Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The next project, data modelling, warehouse, inventory?

So, as we are about to roll out a massive project to one of our clients, a 'very' large British company, I am excited in as much as there will be new things on the horizon. Several months ago now I blogged on an upcoming project involving workflow engines, and the fact that this was something about which I new absolutely nothing. Well I find myself in the same situation now.

It looks like for another client in the UK, a well known University, we have a need to develop some kind of inventory / stores / data warehouse system. Once again, I know nothing about this, and my first thought is, 'is there an excellent open source framework out there for this?'.

I am currently researching online, and looking through various books. But this sort of thing is of course better coming from those who are experienced, anyone out there know anything about this?

My last project hooked me up with the guys at JBoss, their workflow engine is really very good, and will only get better over time. What is out their for warehousing, inventory?

Any pointers appreciated :-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Maven, to use or not to use

I have looked at Maven as a possible approach to standardise the way I work with projects in the past, and have thought it has a great deal of promise, but two things have held me back from working with it... time, and some negative reviews from people I respect in the software development circles.

Now I am working in a small company, where in between projects there is scope to work on improving project platforms, engine rooms etc, and there is definitely scope to improve reuse of code. Added to this I am sick of checking jar files to source control, it seems a bit pointless.

So I grabbed myself a PDF to read through, and intend to beef up on Mavenesque ways over the next few weeks, lets see how it goes.

I will report back in a while.

Goes quiet, pondering, where's my cup of tea?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ayee, its time for the Cocoon Get Together 2007 and I cannot go!

Tis a terrible shame but I am missing the Cocoon Get Together this year as I have a massive project deadline. Double shame because it is in Rome. Oh woe is me!

Instead I am working with British Airways on a huge project which will initially be released to some 23,000 users. No pressure.

I am sad that I cannot make it, but I will just have to get everything booked early for next year. I really enjoyed doing the presentation last year with Jeremy, and as per usual the food and beer.

I will have to get back online and back on the radar again once the deadline is over to talk to the Cocoon guys.

What with being flooded one week after moving in to our new house also, its been a pretty duff year really.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another month on, and I am still in Workflow Engine land

So, time goes by, and I am still working with workflow engines, my experience and opinions have changed somewhat.

First up I have dropped OSWorkflow, the graphical designer just did not do what I needed it to. I am now using JBPM from the JBoss folks. And not withstanding the site, which as per all other workflow sites does not point the way to a workflow engine newbie, I am very impressed with the documentation, the helpfulness of the people in the forum, and the capabilities of the product itself, including the graphical designer which is an Eclipse plugin.

The product is fairly stable, and any bugs I do find and report are not critical, so far so good. Most importantly, for a large project with one of my company's largest clients I am able to create business processes emcompassing all of their requirements.

Requirements I see to make this 'the' leading workflow engine would be some improvements to point the way for 'newbies', and a cookbook for common process definition howto's.

I am pleased that all aspects of the project are under ongoing development with regular released.

Now I am looking forward to the post project launch days where I might finally be able to go get some much needed holiday :-)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Workflow software/projects

The most poorly documented, tried and tested software I have yet encountered.. that sums it up.

Most of the projects I tried either did not work as advertised due to bugs, or were so poorly documented that it would have taken me weeks to get started.

Luckily in the case of some, there were some helpful people in the Open Source world to give me a hand getting started. Notably with OSWorkflow.

Come on guys, a couple of howto's, some some testing and a friendly to beginners site is not too much to ask?

To be fair it turns out there are some books and products coming soon for OSWorkflow, they will be helpful, just a little too late for my project unfortunately.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

First website launched on Cocoon platform at my new company

So, the first cocoon website is launched in 'beta' mode at my new company. njwfm.com is powered by the Hippo CMS, and uses the dojotoolkit.org for javascript tricks. While the site is tagged as 'beta' right now, it is more or less functional, and my colleagues are able to power their company website.

Once again, just as when I was at VNU, Cocoon has enabled me to create a website building platform, and while the entry point is still geared to developers, I aim to simplify over time to enable designers to build sites.

Using best of breed open source projects has enabled me to tackle the problem of building powerful, customisable websites, rather than fighting with jumping through needless hoops, and being forced to contend with rewrites for improving functionality available within the platform.

Not only that, but despite its 'bloat' and age, Cocoon is still after all my dabbling in frameworks, my favourite... roll on Cocoon 2.2 I can't wait for the lean mean version.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Open source issue tracking software JTrac

Just thought I would push a message out about this decent Java open source issue management project I stumbled across while researching open source issue trackers. JTrac is great, simple to setup, extensible, clean and friendly. Very easy to integrate with your websites, and to customise. Of course it is using all the best agile technologies, Spring, Hibernate etc etc. I am tempted to use it for my own projects.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Leveraging powerful frameworks

I really feel that I need to give more back to the open source world.. after all I am benefiting so massively from a number of open source frameworks. In my new role, (6 working days in), I am required to set up a web platform which is extensible, efficient, reliable and usable, and using Apache, Cocoon, Dojo and the Hippo CMS I am able to do just that. The job is not over yet, but I am confident that my new company will be very happy with the end product. Thanks to the guys at Apache, Cocoon.Apache, Dojo and Hippo.

So how to give back, I suppose I just need to get more involved in the communities! Provide feedback, ensure any problems are reported, and help to get more exposure for the different projects.

I will be sure to post more on the results of working with these frameworks in the coming weeks.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Dedicated Server with Gentoo, Apache and Webdav

Yep, still loving having my own dedicated server... and this time, I'm going to jabber about the virtues of Gentoo, Apache and Webdav.

I wanted to provide a place where my dad can store and backup his documents, so originally I considered SFTP.. not so easy, I then needed to educate on the nuances of file transfer with some special client application... Webdav steps in here as an easier alternative, drag and drop from a native windows interface.. Windows' own File Explorer.

On Gentoo.. which has arguably the best package management system, 'Portage', setting up Apache with Webdav was easy, very easy, there are plenty of howto's all available with a quick Google search.

So thats use number one for a dedicated server... use number two would have to be my subversion setup with Apache.. no more excuses, I should not be able to lose valuable work anymore.

I also get to make my code and libraries, and for that matter reference works available to me wherever I go if the internet is available. Handy!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sending and receiving invites by mail on the Mac

Yeah.. I do not have them yet.. I choose to use either the native 'Mail' program.. or Thunderbird plus the Lightning plugin.. and neither yet have stability in terms of giving me this functionality. No I am not prepared to use Microsoft's client on the mac to do this.

Looks like this is one of the last things lacking on the beautiful platform that is OS X.

The question is 'will Leopard address this with updates to 'Mail'..'? Or will the Lightning plugin get there first?

I want it and I want it now :-)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A new job, but there is still scope to use Cocoon

I just got myself a new job with a small company in Hungerford... so the bad news is I am leaving one of the biggest users of Cocoon (VNU). The good news is, the new company use Java and XML/XSLT, and seem to have many projects where Cocoon will excel as the platform.. so fingers crossed!

Meantime.. its seems people are still looking at Cocoon very seriously as a platform which demonstrates excellent separation of concerns, and a tidy way to build functional blocks. I still have not seen a better publishing framework.

Most recently.. I have also seen however that building truly dynamic applications with it is still a challenge.. so perhaps it is not the best choice for a tools based solution.

I may be proved wrong with all the effort going into the CForms recently, and I have not really looked into the portals block.

I will experiment!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fixing Broken Windows

I first heard about this concept when reading some material from the superb collection posted on www.pragmaticprogrammer.com. Basically, as and when you find problems, no matter the size or apparent importance... fix them. If you don't the analogy is with a street in disrepair, first the grafitti, and if that goes unchecked, the broken windows, and then finally masses of out of control street crime, derelict buildings and anarchy!

Now all well and good 'the business' might say, but we want to launch 3 million projects on to our platform in two weeks, and to hell with the maintenance... we want money! Fine, but then suddenly everythings looking a bit flaky, and you are firefighting for days at a time instead of actually being productive.... another saying fits the bill here...

'slowly slowly catchy monkey'.

Listen to the guys at www.pragmaticprogrammer.com, they are good!