Not Alone With Websphere/RAD Issues

It’s nice to know a big name consultant like Rick Hightower is struggling mightily with Websphere Portal and RAD 6 as well:

The loading process is a 15 page document of push this button, push that button, install this, stand on your head, fill out this dialog, sacrifice a goat, scroll this list, repeat, repeat, walk around your cube backwards seven times while chanting SOA.

The scary part here is we’re wondering about how we automate anything with the horrible wizard based deployment. Hopefully there’s a well documented work around.

Then Rick runs into the same solution we hear from our IBM Websphere Partner certified consultants. “Well we can file a trouble ticket with IBM.” Basically an admission of defeat.

I am told we can put in a ticket wtih IBM, which will take about a month to resolve.

And of course resolving some of these means the IBM helpdesk person just closes it as resolved without ever fixing anything. The joy is you pay a lot of money for all of this.

Another Consultant Implementing GuruTestsCode Pattern

I sat down with a consultant our company’s hired the other day and asked about the consultant’s special skill sets. The idea was how they could help mentor/coach my team since just giving them some random coding assignment doesn’t build any lasting capacity.

So I asked about the things we need the most help with first, any experience with unit testing, TDD. Would you be able to sit with my developers and show them via some pairing? I got kinda the deer in the headlights look. Didn’t take long to figure out this consultant had very little experience with unit testing, though luckily they didn’t pretend to know more.

Anyway it turns out the consultant does unit testing. Fire up IBM RAD 6.0, drag and drop some JavaServer Faces components on the page, deploy to a local instance and then manually click and type your way through a unit test.

I can’t say I was surprised, but it’s still kinda sad. This is very much the contractor consultant model where a person jumps from contract to contract typically having some depth on a few newer technologies. They might know the technology pretty well, but the larger context of keeping up with software development practices is not a major concern. In this case the consultant may turn out to know their way around JSF pretty well which will be somewhat useful. Still is it too much to ask that a consultant know how to write unit tests?

Must Buy Eclipse Book

Eclipse has a ‘guess the button’ user interface.

–James Noble

I’m working up some JUnit examples and figuring I’ll just use Eclipse for the example code and labs, but of course big, bad, horrible interface Eclipse nips up and bites me.

It is so easy to get lost in the interface in wizard and button hell. I spent an hour trying to figure out why I couldn’t run a unit test. Turned out I had checked out the project from CVS (CVS > Checkout Projects from CVS), but I didn’t then create a new java project using the Java Project Wizard so I had a project that I thought was a Java project, but actually didn’t have any language specific features. The worst part is it’s so easy to do.

I remember now why I bought Eclipse in Action soon after playing with it back on my old Ti Powerbook. I suppose if I spent a lot of time in it the nasty interface issues would fade away to some extent, but why do I have to go through the hell.

End of rant, must get sleep. And, yes, I’m an IntelliJ IDEA fan.

Adopting TDD, Not An Easy Sell

I run a semi-regular development architecture meeting that involves pretty much all of my company’s senior java developers. On the agenda today was how to drive TDD into the development group successfully. Though not unexpected I got lots of the following:

  • Well, if you want us to write lots of unit tests it’s going to take a lot longer.
  • I’m really not sold on testing. I’m an old school developer, you’ll really have to convince me.
  • We should buy the developers a unit testing book and expect them to read it, no that probably won’t work.
  • I hate writing tests first because you’re just going to change the code and then you have to change the tests, it’s just a lot of grunt work.

The end result is right now out of the 6 senior developers in the room, only one of them has become test infected, and he can often fall back into bad habits given some time pressure. I just hope the presentations, seminars, and pair programming I’m about to embark on is successful.

Napkin Look & Feel

Reading through Ken Pugh’s Prefactoring I came across a mention of the Napkin Look & Feel Toolkit. It appears to be a very slick representation of a swing environment which looks like it could have been scrawled on a napkin.

Too bad since we pretty much only do web apps I probably won’t get to use it. It could work generically for a UI, but some of the elements like a tree menu are a lot more trouble to put together in HTML. The danger is always that the client, even from a napkin drawing, can get the wrong idea about how the UI will function. Still I might experiment with it despite the danger.