Web Services & JMS - No Problem

This month’s BCS ‘iT NOW’ magazine contains a short anonymous article entitled The problem with SOAs. It does a reasonable job of explaining what an SOA is at a high level, but I thought it might be worthwhile briefly discussing it in the context of WebSphere ESB. As with many discussions of SOA, the majority of the article is spent discussing Web Services as the invocation mechanism for SOAs. At the end it mentions JMS as a possible alternative invocation method, but says ‘implementation may be problematic’ (although doesn’t really explain why).

To clarify, WebSphere ESB can be used to construct SOA architectures that are based around Web Services or JMS, or a combination of both. Simple-to-implement SCA default bindings can also be used within the scope of an ESB cell. In fact, because it is built around SCA, the invocation mechanisms are partly abstracted away: when you construct mediation flows in WebSphere Integration Developer, all these types of ‘bindings’ appear very similar. All of this makes WebSphere ESB a powerful tool for linking together traditional messaging systems, based around JMS, with synchronous Web Services, as well as other types of services and systems using WebSphere Adapters.

For more information on SCA and why it’s useful, please see Richard Brown’s excellent posting on this topic.

As with many of my other postings about WebSphere ESB, most of what I said above also applies to WebSphere Process Server, as it is a functional superset of WebSphere ESB.

Removing the Orange Homescreen on the Nokia 6630 and Others

It appears that Orange, in their infinite wisdom, decided that they were better than Nokia at creating a usable phone, and are in the habit of replacing the standby (home) screen on their some of their smartphones with a custom Orange one. It’s actually pretty awful, as it’s unreadable, doesn’t always update correctly, and doesn’t show some useful information such as the current profile. Orange were too arrogant to admit this at first, although in their defence it looks like there will be a way to disable it on future models. I have a Nokia 6630 and this has annoyed me for some time - I also have a suspicion it has contributed to many of the crashes I seem to encounter with the phone. Fortunately someone has written a small application called HSKiller to kill this homescreen and bring back the default (the page is in French - the download link is right at the top). It has a few minor niggles, but seems to be working relatively well so far for me.

Incidentally, JJLKeyLock is also a pretty handy application for the 6630 and other Symbian S60-based phones, as it provides a timeout-based keylock, as provided on some earlier Nokia phones, but not these.

My Kingdom for a Wallet

Why oh why can’t someone make a wallet that:

  • Can hold at least ten plastic cards, some cash, and some receipts so they are easily accessible?

  • Isn’t so huge that it looks like I’m carrying a copy of War and Peace in my pocket?

  • Looks fairly smart, preferably made from leather, but not like I just bought it from Armani or some other o-so-faishonable label?

  • Lasts more than 2 weeks?

  • And most importantly, has a zip _all the way round so your stuff doesn’t fall out_?

Is this so hard? (grumble, grumble).

Wallet manufacturers: I will pay you £200 for a wallet that fulfills the above criteria. I realise this won’t cover your R&D; costs if it’s just for me, but I’m sure you could sell more of them. Please feel free to design the wallet before manufacturing it if that helps.

ESB Negates the Decline of J2EE?

Cote’ posted an article recently discussing the possible death of J2EE (Andy Piper, another blogger from here in Hursley, has noticed this too). It’s pretty hard to assess the likelihood of that happening, and I’m not sure I’m in a position to comment. However, it’s probably truthful to say that J2EE is a complex platform to get to grips with. In a sense, J2EE, although a standard and a platform, has always really been Java plus some other stuff (EJBs, Web Services, Servlets, JDBC, JMS, etc.) rather than a single entity. This means you really need to be able to claim an understanding of all of these to fully ‘get’ J2EE.

However, I feel this is one area where products such as WebSphere ESB can help. ESB builds on top of WebSphere Application Server, which is IBM’s primary implemention of a J2EE-based server. ESB allows mediation - i.e. modifying the content of Web Services, JMS-based messaging, and so on - without having to worry about a lot of the J2EE world. In fact, under-the-covers, ESB mediation modules are EJB applications that are Web Services clients, JMS clients, and so on (and this is easy to see if you know something about J2EE), but normally this is all handled by WebSphere Integration Developer and ESB without the need for understanding the nitty-gritty or doing any programming.

So it will be interesting to see software like ESB, which is enabling the development of SOAs without fully understanding J2EE, will affect the J2EE landscape. Perhaps it will be able to stay as-is and will become another layer that many people don’t want to concern themselves with. Time will tell.

How Do You Know When Documents are Ready?

So let’s imagine you’ve sent a document out to a bunch of people for their review and comments, and you’re currently going through the process of updating it with their corrections, clarification requests, and so on. How do you know when the document’s done? Well, how long is a piece of string?

I’d propose the following rule of thumb:

Take the number of valid review comments you receive from a particular person, and call that a. Take the number of times you recieve comments that require you to point someone at a part of the document they’ve missed (let’s assume it is well organised), and call that b. _ Divide _a by b - this is the review quotient.

As this number tends towards zero, you know that the document is becoming ready. For most purposes, 0.1 is probably a good threshold for determining when to stop making further changes. It’s close enough to zero that the S/N ratio is now overwhelming you, and your time is better spent on something else.

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