Thursday, 24 July 2008

Dayfindr - a suitable case for viral marketing

I frequently recommend my colleague Ben Nortier's demonstration application Dayfindr. This is a simple calendar co-ordinator, allowing an arbitrarily large group of people to find a date or dates when everyone will be available to undertake some kind of joint activity, such as a meeting, theatre visit etc. Although it doesn't deal with subtleties like specific times of day, the comment facility is there to let you fine-tune your entries.

Briefly, Ben put this together as an exercise in Erlang / OTP programming and it's getting an ever-increasing amount of use simply through word-of-mouth recommendation. So far it has easily coped with everything that's been thrown at it. Every time I show it to someone, it knocks them sideways with its straightforward simplicity, robustness and speed, even though it is hosted on a virtual server with very frugal memory and processor allocations. Give it a try and see what you think!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Software Practice - The State of the Art

The British Computer Society's specialist group for Software Practice Advancement is staging a series of talks entitled The State of the Art. This features five talks from six of the leading experts in their respective fields, ranging from architecture to team dynamics.

It's excellent value at just £90 plus VAT - discounted to just £75 plus VAT for members of the specialist group or of the BCS generally. Numbers are limited, so book soon!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Maven multi-module builds and Eclipse PDE

I have not blogged about Maven and Eclipse for a while, but I have learned a couple of important new lessons recently.

1. Even though OSGI gives you the capability of supporting multiple versions of the same bundle simultaneously, the same isn't true of Eclipse features that contain those bundles (a.k.a. Eclipse plug-ins). So I discovered that when feature A depends on feature B and C, where B depends on feature D version 1.1.0 and C depends on feature D version 1.1.2, you will get two versions of feature D in your Eclipse target platform, resulting in a cryptic error message from the PDE build of the form "unable to find feature: D". What it means is that B wants version 1.1.0 of D, but this has been masked by the presence of version 1.1.2. Our likely approach to this will be to avoid putting version dependencies (at least, versions of included features) into feature.xml files at all. There is no need, after all: the precise versions of everything needed should be specified in the accompanying POM, which assembles the RCP target platform for the build.

2. If you're using multi-module builds, there is no point in using goals such as "test" or "package". Unless you at least install the artifact created during the build of each module into your local Maven repository, the next module along will still get the previous version as a dependency, and the build will fail.

3. If you're using multi-module builds, don't run the install or deploy goal in the same invocation as the site or site-deploy goal. Maven tries to generate the site documentation for the top level before it has built the subordinate levels, so the dependencies required to create the reports are not present and the build will fail. We now routinely run "mvn clean install" or "mvn clean deploy" followed by "mvn site" or "mvn site-deploy" respectively.