February 2011 Archives

Intel Thunderbolt Technology, "developers will have a blast," apparently

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Intel's reputation pulled in somewhere around 75 journalists and analysts onto a briefing call last night, with an invite specifying nothing more than, "We can't tell you what it's about."

This magical mystery call turned out to be the launch of Intel's Thunderbolt (no relation to the kid), which is a new high-speed PC connection technology that runs at 10Gbps supporting both data and display on a single cable -- with Apple as the first OEM to ship it in a new line of MacBook Pro laptops.

"We're thrilled to collaborate with Intel to bring Thunderbolt technology to Mac users," said Bob Mansfield, Apple's senior vice president of Mac hardware engineering. "With ultra-fast transfer speeds, support for high-resolution displays and compatibility with existing I/O technologies, Thunderbolt is a breakthrough for the entire industry and we think developers are going to have a blast with it."

Really? That's cool, how? Actually, he didn't say so much really.

Originally codenamed LightPeak, this next-generation data transfer interconnect has largely been previewed at the Intel Developer Forum conferences first appearing in 2009. The developer proposition being (if I've got this right) that with the explosion of HD-video and rich media, not only is a new level of data storage necessitated -- but applications will need to support high speed multi-protocol & multi-format data transfer flows as well. If they are to perform efficiently that is.

Thunderbolt's simultaneous data and video throughput capability - courtesy Intel.jpg

Intel says that running at 10Gbps, Thunderbolt technology can transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds. "With Thunderbolt technology, Intel has delivered technology to help professionals and consumers work faster and more easily with their growing collection of media content, from music to HD movies. We've taken the vision of simple, fast transfer of content between PCs and devices, and made it a reality," said Mooly Eden, general manager, PC Client Group, Intel.

Apple's next operating system: OS X Lion developer preview awakes

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The developer preview of Apple's Mac OS X Lion has been awoken, the lion is about to roar, the big cat is about to flex its muscles and the king of the jungle is about to lead the pride forward.

Right, now that we've got most of the clichéd headlines out of the way (oh and I'm sure there will be more), let's actually take a very quick look at what's new.

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Apple says that Lion features a new feature known as Mission Control to view everything running on any given machine (think of a unified Exposé, Dashboard and Spaces); a new application hub called Launchpad; a fresh option to run apps across a machine's FULL screen; and support for new Multi-Touch gestures.

"The Lion preview is available to Mac Developer Program members through the Mac App Store today and the final version of Lion will ship to customers this summer," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. "Developers are going to love Mission Control and Launchpad and can now start adding great new Lion features like full screen, gestures, Versions and Auto Save to their own apps."

Additional features in Lion include: a new version of Mail, AirDrop for file copying, Versions for automatic successive documents saves, Resume to brings apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app -- and the new FileVault function to provide disk encryption for local and external drives.

Mac OS X Lion Server will also be introduced with support for OS X Lion, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices.

Adobe asks how do developers decide which platform to target?

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The trouble with a big IT shows is that they are, by definition, just so big. Looking at the glut of content that was pumped out during last week's Mobile World Congress, I still have plenty to go through. But one of the more interesting meetings I had was with Ben Forta who is senior technical evangelist at Adobe.

English by birth, Forta speaks so volubly and enthusiastically that one American seminar audience once had to ask for a translator during one of his presentations. But don't take that the wrong way - he's fun.

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Forta spoke of the fragmentation that we are currently witnessing across the device market and the challenges that this throws up for developers from an operating system point of view.

"With Android, Windows Phone 7, iOS, BlackBerry Playbook etc. to consider, as a developer you have to ask yourself how you are going to hedge your bets and decide which platform you are going to target," Forta told me.

The answer, in part, lies in web standards and interoperability - and initiatives including the Wholesale Applications Community (a body established to encourage the adoption of open standardised technologies for mobile applications) did push forward with its 2.0 specification announcement at the show itself.

Adobe's Forta spoke more specifically on interoperability of applications on the web, saying that Flash basically aims to take up where HTML left off. "But HTML has grown up and developers using CSS and JavaScript can get away without using Flash now. Buy hey, Adobe is still pleased about this as Dreamweaver is still the number one HTML editor out there and CSS integrates with it on many levels - and if you take these applications out of the browser then you need Flash," said Forta.

Linking interoperability issues to open source, Forta went on to talk about the tooling work that Adobe is focused on. The company is contributing to the WebKit open source web browser engine, the JQuery cross-browser JavaScript library as well as Apache and SQLite. Oh and the Flex SDK is open source too.

Adobe was actually more interested in talking about performance advancements with Flash Player 10.2 and the fact that by the end of 2011 the company expects more than 200 million smartphones and tablets to support Adobe AIR applications. As a key element of the Adobe Flash Platform, AIR enables developers to leverage existing code to create and deliver standalone applications across devices and platforms.

Adobe AIR supports smartphones and tablets based on Android, iOS, BlackBerry Tablet OS, and desktops including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems. So you can see how Forta's argument was coming full circle, even if the company is still plugging the same old stats about Flash being deployed on 98% of desktops worldwide.

So what's next from Adobe?

Well this was a more cerebral meeting to be honest, the company's major product announcements actually centred around its new digital publishing solution which you will have witnessed yourself if you have downloaded the WIRED magazine iPad app. But that's for another blog on another day.

Defining dangerous developer "defect density"

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I'm on a personal mission this month to learn as much as I can about software defects, software integrity and code defects right down to the kernel level -- or least as close as I can get.

The issue at hand is that you'll typically find software code analysis firms talking at a high level about code defects, but they rarely sit back and lay down a succinct definition of what manifests a defect and how we measure it.

Put simply, defect density is:

Total Number of Known Defects
-------------------------------------
Total Size of Application Code

Or in other words, defect density is a ration of the ratio of number of defects in relation to the size of the software program -- and this is typically measured as a percentage used to express in lines of code (LOC) or function points (FP).

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Defect density can be used to analyse individual software components prior to roll out, or it can be applied between release cycles to gauge how well a code base is improving (or not!) over time.

Vocal companies in this field include Coverity and also Microsoft -- so on the MSDN resources the company features a white paper on this subject authored by Nachiappan Nagappan and Thomas Ball who say that, "Software systems evolve over time due to changes in requirements, optimisation of code, fixes for security and reliability bugs etc. Code churn, which measures the changes made to a component over a period of time, quantifies the extent of this change. We present a technique for early prediction of system defect density using a set of relative code churn measures that relate the amount of churn to other variables such as component size and the temporal extent of churn."

Application migration for Windows 7 SP1 & Server 2008 R2 SP1

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If you have a keen eye for dates then you may have noticed that Windows 7 SP1 and Server 2008 R2 SP1 are due for public launch on the 22nd February 2011. This update naturally throws up certain questions for enterprises in terms of application migration.

Sheldon Lachambre, head of engineering for application compatibility company App-DNA says that this is effectively a rollup of updates that have been provided on Windows Update over the past few months.

For Server 2008 R2, there are some additional features such as Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX, both of which are detailed in the Microsoft Virtualisation Team Blog.

So, just a few bug fixes and security roll-ups - or is there more?

Are there really no big changes in the Windows 7 SP1 & Server 2008 R2 SP1 releases?

"Well no," says Lachambre. "According to our analysis there are areas that are that have changed, namely the file system, the registry and the shim database, however with the exception of the shim database these changes are generally inconsequential with regard to application compatibility."

This may seem self-evident based on the announcement; however let's explore these changes in more detail.

MWC 2011: Bridgewater Systems, one "e" too many asks Bridgwater?

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Picture the scene - I just had to do this. Mobile World Congress 2011 is in full swing, spokespeople and stand girls are working the floor hard and a journalist walks up to Canadian intelligent broadband controls company Bridgewater Systems and starts to say hello.

Adrian Bridgwater: "Hi there, I like your company!"
(arm strategically placed over name badge)

Bridgewater Systems: "Hey thanks! Which media do you work for?"

Adrian Bridgwater: "I'm here as a freelancer - but anyway, like I say, I like your company, I just don't like your name. Such bad branding don't you think?"
(colour drains from spokespersons face)

Bridgewater Systems: "Well, umm, gosh - ah, well, we like it."
(arm removed from lanyard to show Adrian Bridgwater name badge)

Adrian Bridgwater: "Ah, I'm just kidding, tell me about how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has selected and rapidly implemented the Bridgewater Policy Controller for data traffic (PCRF) to manage mobile data communication growth and deliver services on Mobily's nationwide 3G/HSPA+ network."
(colour returns to spokesperson's face, big smiles all round)

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Bridgewater Systems: "Ah, OK, nice one, you got me - have a show freebie and a press release!"

Adrian Bridgwater: "On a more serious note, I hear you have surveyed mobile operators to uncover their opinions on how to manage mobile data growth in the next 12 months. "
(complementary chocolates go into bag and Huwaii lanyard replaced with Bridgewater Systems one to show some respect)

Bridgewater Systems: "Ah, OK yes. Indicators from show floor reveal 87% of mobile operators surveyed ranked 4G transformation and /or policy control as key solution approaches to solving mobile data network congestion. In comparison, service providers are increasingly reluctant to simply add costly network capacity, with only 18% of the operators surveyed indicating that this would be a primary tool for managing network congestion in the next 3 years."

Adrian Bridgwater: "Thanks very much, have a good rest of the show then!"
(walks away to look for someone else to hassle)

Bridgewater Systems: "Jeez, who was that guy?"

LogMeIn Rescue: over-the-air remote diagnostics that now speaks Android

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Mobile operators and device manufacturers now have a new option to remotely diagnose and troubleshoot application usage on Android smartphones and tablets with the release of LogMeIn Rescue. Already in use by customers in several international markets including Vodafone in the UK and Germany, this new service supports iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile devices.

Attempting to logically align services to support Android is perhaps no major surprise, given the huge growth in popularity of the mobile operating system. Produced in two versions - one for mobile operators and device manufacturers, and one for businesses - LogMeIn says that its mobile operator/OEM version introduces the ability to remotely control customer devices over-the-air from the support technician's computer i.e. just as if the device were in a support technician's hands.

Offered on a SaaS model delivery basis, the product is sold at US$1956 per support technician per year.

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With Android-focused device manufacturers set to release an extensive selection of new handsets in 2011 - the market for remote diagnostics (across not just Android, but multiple operating systems) in this vein could well be set to mushroom.

LogMeIn says that two leading Android device manufacturers have already signed up to provide this new service as a pre-deployed install on select smartphones and tablets expected to ship in the first half of 2011.

Both versions of LogMeIn Rescue include a diagnostic dashboard to display device information, while offering the ability to transfer files between the technician and the end user's device as well as an ability to chat with a user. Remote control capabilities will initially be available only on the operator/OEM version.

"Mobile operators and device manufacturers want to make sure their customers have the absolute best experience with their Android smartphones and tablets, and good, fast support is a critical part of keeping those customers happy," said Lee Weiner VP of support products at LogMeIn. "By working closely with our mobile and OEM customers, we've created a new version of LogMeIn Rescue that is now shipping on many of today's most popular tablets and smartphones to provide Android users with a highly efficient customer support experience."

"Vodafone is pleased to offer our customers first-class support in a convenient and fast manner. With remote support, we enable our support staff to work more efficiently and solve more issues on the first customer contact," said Markus Baumhaus, project manager for customer experience at Vodafone Germany. "The first thing that attracted us to the tool was the ability to support smartphone users remotely. This innovation enables us to support customers with complex mobile devices at the same quality standard they are receiving from PC support."

In light of the yet-to-settle mobile device policy which exists in many company where "bring in your own device" is still very much a reality, the existence of a single tool with the capability to manage a variety of computers, smartphones and tablets through a single service could prove to be a compelling proposition.

Mobile World Congress 2011 - first impressions

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I have just arrived in the maelstrom of communications that is Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona. This will not be a technical blog - those details will come tomorrow and for the next 72 hours or so. These are my first impressions...

This event is big. The stands are big and the industry is big. The press room is heaving with perhaps two or three hundred journalists - some of them sat on the floor trying to get some work done, some of them sharing desk space crammed in like sardines. There is no air conditioning and the only beverage on offer is warm water.

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The main hall looks impressive with double-level stands and show girls festooned in their usual eye candy garb. The entry security was just a shade off being frisked for class A drugs (not that I would know), so the organisers are clearly aware of the need to keep us safe.

The event is of course "international", but the Brits for some reason feel they need to brand all their stands as "The UK Zone" with little Union Jacks and equally diminutive put-me-up stands.

I'll be meeting with Vodafone, Sybase 365, Adobe, Microsoft and Qt among others - I'll also be aiming to get some word on the street comment from users if possible.

OK so soothing foot spray at the ready, laptop and camera fully charged - we're off.

David Beckham, IBM and data analytics

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With so much money pumped into the sports industry nowadays, it is perhaps no surprise that sports teams are forever pursuing new technologies to help them achieve sporting success. There have been digitally linked sports shirts that communicate athletes' hydration levels to a coach on the sidelines via wireless link ups, ever more intelligent GPS enabled wrist watches and all manner of web services driven online training programmes to help us all keep our bodies in shape.

... and all this requires software (much of it embedded) and all of this creates data.

Cloud computing companies like Rackspace are going to great pains to explain to us why we need on-demand computing power -- and very often the justification they use is the proliferation of "unstructured data" i.e. emails, video and fragmented data of the sort that might be produced in the sports industry.

This is data that doesn't comfortably sit in a standard excel sheet for analysis - let alone a database, however intelligently designed.

So it is that we come to data analytics and sport. This is not a subject that we have spent much time reading about as yet, but perhaps now is the time.

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Data analytics is predicted to be one of the most important strategic technologies for businesses in 2011 by Gartner -- and sport as a business is an area where analytics is used to understand reams of data relating to everything from player performance to fan loyalty.

Speaking in an interview posted on V3.co.uk Gavin Fleig, head of performance analytics at Manchester City Football Club said, "There is still an old-school mentality in football among coaches and managers, but this is starting to change. Before, it was all about emotional responses to games and training regimes that said: 'We did this last week and we won, so we should do it again.' But by really analysing and understanding data you can generate a far more relevant system."

Fleig's comments were made at an IBM event held at Chelsea FC where Big Blue has been trying hard to remind us all of its initiatives designed to build a so-called 'smarter planet' through the use of data storage and analytics.

IBM goes on to suggest that sports fans will be familiar with instant replays, Opta statistics and 360-degree camera angles -- and it's clear that the younger generation craves the detail these technologies bring. The insight can help fans feel closer to their teams, and can strengthen fan loyalty.

For younger sports players, who show more interest in analysing their game, data analytics can also help meet their thirst for information and feedback.

Colin Shearer (no relation apparently), global industry solutions leader for business analytics at IBM, comments, "All businesses are faced with similar issues -- the search for talent, logistics, risks and overall business issues - and using analytics to understand this data gives you a far better chance of making the right decisions."

Behind the scenes, sport scientists and performance analysts use video analysis software, for example, to collate GPS data on players during the game, from the distance run to the g-force of tackles, which can be helpful for managing injuries.

IBM rounds out by reminding us that the stream of data generated by new technologies can benefit the increasingly technology-savvy sporting world and beyond.

So is David Beckham into data analytics? Our guess is probably not.

IBM Software Group GM talks application & integration middleware

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It was only due to my own inability to squeeze 25 hours into a 24-hour period and make some more time for myself that I was unable to attend the recent IBM Partner World and Lotusphere conferences last month. I also missed last year's Rational Software Developers Conference, but did speak to an analyst pal who attended to get his opinion on the event.

"Ah IBM, there's a funny old company," he said warmly (Mr Collins you know who you are).

I put this gentle dig to IBM Software Group's GM for application & integration middleware Marie Wieck recently to get her feedback on this (albeit one sided) general perception of her company.

IBM Marie.jpg

"We have definitely been trying to drive a change in our model and whole strategy around our smarter planet strategy -- it's all about interoperability... and this is changing how we think about software application development, embedded systems and lifecycle development," said Wieck.

Ah interoperability! Microsoft has always been fond of saying that it has the power to insist that interoperability should be "baked in" from the start. Wieck has a good leveling opinion on this front...

"I don't think its realistic to think that you have a green field and can start by just saying that interoperability has to be baked in from the start -- you have to work with elements of the system that is already in place and be pragmatic and practical," she said.

What of "IBM and open source" then? Those aren't four words that slip off the tongue too easily are they"

Wieck says that IBM recognises that open source is a good route for start-ups and that WebSphere Community Edition is a good example of this -- plus WebSphere for developers is free of course.

"We are then there to provide the support and expertise -- and we focus very heavily on TCO as we show 40% improvements over open source. We are very focused on the next release of Java -- and in between each release of the language we produce free feature packs for integration with the appropriate IBM technologies."

There has been a bit of a cabinet reshuffle at the top of the IBM tree - so how does Wieck break down the massive entity that is the IBM Software Group these days?

"We split the software group into two teams -- Rational and Websphere sit in the MIDDLEWARE team along with Tivoli and over in the SOLUTIONS team you can find smarter commerce, business, Business Analytics and Business Intelligence."

When it comes to strategic developer planning, IBM is keen to extol the virtues of UML first and foremost - but what other methodological and architectural planning mechanisms does Wieck think developers should be aware of?

Well, she was in the UK as part of a lab tour looking at transaction processing and application integration to try and further help enable the IT function to each out to the line of business function. NB: To say this a favourite IBM theme is like the understatement of the year. Wieck points out that right now the company has a big focus on business process management (BPM)after the acquisition of Lombardi around a year ago -- and the acquisition of ILOG back in 2009. The company is also keen to talk about its work extending natural language rules to allow business people to adapt and automate business.

Wieck also talked about IBM's Blue Works live -- a cloud-based business process management tool. In terms of Rational -- the team is working closely with to help integrate Eclipse and Jazz.

So is there more? Yes of course there is, this is IBM, there's always more. But is IBM a funny old company? No not really, no more so than any other stalwart of the technology landscape. Remember to be careful when you talk about "old" IT or legacy systems -- that often just means it's software that still works!

Will I have more to report on if I finally get to the Rational event this summer? Oh yes, you can count on it.

Internet Explorer 9 & the web application compatibility conundrum

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It has been just sort of a full two years since the last iteration of Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser. During that period, competing offerings from Apple, Opera, Mozilla and the open source community have all been proffered forth and enjoyed varying degrees of user adoption -- and, if anything, there has been a fair degree of cross-fertilisation as one piece of software has sought to emulate the best features of another.

So as we approach Internet Explorer 9. Has Microsoft's research and development function worked intelligently and looked at real user functionality requests this time? Will this launch be regarded as a similarly positive shift in the company's core product set as Windows Phone 7 appears to have been? Or will this be a Microsoft Bob moment?

Early reports suggest that Internet Explorer 9 will deliver. So the first question development shops will need to ask themselves is where their online apps are in terms of web application readiness?

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Paul Schnell is CTO for application migration software specialist App-DNA -- looking at this week's impending news from Microsoft, Schnell asks, is your enterprise web application ready and set to go in terms of browser compatibility?

Organisations have until now been swamped by the prospect of IE9 compatibility for two key, but complex reasons 1) not knowing how many web applications are being used by the organisation and 2) not having the means to effectively identify application issues and affect remediation.

Enterprise 'web applications' are different from 'websites' in that they run business processes. Also, they tend to be associated with data creation, storage and retrieval. In contrast 'web sites' are mainly used as 'read only' sources - their content changes occur outside of the organisation.

This is an over simplification of the broad spectrum of web applications, but it helps to prioritise applications importance to the business.

In a survey of enterprise organisations and system integrators, App-DNA has found the key concerns were with applications including: Intranets, SAP, Oracle apps, PeopleSoft, Salesforce, Business Objects, SharePoint, CRM and ERP systems, even financial market data applications.

Web applications are highly customisable, so will behave differently in different environments depending on the degree of customisation and the age of the work. The most important approach is for organisations to have a way to consistently test all of their applications against the same standard. Different testers taking on different methods of testing won't generate solid end results for the organisation.

There is an application management challenge ahead for sure, whether automated capture and assessment to speed up the certification process is the answer is open to question. Application testers, don't book any holidays this month yet please.

App-DNA and the evolution of application virtualisation

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Application intelligence software company App-DNA has used its appearance at this week's Microsoft TechDays Conference to talk about its AppTitude application compatibility software platform.

Claiming to now accelerate application preparation for Microsoft App-V virtualisation projects up to 50% faster, the company highlights AppTitude new features including a Virtual App Machine to automate the creation of fully Microsoft supported App-V packages.

Note: Detailing the need for the Microsoft App-V application virtualisation and application streaming solution, the Windows Enterprise website specifies the following: "In a physical environment, every application depends on its OS for a range of services, including memory allocation, device drivers, and much more. Incompatibilities between an application and its operating system can be addressed by either server virtualization or presentation virtualization; but for incompatibilities between two applications installed on the same instance of an OS, you need Application Virtualization."

App-DNA says that using the AppTitude product enables enterprise IT customers to get all the full information they need to plan and execute application testing and remediation, as well as resource allocation and effort estimation for application virtualization projects with the Microsoft App-V product.

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AppTitude now features a Virtual App Machine to automate the creation of fully Microsoft supported App-V packages. The AppTitude Virtual App Machine, combined with App-DNA capabilities for Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8 application compatibility, helps Microsoft customers achieve the optimised desktop.

AppTitude features -- according to AppDNA, the product can:

  • Assess an application's suitability for virtualization
  • Identify the fixes needed to quickly create App-V ready application packages
  • Automate sequencing of App-V packages
  • Improve resource management
  • Determine the overall time, cost and risk of virtualisation projects
  • Save money - as there is no need to buy a separate sequencing product

"App-V delivers our customers with a better way to manage applications as they deploy Windows 7, along with flexile options to deliver them to today's more mobile workforce," said Karri Alexion-Tiernan, director of product management, Microsoft Corp. "AppTitude adds value to the App-V platform through automation, helping to build the business case for its adoption and accelerating App-V deployment."

"Enterprise CIOs want to take advantage of the benefits of virtualization as quickly as possible, but need to use existing staff and keep expenditures down. With AppTitude and the Virtual App Machine, the world's largest enterprises are reducing virtual application preparation time from 4-6 weeks to just 48 hours. Ultimately, this saves millions in budget," explained Mike Welling, CEO, App-DNA. "AppTitude is the wisest possible investment for application preparation. It saves time and costs, plus gives reassurance to risk-adverse enterprises that the applications will work when deployed. Any enterprise that is audited, publicly traded, or aligns to best practices can only choose AppTitude as the optimal and seamless application preparation platform. "


Five Autumn Developer Convention Dates Announced

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Whether you prefer to call it autumn of fall, this September and October is already shaping up to be one of the busiest periods ever on the convention-hungry software developer's calendar. With dates for six major events now made public, now is the time to speak to your team leader, or whoever funds your learning-based travel.

After two years in the comparatively pared down wilderness of smaller and regionally localized events, Sybase is finally back with TechWave 2011 held in concert (of course) with SAP. Announced late last night, the 'developer and user conference' will be 'co-located with SAP' on September 12-16 at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.

Also in September is Intel's IDF Intel Developer Forum. Dates are thought to be from September 13-15 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, although the company's website pages at the moment are devoted to its sister event earlier in the year held in Beijing China.

September's other morsel of developer goodness comes from Serena who will host its 14th annual user conference the (and I quote) "magnificent" MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada from the 19-21st of September 2011. So while Sybase clashes with Intel, it would lead in to Serena quite nicely if you happen to be using Sybase ASE and PowerBuilder in an environment where you feel the need for Serena's orchestrated application delivery.

Moving into October, we find two tier one events clashing with each other. Adobe's MAX convention will be held from October 1-5 somewhere in Los Angeles - and registration is now also open for JavaOne and Oracle Develop from October 2-6 once again at the Moscone Centre. For the record, the company specifies that JavaOne is now co-located with Oracle OpenWorld, which will also have much content of interest to developers.

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Larry "Did I Mention The America's Cup Yet?" Ellison: in full keynote flow

Nokia Qt Developer Days will no doubt follow in mid October in what is likely to be a repeat of the company's Munich, Germany and San Francisco joint event locations. But if you can't wait that long for your next developer get together then there's always Red Hat Summit in Boston from May 3-6 -- and also Microsoft TechEd North America in Atlanta Georgia from May 16-19.

If you want to read more tips on convention attendance then take a look at this useful set of tips: http://www.sybase.com/detail?id=1057303

Microsoft, Intel, Adobe & others join for developer relations conference

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Proving that we're really all happy interoperable families after all, Microsoft, Intel and Adobe will join IBM, Yahoo! and PayPal at the seventh annual Evans Data developer relations conference this March in San Jose, California.

The analyst firm contends that this is, "The only event of its kind based solely on the purpose of bringing developer relations professionals together to discuss what makes developer programmes successful -- and of course what doesn't work as well."

Evans has brought together an enviable bunch of speakers including Intel's chief evangelist and director of marketing James Reinders -- as well as Alice Chou, director of IBM's developerWorks division.

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So what are these guys going to talk about?

Evans Data says that the speakers will focus on developer issues relating to topics such as the developer landscape in 2010 in terms of what has changed and what's ahead in 2011. As well as keynotes from the cream of the developer cognoscenti, this event will also feature live on-stage developer focus groups and specific marketing and business tracks.

You can view the complete agenda here, but of particular interest are the following two sessions, which appear to stand out.

Firstly, Adobe's Rachel Luxemburg has a session entitled "When Two Developer Communities Come Together" - how to work with partners and manage expectations when there's two developer organisations involved. One imagines that this session might be the coming together of Macromedia and Adobe's developer streams.

Secondly, David Intersimone who is VP of developer relations and chief evangelist at Embarcadero will present a session called "Moving From A Custom Developer Relations Program To An Off-The-Shelf Social Network Infrastructure" - Hear how Embarcadero is effectively doing this.

These events can be quite closed affairs as analyst houses rarely fund press attendance, one only hopes that the firm's internal publicity function shares plenty of content from the speakers when they do speak.

Sage & Onions: a new UK developer platform

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Business management software company Sage Labs has cooked up a new online portal designed to help its UK developer community build add-ons and extensions for its mid market software.

The company wants to allow developers to peel off, slice up, download, modify and use source code under a permissive open source licence. Sage also wants encourage the development of new business management solutions that meet (as they put it) "the most diverse business needs" today.

"By feeding new solutions into our developer channel, Sage Labs encourages open standards and provides an outlet for inspiring our developer community to push the boundaries of innovation," said Stuart Lynn, Head of R&D for the company's mid market division.

Sage insists that the benefits of this new "development with no tears" initiative will be seen on both financial and practical levels, as the infrastructure cost for the new initiative is zero and assets such as the existing developer area and developer blogs have been leveraged.

The first project to be sautéed up in the Sage Labs frying pan is an extension to the Sage 200 suite, which allows Sage 200 data to be configured and uniquely integrated with map data on the web.

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Sage example workspace with maps

Commenting upon the benefits of Sage Labs, Aaron Blake, consultant at Eventura.com said, "The Sage 200 Labs initiative gives developers the building blocks to be able to construct Sage 200 Add-ons with the help of other Sage Developers through the use of the forum. The new Bing Maps Workspace proves how malleable the Sage 200 System can be with the right tools and communication platform between Sage and its developers."

Next-gen rapid app development on Windows Phone 7

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With the Mobile World Congress exhibition just a couple of weeks away now, the news wires are already crackling with all manner of mobile-related developer news. While early rumours suggest that Android may scoop the lion's share of the headlines during the show itself, there are plenty of other vendors out there willing to ply us with their wares across every other platform.

One such example is software application lifecycle company Telerik and its Beta release of RadControls for Windows Phone 7, which surfaced this week.

NOTE: As many readers will already know, RAD (or rapid app development) is a software application development methodology that encourages minimal planning in favours of speedy prototyping -- the concept being that this "nimble" approach allows the team to adapt to changing requirements. It is arguably not well suited to core foundational elements of any software system that are comparatively less subject to change.

Telerik's new RAD controls features three new tools: Gauge, JumpList, and ListBox. These functions are designed to aid developers who need to get a better route for transfer of knowledge -- so that they can use existing Silverlight and .NET skills and leverage them in mobile application development.

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"We are working diligently in the data visualization space, as we know how vitally important this is to our customers; new controls such as RadGauge are just the tip of what we have to offer in this direction," says Georgi Atanasov, Telerik Windows Phone 7 Team Lead. "As RadControls were unveiled in our CTP version, Telerik's footprint in the Windows Phone marketplace has already begun expanding through our customers' applications. We are pleased and humbled by this clear demonstration of the trust developers around the world have placed in Telerik when bringing new technologies and products to market."

Telerik's RadControls for Windows Phone was initially released in October 2010, providing fast controls for the Windows Phone suite. Drawing on the platform's GPU hardware acceleration, the company says that RadControls facilitates faster, smoother and more powerful transitions running directly on the device hardware -- yet they are precisely calibrated for optimal battery life management.

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