Wednesday 23 December 2009

Week 51 of 2009

I have spent the last week tidying and fixing various OOA Tool GUI forms. The process that I am following at the moment is that I start by checking model element classes against the OOA Interchange Format DTD. Once I'm happy there, I move on to checking any associated forms against the model element classes (most have at least one GUI form). Since many of the forms perform derived calculations using temporary information from the forms, their logic must match that used in the model elements themselves. It has not always been easy to eliminate duplication here and that has lead to some errors creeping in.

I also got a little sidetracked adding a navigation button mechanism for reference fields to the form editor. As I tidy up each form now, I'm swapping old reference fields to the new ones allowing users to immediately edit/view any associated model elements. This saves a lot of time when navigating a big model. Check out the data type forms to see this in action.

I had hoped to complete and release OOA Tool 1.0 Build 014 before Christmas but that isn't going to happen now. However, I know some people would like to look at some of the features that I have implemented over the last many months, e.g. polymorphic attributes. Thus, I'm going to release an ALPHA version of OOA Tool which should not be used to create models that you want to keep since you may not be able to load the models into the BETA version that will be released in a few weeks. An ALPHA version of OOA Tool can be downloaded from the following link:

2009-12-23_OOATool014_ALPHA (8.30 MB)
Although, the release has been compiled so that it can be run using J2SE 5.0, it should really be run using Java SE 6.0 so that you can see the new Nimbus look and feel in action.

Anyway, it's almost Christmas. Things are slowing down here a lot as usual! We have had lots of snow here in Colchester which is nice. I hope everyone has a good Christmas holiday. Don't forget to start thinking up some New Year resolutions.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Week 50 of 2009

I had planned to publish this weekly report Monday but I thought I would just update a few web pages first. I then thought I would tidy up a few form classes fronting some data type classes before finishing changes to one of those pages. Now here we are and its Wednesday! I miss the discipline of working in a team reporting to someone who is always in a hurry.

Anyway, I have started checking my model classes against Version 0.05 of the OOA Interchange Format DTD and noting differences from the previous version. I've also started updating the change log on the main OOA Interchange Format page. I will also shortly be updating the change log in the OOA Tool Read Me detailing overall differences from the previous build. It's been so long since the last build was released I can't even remember what it looked like! I will continue to update these change logs until the next build is released now.

I spent most of the week in the Data Type subsystem since data types were poorly supported in the last build but are fully supported in the next build. This work is now complete except in relation to data type operators which is really part of the Operation subsystem. The only type of data type that is not supported is Composed Type which is discussed in [xtUML02]. Maybe I will add it in the future if I see a good justification for supporting it.

I also updated my References page to include the new book Model-Driven Development with Executable UML by Dragan Milicev [OOISUML09] which I bought from Amazon. It is a very meaty read (786 pages) and I have only just started to read it. Definitely a job to do while relaxing in a Coffee shop. The book discusses a new executable UML profile which it calls OOIS UML. I have yet to find a single mention of xtUML or xUML which is a bit disappointing. Obviously the author didn't want to be associated with any of this work. Dragan Milicev is based out of Belgrade and English probably isn't his first language. Yet, the text book is written in clear plain English (unlike some foreign text books). The author also presents his arguments in a logical incremental way which I like. Don't be put off by the fact that either the author or the publisher thought that the best way to market the book was to stick a big picture of the author on the book's cover! That might be a good strategy if the author was a nice looking lady since most of it's readers would be male but I'm not sure it was a good idea in this case. Anyway, once I have read more of the book, I will give a more complete review.

Monday 7 December 2009

Week 49 of 2009

A friend mentioned that I should take a look at SEMAT which is a new initiative to identify and formalize the theory behind and the kernel processes underpinning good software development practice. It's a very new initiative with a long list of supporters already. However, what do they really hope to accomplish?

Looking at the processes involved in software development is not what is lacking at present in my opinion. We really need to establish higher-order work products that are reusable across a wide user base. These higher-order work products need to be independent from but translatable to multiple platforms. This is what Shlaer-Mellor OOA/RD was (and still is via OOA09) and UML/MDA is meant to be achieving. Unfortunately, 99.99% of all developers continue to program applications with standard programming languages and techniques. As long as developers continue to mix implementation concerns into application concerns, broad reuse will continue to be a dream. An executable model capturing application concerns separately from implementation concerns is the only viable way to move the software industry forward. Who do we want to be doing implementation programming in 50 years? Us? No. Machines should be implementing solutions to our problems. We should be implementing those machines and innovating sophisticated service domains. We should be moving to a world of software factories and engineering laboratories not maintaining software sweatshops.

The articles on the SEMAT website talk about fashion and politics with regard to current software development practice. This will always be the case when you involve lots of people in any activity. I don't think there is much we can do about that. However, the basic premise behind SEMAT which is that a theory and set of kernel processes will make all the difference is wholly wrong in my opinion. I'm not against process initiatives such as the CMM (I haven't really looked at the current incarnation) which can be used to improve software quality within organizations. However, this doesn't move us away from software sweatshops it only ensures product quality and that everyone is sweating at an optimal level!

I won't be adding my support to SEMAT and I don't recommend that anyone else add their support to this mostly pointless initiative especially if you are already contributing to code generation activities elsewhere.

Rant over. I don't have much progress to report this week since I have been bogged down finished off stuff and fixing several bugs. However, I still expect to release Build 014 of OOA Tool before Christmas.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Week 48 of 2009

My Internet is back! Life is just not the same without an Internet connection anymore. My girlfriend has been pigging out at the local McDonald's which is the nearest wifi point to our house so that she can run her web business. It brings to mind the Over-Logging episode of South Park where the Internet goes down. I like Virgin as a provider in general but their phone support is unbelievably bad. Even worst than BT's phone support! I only got thru to report a fault by ringing their 'I want to leave' phone number.

Anyway, the last week has not been one of my most productive. I've gotten myself bogged down with Name Management integration changes. I've also found and fixed a few bugs. I like the improvements but what the hell was I thinking when I decided to upgrade Naming to Name Management? I should be focusing on getting Build 014 out. I'm not going to spend anymore time on this report since I'm sure you would all like to see more progress and less chatter!