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Things to do in 2004

My personal leanings this year will be around:

  • Search. Studying AI in college, search along with machine learning was my favourite area. I'm currently of the mind that on the web, but especially across one person's data, finding things is still in the stone age. A long time ago, when I was trying to get a search project off the ground someone told me you'd have to insane to take on the search engines...
  • Tuplespaces. A RESTful Linda-like technology would be a fine augment to messaging approaches for anyone working on SOA style systems. Mainly I think they can help defer orchestration hell and provide "just-enough" workflow, but also it's fun technology.
  • Open source. In work, I push to use open source whenever possible and I'm lucky to work for a company that gets open source. It's time I started contributing code.
  • XQuery. I have mixed feelings about XQuery. I dislike the distortions XPath has been put through and I doubt XQuery is as simple as it can be. On the other hand I think being able to query XML documents declaratively rather than write reams of code is a goodness we're missing at the moment. I think it's worth spending some time on.
  • JOnAS. When I moved to Ireland, I was sure JBoss would be a certified J2EE container within twelve-eighteen months (that was over two years ago). And as much as I'm impressed by the calibre of people working on Geronimo, some things about the project remain unconvincing. The ongoing spat between the two is the last thing open source J2EE needed and is hugely disappointing. JOnAS on the other hand is turning out to be an awesome J2EE stack.
  • .NET. The reality from the Java standpoint is that if you're in the integration business, you will have to work with . NET at some point (if you're a .NET guy, invert the platforms). And .NET solutions can represent a compelling option for those that don't need the full power of J2EE, or perhaps where domain models aren't needed. There are on inspection, things to like in C# and the System libraries. I've been looking at Mono recently - in time it will force people to eat their hats. And watch out for IronPython! The question that hangs over the .NET offering is how comfortable you are with a monoculture.
  • Messaging and HTTP. I've gotten through the second implementation of a reliable HTTP delivery protocol I've been working on for a while. The protocol spec is published, but not announced as it needs to go be edited after feedback from the last implementation. I'll be announcing it soon. I also want to revisit messaging APIs for Java - the last time I looked at this was for FIPA style software agents for JSR-87. It turns out that JSR (now sadly moribound) was about two years too early. It started before the SOAP hype hit and just when corporate software R&D was being cut - work on software agents wasn't bottom line, nor did it seem relevant to Sun's suite of webservices APIs since they were (and still are) RPC-centric. Ironically it could turn out the programming needs for modern web services and SOAs are not a whole lot different from those of multi-agent systems (half the work involves replacing the word "agent" with "service"). Today there's a real need for an API that helps developers build fundamentally asynchronous systems we all seem to want. JMS, MDB and JAX* are not that API.

January 2, 2004 12:51 PM


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