Monday, October 20, 2008

Great Erlang podcast with Joe Armstrong

I've recently taken an interest in Erlang, as a way of preparing for massive muticore machines. So far, I've found the language interesting and somewhat easy to use. (This based on not much practice and some of the excellent tutorials available on the web.) Today, I'd like to share a top-notch resource for others in the same boat: an interview with Joe Armstrong on Software Engineering Radio.

For those who've never heard it before, SER is a series of podcasts on all sorts of interesting topics. The URL is here:

Joe's interview is #89. Happy listening!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tech update-- New Tools in practice

Wow, it's been a while since I've written. That's because it's been busy, busy, busy working on that very data-intensive application I wrote about last spring.

Here's an update on some lessons learned:

ELT (Doing transformations in the database instead of marshalling data in and out) is working out well. It really does save lots of time and makes the whole process more reliable.

Message oriented middleware (through Apache's ActiveMQ) is working out nicely. I really like using the 'Competing Consumer' model to scale services horizontally. Just have your service nodes read from a single queue, add more services to add more horsepower!

Mule has allowed us to easily switch back and forth between desktop and distributed modes. This helps a lot in development. Note that we still have some sore spots-- our database isn't one that lends itself to 'one per developer', so we development and testing isn't as easy as we'd like in that respect.

Automated unit testing is great. There are some parts of the application (especially those around external data sources) that aren't so easy to test. There are various techniques (i.e. dbunit, mock objects) that can be of use, but they all seem a little cumbersome. We need a better answer here.

Agile development has worked out well. This was a first exposure to rapid iterative development for some team members, so it was a bit of a slow start for some of us. Not everybody is convinced yet-- some of our developers like more complete specs before starting their work. I like it, though.

That's it for today!