on SocialFresh recap, a new open source ecommerce platform named Broadleaf Commerce, Mobilecamp Charlotte, ProductCampRTP2 and how I’m dealing with being the surrogate father of a college freshman.

If you have any questions, leave them below or you can contact me directly.