State of the ThinWire Framework 2008

For those of you who have been following ThinWire, you have probably noticed that the framework has been receiving limited attention for a while now, and I want to take a few minutes to discuss why this is so that people are not left guessing.

The other thing I want to touch on is what the frameworks future will likely be and to ask if there are developers who might be interested in joining the project to help establish the future of the framework.

Where We’re At Currently

First, let me talk about the delays in development/releases. Part of the delay has been a result of backward compatibility testing that’s been going on by Custom Credit Systems (the company backing ThinWire) to make sure that the latest builds work correctly with the existing applications they have deployed with their customers. And since CCS’s customers are top U.S. banks, they tend to have a very rigorous testing process that spans months.

However, I’m not going to try and convince you that’s the only reason for the delays in ThinWire development. The other, more important, reason is that both CCS and I have been discussing various options for ThinWire’s future over the last six months. It was just about six months ago that I decided to leave CCS to consider other options. I won’t bore with you some run-on about why I left; it’s suffice to say that CCS is a good company and I just wanted to try other things since I’d been working for them for over 7yrs.

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Bypassing Java Checked Exception Verification

So, Java checked exceptions. Of all the Java hot-points, this one still has the power to invoke avid flame wars between those who feel they make the platform “enterprise” class and those who are so disgusted with writing try/catch blocks to wrap them that they are willing to defect to .Net & C# simply to escape the drudgery of it all (.Net does not have checked exceptions).

Now, to be honest, while I have tried to look at the issue from multiple perspectives over the years, I tend to find myself leaning toward the latter camp for one very simple reason:

“Checked exceptions are great in theory, but in practice lots of developers use them poorly and then the rest of us are left to clean up their mess.”

Truthfully, as a developer that’s somewhat par for the course, you get used to paying for the mistakes of other developers and to be honest I know that when pressed for time I’ve written less than stellar code that I’m sure someone else has had to clean up. It’s just part of being a developer.

However, the problem with checked exceptions is that when they are done wrong you suffer in really really ugly ways that take your suffering to completely new levels. In this article I’m going to first cover some of the various problems that exist with using checked exceptions and then… for the finale, I’m going to show you a technique I’ve started using in the ThinWire Ajax framework and other projects to force checked exceptions into behaving like plain old RuntimeExceptions. Yup, you read that correctly. If you just can’t wait to see how that’s possible, you can jump to the end.
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Keeping the User in Perspective with Ajax

Although I am a technologist and I like pushing the limits of technology, I try to look at things from a users perspective as often as possible to make sure that I’m creating value and not just making decisions that would lead to things that I think are cool. End users, as most of us know, just want an application that works well and helps them do something they find important. The technology used to implement the application does not matter to them at all. You get bonus points for going above and beyond that bar with flashy effects and eye candy, but only if you’ve got your bases covered first.

Using Ajax Makes Sense Sometimes

Development managers need to ask themselves at least these two questions before adopting Ajax on a project. First, will you make up for the time invested in adopting a new technology through increased development speed? And second, will Ajax allow you to offer a more useful application to your users? Development managers are accustom to asking the first question about new technology because most organizations keep them focused on deadlines, budgets and getting functional requirements implemented quickly. However, really great organizations encourage their development managers to think about the user experience as well.

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ThinWire At JavaOne 2007 Conference

Ok, well this is coming a bit late I realize, but we have been quite busy working on a surprise for the ThinWire community, so I haven’t had a good moment to sit down and tell everyone about our JavaOne experience. As for the surprise, details arriving soon… in another post.

As a basic exhibitor at JavaOne, we didn’t get to attend the actual sessions. This is a departure from the other conferences where you’re usually given at least one full conference pass. In the end, it probably wouldn’t have mattered that much though because I’m usually too busy talking to people about the framework to spend time in any of the conference sessions. The good news is that unlike my New York experience, I had someone along to help out. In this case it was Brian Shaw, the CCS company CEO & President. I guess it figures that he’d leave me hanging at the other shows and only pop in for an appearance at the biggest show… hehe, he knows I’m kidding. Brian has long been a major supporter of my teams effort to bring this framework to the people. In any case, here’s what the startup booth on the Pavilion floor looked like with the new and updated splashy ThinWire graphics:

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Back from AJAXWorld East 2007

I just got back last night from New York and I thought I’d spend a few minutes letting everyone know how things went. The first day was a little taxing… I had to lug a 22″ flat panel screen, large suite case with conference goodies, and my laptop bag over a half mile from my hotel to the Roosevelt hotel that was hosting the event. As a side note, I have to say that New York was quite amazing. It was my first time there and I tried not to act to much like a tourist, but I couldn’t get over how enormous the place is and how the buildings are crammed right next to each other. Additionally, it was pretty cool to see the culture and people change from street to street… lots to see and do.

In any case, after lugging everything to the hotel, I hunted down the conference reservation & sign-in desk, which was somewhat difficult to get to on a mezzanine above the lobby. After signing up, I made my way back down to the lobby and to a little landing right off the lobby where the empty ThinWire table awaited. Here’s what it look like after getting set up:

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Effective AJAX for Everyone

Well, this has been in the works since November and it’s finally arrived. An article I wrote last year titled Effective AJAX for Everyone ‘Including the Enterprise’, has just been published in the February edition of AJAXWorld magazine. The great thing about this is that you can go download the entire magazine for free, or view it online directly on AJAXWorld magazine website. The February edition is the one of the right with the title “AJAX On The Enterprise” on it’s cover. I’ve been told that the paper publication of the magazine will be available at your local news stand sometime in the next couple weeks. The prior edition appears to have made it to the Barns & Noble book stores, so keep an eye out for this latest volume:

AjaxWorld_FebMagLogo

On a related note, keep in mind that I’m going to be presenting at the AJAXWorld conference next month in New York City (March 19 – 21). So if you can, sign up for the conference and come talk to members from the ThinWire team in person. The topic I’m going to be covering is centered around the article that was just published in February’s edition, but it will be much more hands on and interactive.

Hope to see you all there!