Tools and products

Eclipse Helios available

The Eclipse Foundation has released Eclipse Helios, the latest version of the Eclipse development platform. There are a ton of new features in it, including a revamp of the plugin download system and Git support.

Alpha Five Version 10.5

Alpha Software has released version 10.5 of its Alpha Five development environment. I’ve been given a number of demos of this product (including one last week), and between the demos I have seen and reader feedback, I really look forward to having the chance to evaluating it. I am hopefully going to be getting on the ball with it over the course of July.

OutSystems Agile Platform 5.1

OutSystems released version 5.1 of its Agile Platform product that I’ve been using a lot lately and writing about on TechRepublic. This version improves on many of the minor pain points I’ve been discussing, including automatic integration of Enterprise Manager and better patterns for using AJAX.

MonoDevelop 2.4

The Mono Project has released version 2.4 of its MonoDevelop IDE, with a number of improvements.

NetBeans 6.9

NetBeans 6.9 has been released in a final form.

db4o and .NET 4

Versant announced that its db4o object-oriented database now supports .NET 4.

New ideas in application security

Dan Kaminsky has started a new company devoted to making it easier to write secure applications. The company has released a proof-of-concept tool that shows off some of the ideas to make this happen. An interesting angle is that the tool uses variable naming conventions to do its work, which reduces the effort developers need to spend on the task.

Monitor Tomcat from your iPhone

Mulesoft has put TomcatStats onto iTunes. TomcatStats allows developers and systems administrators to manage their Tomcat servers from their iPhones.

Karmasphere Community Edition supports Eclipse, Hive support

Karmasphere has released the Community Edition of its Karmaspehre Studio tool for working with Hadoop as an Eclipse plugin. If you are interested in working with big data sets using Hadoop, you’ll want to take a look at it. In addition, Karmasphere’s new Karmasphere Studio Analyst Edition now supports Hive for data warehousing on top of Hadoop.

Cloudera updates and expands Hadoop offerings

This must be Hadoop week or something. Cloudera announced version 3 of its Cloudera Distribution for Hadoop (CDH), which integrates Hadoop and a number of other open source products into one comprehensive and unified whole. Cloudera also took the wraps of its new Cloudera Enterprise product, which builds on CDH to add management and deployment tools and offer support.

IIS Express eases ASP.NET testing

Microsoft has released IIS Express, which combines the ease-of-use of the ASP.NET engine built into Visual Studio and the full feature set of IIS. If the Visual Studio ASP.NET engine is not full-featured enough to test your application, you will want to give it a look.

Bounce makes it easy to share screenshots

The folks at Zurb have put together a scaled back version of their excellent application Notable called Bounce. Bounce lets you feed it a screenshot, clip it, annotate it, and share it with others in less than 15 seconds with no registration, for free. I really liked Notable when I reviewed it recently, and I think you will like Bounce too.

Editorial and commentary

iOS Developer Agreement loosens up a little

Apple has changed its Developer Agreement around interpreted code, and now it looks like some of the uses of interpreted code that were banned a few months ago are now allowed. While this is a good move by Apple, I still don’t think it’s enough. More importantly, given Apple’s recent history around this issue, I am not sure if I would want to stake my revenue or job to its ever-changing Terms of Service.

Usability as a “killer feature”

uTest recently performed another “Bug Battle,” this time between location check-in services Gowalla, Foursquare, and Britekite. While the results are interesting in and of themselves, what really caught my eye is that nearly 50% of respondents considered ease of use the #1 “feature” of a service, compared to the 5% who rated the deals and specials that these services tout as the #1 feature.

Agile penetrates enterprises

The consortium put together a white paper around a survey of business analysts to look at Agile usage in enterprises; it shows that Agile is being used more and more in big businesses. Two things stood out at me.

First, the report mentions that done wrong, Agile leads to project failure (although this is true of anything). Second, who judges if these organizations are actually doing Agile right? My experience with this subject is that any group that needs to explicitly follow a process in order to be Agile lacks the ability to truly be Agile. It’s not that Agile has no processes, but enterprises, for the most part, are big lumbering beasts that do what they will do and as soon as things get tough, all principles are out the window. Just as I never met a big shop that could stick to Waterfall, I really doubt most big shops that say they’re using Agile really are.

Why is ASP.NET MVC useful?

Syncfusion posted an outstanding white paper on ASP.NET MVC in which the author does an excellent job of explaining the business case behind it. The document is also a fine example of how to write a quality white paper.

Tips and tricks

Simplifying COM access in C# 4.0 with “dynamic”

Dino Esposito explains how to use the new “dynamic” type in C# 4.0 to make working with COM objects much easier.

Spring Web MVC in NetBeans 6.9

The NetBeans site has a tutorial on getting started with Spring Web MVC in the new NetBeans 6.9 IDE.

Making sense of monads

Monads are one of these semi-obscure programming concepts that have recently gained a little more visibility (for reasons unknown to me). The problem is, monads are completely unintelligible for the most part, and no one who talks about them seems to be able to explain why they are useful. Betrand LeRoy has an article that shows with code some simple monads, but he still doesn’t say why they are useful. Part two shows some monads in C# 4.

Response times and the user experience

Jakob Nielsen wrote a very good article that explains how slow Web application response times dramatically impact the user experience. Users who are forced to wait to see functionality appear on the screen actually ignore it once it is there!

IIS 7 and Web application deployment

The Visual Web Developer Team Blog recently posted a short introduction to deployment scenarios with IIS 7. I started using the Web Deploy stuff in Visual Studio 2010, and I love it.


Disclosure of Justin’s industry affiliations: Justin James has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides; he has a contract with OpenAmplify, which is owned by Hapax, to write a series of blogs, tutorials, and articles; and he has a contract with OutSystems to write articles, sample code, etc.


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