Friday, June 20, 2008

Tales from the Serverside Prague - Day II

Neal Ford gave a cracking keynote this morning on the evolution of programming abstractions towards domain specific languages. He talked about internal DSL's (like Apache Camel) using fluent interfaces in languages like Java, and proposed that internal DSL's work better in languagues like ruby and groovy. Ultimately though, internal DSL's are limited by the language they're embedded in, forcing you to match the parent language's syntax . In an external DSL, you design your language from scratch; this year a number of products (like mps from JetBrains) will address the problem of how to easily create domain specific languages.

There was a whole part of Neal's talk about considering XML to be "deprecated". My friend Ciaran McHale has believed this since day one ;) Neal did concede that XML is "marginally OK as a data format", but in terms of configuration or communicating intent it's overkill.

Eugene Ciurana's presentation on real-world SOA & event-driven architecture showed a really nice case study of a SOA system. One of the biggest challenges on this is how to get information from millions of network-enabled children's toys. Interesting stuff, but also interesting in terms of the price tag; he saved quite a lot of money by using open source infrastructure along with best-of-breed commercial products.

I hooked up with Ted Neward and the new editor of TSS, Peter Varhol on the way to John Davies's talk on extreme transaction processing. Ted is in great form; we had a chat about DSLs and what it might take to get the JVM to make the most of multi-core CPUs. Dammit we should have had a tape recorder; who knows though, maybe there was some secret agents knocking around. That said, many of the things we had chatted about came up again in the expert panel on next generation languages, with Ted Neward, Ola Bini and Guillaume LaForge. Ola's jRuby talk later on has shown me the light; I am now torn between going headlong into either a scala or jRuby devlopement binge.

Kirk Pepperdine blew everyone away with a presentation on Java performance and concurrency. The rise of the multi-core CPU means that now, more than ever, sloppy multi-threaded code is going to begin to throw up problems that never arose in our single CPU machines. Hmmm. Maybe I'll hang on to this old single-CPU Dell laptop for a bit longer...

I gave a fireside chat on implementing enterprise integration patterns using Apache software. I've been working with the FUSE distribution of ServiceMix, Active MQ, Camel and CXF for some time now and it was nice to get a chance to share the experience. I showed off the Camel DSL, and we went on to talk about innovation adoption (getting around the "let's just code it up in Java" objection), open source licensing (is there a best license / business model?), and whether standards really matter. On that last point I think we reached some agreement: standards matter at the edges of your system where you're working with other parties. Internally, however, you're free to do whatever you want.

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