Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose...damn, isn't this the best time of the year! Ironically, the actual event on the 25th isn't that memorable, but the lead up to this day is what gets me all fired up. And this year, I have two special celebrations.
First and foremost, my son is in a state of motion - he'll be a massive 1.06-years-old (I bet you can tell I'm a developer can't you?). Second, this will be my first Christmas as editor-in-chief of JDJ and I'll be celebrating six months in this role. When I say things like that, I realize how much I sound like my parents and resign myself to the fact that I am getting older. Ho hum.
After six months I'm beginning to understand the pressures and responsibilities of being editor-in-chief. It is fun, that I cannot deny. I love working with our wonderful team of editors (yes, even working with Mr. Briggs, our esteemed J2ME editor!), and between us, we're shaping JDJ into the magazine you want to read. My e-mail traffic has definitely gone through the roof and to this end, I thank each and every one of you for e-mailing me your comments, good or bad. I do answer all of them eventually, so keep them coming.
In November we took to the road and began what we have affectionately named the JDJ World Tour. (I'm keen to learn more about the Java vendors and how they see the future of Java.) Where else to start but in San Francisco. Over the space of a week we visited many of the top Java vendors and listened at length to what they had to say. It was very interesting to see who mentioned Microsoft and who didn't; who mentioned Web services and who didn't. I learned a lot and I'm looking forward to the next leg of our tour when we visit some of the companies based on the East coast. It's too soon to make any real conclusions as I'm still processing all the information.
Recently at n-ary we took a bold step and took away all the IDEs from our Java developers. For a long time I've been listening to rave reviews of tools, such as Apache's Ant, and decided to take the plunge to see what all the fuss was about. The notion of a "make" file for Java wasn't sitting too well with me; I couldn't see the need. But now I'm a convert! We love it. Building our flagship product tagServlet proved to be so much easier to coordinate using Ant. So with that, we've all gone back to a basic text editor (EditPlus at
www.editplus.com), which does nothing more than simply syntax highlight our Java code; we manage the projects with Ant, including all CVS control.
The biggest thing we've all noticed is the speed of development. No more waiting for the IDE to boot up and no more large memory consumptions. It's an absolute joy to get back to the way code used to be developed, before all those fancy windows and wizards came in and pretended to do the work for us. With respect to documentation we haven't lost anything there either; we trained our office in IRC-BOT, Cormac, to deliver on demand the official JavaDoc information on a particular class. One major benefit of this move back to basics is the ease and speed with which I can move my development onto my relatively slow laptop and work remotely.
I feel in control again. I feel like a real developer again. It's wonderful!
And on that note, have a good Christmas, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Alan Williamson is editor-in-chief of Java Developer's Journal. In his spare time he holds the post of chief technical officer at n-ary (consulting) Ltd (www.n-ary.com), one of the first companies in the UK to specialize in Java at the server side. Rumor has it he welcomes all suggestions and comments.