Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Dennis Griffin, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Greg O'Connor, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Java Developer's Journal: 'To Dwell in the Future and Forget About Today'

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: 'What if ?'

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: "What if ?" They're fine in the present tense of "What if a user tries this option?" or "What if the database read fails mid flight?", but as soon as the future tense is introduced I begin to worry. "What if the database and middleware changes?" or "What if sometime soon we don't just have to run on PCs but need to work on mobile phones?" There is also the future future tense such as "What happens to the UI if the operating system is ported to run on a wrist watch?" or "What if one day the company merges with another whose corporate standard is MAC and SNA?"

My first IT job was building computer systems for Insurance Syndicates to allow them to manage their policies, collect premiums, and pay out claims to the less fortunate of their clients. It's a difficult business arena, with companies either losing or making a ton of money; our job was to provide them with systems to help stack the odds in favor of the latter. As well as supporting an existing 10-year-old application, we were all busy working on the next one, which was an entire rewrite. It suffered from all of the second-system syndrome features that usually plague such projects, where every feature, bell, and whistle that didn't get put into the first one gets incorporated.

What ultimately plagued and doomed the project was the "what if" over-engineering that went into its design. The business analysts tried to soothsay every possible scenario that would occur in the future, including some that would have required wholesale deregulation of the market and acts of parliament before they could ever become reality. Such schemes were happily programmed in with the foresight that if they were needed, a soft-coded switch could be thrown and the application would adapt itself in flight. Database rows had unused columns that, at the throw of a switch, would be activated onto users' screens and reports. The reality, of course, was that none of the scenarios that the analysts predicted ever occurred, and the amount of additional soft coding and layers of abstraction meant the software was slow and bulky. We lost almost all our market share to the competition, which just built lean, focused software. Even when big changes did occur to the market, such as the introduction of the Euro as an accounting currency, this required huge changes to the application because it naturally wasn't one of the future scenarios that had been predicted.

It's not just analysts who suffer from "whatifitis" syndrome. Programmers are just as guilty of using this as the excuse to over-engineer designs and code. The first OO project I worked on had to talk to a relational database back end, and we set about tackling this by creating code that could read and write our business objects. After a while it became apparent that the same logic was being used over and over, so this was refactored into a common set of class libraries, and behold a persistence mapping framework was born. Management got very excited about this, believing we'd built some kind of IT Rosetta stone, and talked to our software vendor who brought in some consultants. They raised the possibility that the database tables beneath our objects might change shape and we had to code for that possibility, as well as the possibility that our company might merge with another with a totally different database vendor and schema, and we should cater for that. There was a lot of buzz at the time about OO databases that just stored objects right onto disk without messy rows and tables, so to be ahead of the game our persistence layer catered to this. More and more layers of indirection were built into the code that now sat between the top-level objects and the database reads and writes. This, by now, had become soft coded to look up in dictionaries and maps to figure out what it was actually supposed to be doing at each decision point. This was a cool idea that would allow a system administrator to merely tweak the soft-coded rules and introduce wholesale change to how and where the beautiful and pure OO system would get and put its data. The system never actually shipped, because after having spent about three years building it, when the company did actually merge with another they decided it was silly to spend so much on our project; they would rather spend time patching the existing system to deal with the challenges resulting from the merger.

I'm fortunate enough now to work for a major IT vendor, yet during a recent presentation was given a reminder that "whatifitis" is still alive and well. This occurred while showing a customer a product that lets them write their code once and have it run on several different clients: green screen, Java Swing, and HTML. The business scenario is for someone who has users of all three interfaces, and while the Web or Java interface we generate isn't going to win usability awards against bespoke AJAX or Swing code, it's a good solution for companies who have hundred of screens and just don't want the hassle of many expensive bespoke interfaces. Halfway through the demo, one of the customer's architects asked, "What about the X-Box?" He'd read an article that said how games consoles were the user interface of the future and wanted to know on which release were we going to support this feature. Meeting customers is always odd because I usually only get to be in a room full of managers and their high-level architects, rather than their coders who actually get the work done. Instead of replying, "What if you stopped worrying about the future and, instead of reading airport newsstand IT magazines full of FUD, you spent some time with your users, solving their day-to-day business problems"; I gave a wishy-washy answer that didn't break my company's business conduct guidelines. Pity, what if...?

More Stories By Joe Winchester

Joe Winchester, Editor-in-Chief of Java Developer's Journal, was formerly JDJ's longtime Desktop Technologies Editor and is a software developer working on development tools for IBM in Hursley, UK.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
JDJ News Desk 05/22/06 09:02:34 AM EDT

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: 'What if ?' They're fine in the present tense of 'What if a user tries this option?' or 'What if the database read fails mid flight?', but as soon as the future tense is introduced I begin to worry. 'What if the database and middleware changes?' or 'What if sometime soon we don't just have to run on PCs but need to work on mobile phones?' There is also the future future tense such as 'What happens to the UI if the operating system is ported to run on a wrist watch?' or 'What if one day the company merges with another whose corporate standard is MAC and SNA?'

JDJ News Desk 05/22/06 08:22:55 AM EDT

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: 'What if ?' They're fine in the present tense of 'What if a user tries this option?' or 'What if the database read fails mid flight?', but as soon as the future tense is introduced I begin to worry. 'What if the database and middleware changes?' or 'What if sometime soon we don't just have to run on PCs but need to work on mobile phones?' There is also the future future tense such as 'What happens to the UI if the operating system is ported to run on a wrist watch?' or 'What if one day the company merges with another whose corporate standard is MAC and SNA?'

JDJ News Desk 05/21/06 06:08:06 PM EDT

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: 'What if ?' They're fine in the present tense of 'What if a user tries this option?' or 'What if the database read fails mid flight?', but as soon as the future tense is introduced I begin to worry. 'What if the database and middleware changes?' or 'What if sometime soon we don't just have to run on PCs but need to work on mobile phones?' There is also the future future tense such as 'What happens to the UI if the operating system is ported to run on a wrist watch?' or 'What if one day the company merges with another whose corporate standard is MAC and SNA?'

JDJ News Desk 05/21/06 05:28:20 PM EDT

Some of the words I dread most in a meeting are: 'What if ?' They're fine in the present tense of 'What if a user tries this option?' or 'What if the database read fails mid flight?', but as soon as the future tense is introduced I begin to worry. 'What if the database and middleware changes?' or 'What if sometime soon we don't just have to run on PCs but need to work on mobile phones?' There is also the future future tense such as 'What happens to the UI if the operating system is ported to run on a wrist watch?' or 'What if one day the company merges with another whose corporate standard is MAC and SNA?'

@ThingsExpo Stories
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
Containers are not new, but renewed commitments to performance, flexibility, and agility have propelled them to the top of the agenda today. By working without the need for virtualization and its overhead, containers are seen as the perfect way to deploy apps and services across multiple clouds. Containers can handle anything from file types to operating systems and services, including microservices. What are microservices? Unlike what the name implies, microservices are not necessarily small, but are focused on specific tasks. The ability for developers to deploy multiple containers – thous...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, a producer of the first smartphones and tablets, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. He will explain how M2M controllers work through wirelessly connected remote controls; and specifically delve into a retrofit option that reverse-engineers control codes of existing conventional controller systems so they don't have to be replaced and are instantly converted to become smart, connected devices.
The 3rd International WebRTC Summit, to be held Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 15th International Cloud Expo, 6th International Big Data Expo, 3rd International DevOps Summit and 2nd Internet of @ThingsExpo. WebRTC (Web-based Real-Time Communication) is an open source project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera that aims to enable bro...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevOps to advance innovation and increase agility. Specializing in designing, imple...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IceWarp will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IceWarp, the leader of cloud and on-premise messaging, delivers secured email, chat, documents, conferencing and collaboration to today's mobile workforce, all in one unified interface
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and analyzed? As an area of investment, how might a retail company move towards an innovation methodolo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on demos and comprehensive walkthroughs.
Contrary to mainstream media attention, the multiple possibilities of how consumer IoT will transform our everyday lives aren’t the only angle of this headline-gaining trend. There’s a huge opportunity for “industrial IoT” and “Smart Cities” to impact the world in the same capacity – especially during critical situations. For example, a community water dam that needs to release water can leverage embedded critical communications logic to alert the appropriate individuals, on the right device, as soon as they are needed to take action.
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts, GM of Platform at FinancialForce.com, will discuss the value of business applications on wearable ...