Language/library updates

PHP 5.3.1 released

PHP 5.3.1 is out, with more than 100 bug fixes. You will want to upgrade pretty quickly, since many of the fixes are for security items.

JDK 7 to have closures, mired in controversy

It looks like JDK 7 will have “simple” closures, but as InfoQ reports, this decision has angered and bewildered many in the Java community.

Dryad gets an “academic release”

Microsoft has released Dryad and DryadLINQ as an “academic release”, which means “check it out, but don’t use it in production.” Dryad is a system for writing distributed applications. Supercomputing, anyone?

.NET 4 Micro Framework goes open source

In my “huh?” moment of the month, Microsoft has open sourced the .NET Micro Framework 4, except for two little bits (the TCP/IP stack and Cryptography libraries) that contain third-party code. To my pleasant surprise, they are using the Apache 2.0 license for this as well. This is good news for everyone, and it’s nice to see Microsoft not merely abandoning the Micro Framework as some suspected the company would.

JRuby picks up steam

Engine Yard has an interesting announcement regarding the increasing adoption of JRuby. I’ve heard good things about JRuby; if you are a Ruby or a Java developer, you’ll want to see if JRuby can help you.

ASP.NET Ajax Library joins the CodePlex Foundation

The CodePlex Foundation announced that the ASP.NET Ajax Library is its first member project. I suspect that this may just be Microsoft giving up on that project in the face of competition from jQuery and others.

.NET Reactive extensions previewed

The Reactive Extensions for .NET (Rx) is now available in a preview format. This is a novel set of extensions that invert the traditional event model by using a new IObservable<T> interface. This allows the developer to subscribe to events in a way that makes it much easier to work with asynchronous patterns. Microsoft’s Somasegar has more details.

Silverlight 4 Beta released

Microsoft, which is continuing the breakneck pace of Silverlight development, announced the beta of Silverlight 4. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am actually grateful that I am not a Silverlight developer due to the pace of change. It’s just too much, too quickly for anyone to absorb.

Tools and products

JDeveloper 11g update adds loads of new features

Oracle announced the availability of JDeveloper 11g R1, with hundreds of new features, including Mazen and Bugzilla integration.

OutSystems releases Agile Platform 5.0
OutSystems has released version 5 of its Agile Platform product. I’ve seen a demo of the newest version, and the big item here is the TrueChange system, which builds a workflow engine into the platform. (Disclaimer: I recently went under contract to OutSystems to write a series of articles regarding my experiences using Agile Platform.)
RubyMine 2.0 released

JetBrains has released version 2.0 of the well-received IDE RubyMine. It’s a free upgrade, and the improvements list is quite substantial.

Amazon reaches out to .NET developers

Amazon has released an SDK for .NET developers to access its Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure. If you are looking for an alternative to Azure, AWS has quietly become a force to reckon with in the cloud computing space.

Appcelerator launches partner program

This one is a little bit older; it kind of dropped off of my radar because I was in the middle of moving when it happened. Appcelerator has announced a new partner program that provides assistance to companies getting started on their development platform. In addition, the Appcelerator platform now covers the iPhone and Android platforms, allowing developers to leverage their Web development experience into mobile development. Appcelerator is finding success with advertisers and systems integrators in particular.

ASP.NET MVC 2 Beta released

Microsoft has released the beta of ASP.NET MVC 2. I don’t use ASP.NET MVC, but I hear some good things about it, and some folks are saying that version 2 already bloats it too much. We’ll see.

More Azure details; Azure is live

Mary Jo Foley has a variety of Azure-related tidbits all rolled into one ZDNet blog post. On that note, Azure is now out of beta.

IIS SEO Toolkit and IIS URL Rewriter 2.0 RC released

Microsoft has released the final version of the IIS SEO Toolkit (which makes recommendations on improving a Web site for SEO purposes) and the IIS URL Rewriter 2.0 Release Candidate.

Add HTML 5 validation to Visual Studio and Visual Web Developer

Microsoft has released a Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Web Developer IntelliSense schema to perform HTML 5 validation. HTML 5 is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality, so it’s not a bad idea to start getting your sites and apps ready for it.

Editorial and commentary

Engine Yard helped change my mind on cloud computing

Last month, I spoke to Michael Mullany, the VP of marketing at Engine Yard; we were catching up after one of the company’s roadshows. During our conversation, he showed me a side of cloud computing that does not get enough attention; he even dramatically changed my opinion of cloud computing. He talked about how Engine Yard’s platform allows developers to perform a one-click clone of their full environment, for testing purposes. In addition, the capacity flexibility allows for a huge ramp up of resources to perform load testing, followed by a rollback of the resources. This is a lot cheaper than maintaining a massive Web farm just for load testing. Even if you end up deploying in-house, working with cloud resources definitely enables better, easier, and cheaper testing resources. Michael, thanks for helping me to see a side of this issue that I had never considered! (Engine Yard has one final roadshow on December 2nd in San Francisco.)

Apple patents the ultimate obnoxiousness

Apparently, Apple has patented a new method of handling popups. Apple’s patent covers putting up a popup that does not allow itself to be clicked away unless the user somehow proves that they actually paid attention to the advertisement, such as taking a short quiz. Sorry, Mr. Jobs, but if I am going to pay 2 – 10 times as much as your competition for something, you have no right to shove your ads in my face and then make me prove I looked at them, too. Shame on any company willing to advertise like this, too.

Whitfield Diffie weighs in on cloud computing

Computing pioneer Whitfield Diffie recently interviewed with MIT’s Technology Review regarding the security issues around cloud computing. His take? The cost of ensuring the security and privacy of cloud storage and computations offsets the savings they provide. This maps 100% to my current recommendations around cloud computing, which is to not use it for anything that would be a major crisis if the internals (storage, algorithms, etc.) became public. It’s not a slam against the cloud vendors, many of which are quite good (Amazon in particular seems pretty good); it’s just the nature of the cloud computing beast.

Refactor or rewrite? Are you out of your mind?

I read an InfoQ article that highlights my increasing annoyance with the Agile folks. Anyone who seriously considers rewriting their code on a regular basis needs to be fired. Sorry, folks, but where I come from, they don’t pay people to redo work that they already got paid to do. If the works needs to be redone because they did a poor job, then you do it for free — period. Refactoring I get — that’s like cleaning up the debris from a construction site, tidying it up, and rearranging things to be pleasant. I get it, and I fully support it. But anyone who is rewriting for the sake of readability and maintenance clearly has no clue what they are doing. If they did such a lousy job of writing maintainable code to begin with, what makes anyone think that it will be any better on the second go-round? If they were in such a time crunch before that it couldn’t be done right, why will this time be any different? I like the Agile ideas and intentions, but this kind of garbage completely discredits Agile in the minds of management.

Tips and tricks

One more reason to have a fast site

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land reports that Google looks to be adding page load speed into Google’s ranking algorithm.

Introduction to Azure

Microsoft’s Somasegar has a short tutorial on getting started with Azure.


Game building contest announced

The Games For Learning Institute has announced a contest for building mini-games to help people learn. The contest is for games that are built on the Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.1 platform, and there is a total of $2,000 in prizes on the line.


Disclosure of Justin’s industry affiliations: Justin James has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides. He is also under contract to OpenAmplify, which is owned by Hapax, to write a series of blogs, tutorials, and other articles.


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