Thursday, February 08, 2007

Reader's Digest #1: Web 2.0, Ajax, JSON

Every so often I make myself a "Library Day". This tradition roots to my scientific background. We were supposed to keep one day a week for reading. It was a priviege and a duty for a scientist. It became a matter of survival for hi-tech professional, consultant, or any knowledge worker.

From now on I will be sharing selected highlights on my blog as "Reader's Digest". Regularity and volumn may and will vary, for now I target monthly issues. Today is the #1.

What the heck is Web 2.0? Beats me all the time as I get exposed to Markitecture stuff and VP talks. Here is Paul Graham's take on Web 2.0:

More from Paul Graham. I read his essey Writing, Briefly. Then I printed two copies - one for me, one for my son. We'll read it daily till it sticks. If you are into writing, tell me & I'll print you a copy. Or serve yourself:

Introduction to Ajax - simple and well laid, with references to details on Ajax components and examples of successful Ajax apps. Augmented with FAQ section.

"The biggest challenges in creating Ajax applications are not technical. The core Ajax technologies are mature, stable, and well understood. Instead, the challenges are for the designers of these applications: to forget what we think we know about the limitations of the Web, and begin to imagine a wider, richer range of possibilities."
.............. Jesse James Garrett
Ajax, Ontario, CanadaThe technologies are mature indeed, but implementations are still too complex, costly, and therefore rare. I worked on a project doing pretty much the same Ajax thing in 2000-2001. Now browsers are 3 versions up, CSS improved and DTHML became XHTML, but there no real technological breakthrough since. Browser's [un]compatibility, support of standards, maintability & testability of complex JavaScrip code, lack of tools and frameworks - the technical challenges are still there. Yet if you are a designer, time to shift a paradigm. Get ready.

From the FAQ I digressed into JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). I'm glad I landed there, and so would you if you strive for simplicity and feel that XML is too fat for your inter-app communications.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Resources from Steve McConnell

"Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking."
........... Albert Einstein

I came across some materials published at Construx. Construx is Steve McConnell founded consultancy, and sure enough they're McConnell inspired & referenced.

Ok, why getting into "lazy habit" of reading about Yet Another Software Development Methodology? How are Contrux's "best practices" any better then "best practices" from other software methodology brands? That is how I'm convincing myself into reading:

McConnell is a thought leader. You might not appreciate his heavy pseudo-engineering writing, but his ideas on software development have been influential for decades. One that resonates with me the most gets repeated in every resource on the side: "Higher quality reduces development time". I wish this one was influential - we still don’t quite get it.

Unlike so many agile folks grown from in-house or web projects, McConnell is hard core shrink-wrapped product development bone. I find his insides valuable and applicable for what I do at software vendor company.

Some materials address C level executives. In other words, he brings arguments that make sense to normal people. Are C-level executives normal people? That's a matter of another blog post.

Convinced to read? Make sure you get to the membership area for access to a great deal of good stuff.

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