Thursday, September 17, 2009

Five Fundamentals of Ruby on Rails

Today’s applications developer aiming for the next scintillating Web 2.0 site is spoiled for choice. How well, you might wonder, does Ruby on Rails live up to its promise to simplify development tasks while crafting rich visitor experiences?

Part of the answer, I am assured by the intense and prolific young developers of HyTech Professionals ( is to keep in mind some fundamentals of Ruby on Rails. These comprise:

1. That it is really is possible to produce the same functionality with distinctly fewer lines of code. This is due in large part to the fact that Matsumoto created Ruby back in 1995 as an object-oriented, dynamically defined, and easy-reading language. One does have to be creative with blocks that blend loops and arrays, however.

2. RoR architecture promotes clarity by, for one, segregating code across three sub-frameworks: Active Record, Action View, and Action Controller.

3. Declare it once and that’s it. The Ruby on Rails environment leans mightily toward re-use of all kinds of system knowledge, whether this be data/metadata, algorithm, functionality or logic. This principle of hardly ever repeating yourself is paramount in Active Record where the database, not program code, defines attributes and class values.

4. Ruby on Rails relies on convention and binds components to work together with just one configuration file, “database.yml”. Even this simply defines data or objects and keeps the user names and passwords for the application database.

5. Finally, RoR is remarkable for speeding up work with the “scaffold” console command, generators that equate to modules for repetitive elements (a log-in form, for instance), and blink-of-an-eye progress checks simply by reloading the application in a browser.

All the above reinforce the superior productivity that is possible with Ruby on Rails. But if these do not yet persuade you to at least learn more about RoR, perhaps a closer look at framework components in my next post just might.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Official Google Reader Blog: Get your Blogger following fix (in Reader)

Official Google Reader Blog: Get your Blogger following fix (in Reader)

Outsourcing & Software Development Comapny

Monday, July 21, 2008

Robust and Business-like LAMP

Businessmen and entrepreneurs (your customers) who hire independent developers (you) may need more impressive examples of what the LAMP solution stack can do besides the WordPress example we cited last time. After all, blogs are great for consultants or service businesses that must take on an air of authority. But surely, even a small businessman will appreciate what has been done with Wikipedia, arguably the best-known non-commercial site for some years now. Informing even a medium-size home-furnishing or imprinted premium e-commerce site operator that the underlying WikiMedia runs on a Linux platform and that information is served up with a combination of Apache HTTPD, PHP and MySQL is bound to get their attention. Nor does it hurt that Wikipedia running LAMP accommodates close to 10% of the world’s surfers every single day. That’s a factoid of the day from Alexa by the way.

The next time you have to strengthen your arguments to push a LAMP development proposal, be sure to cite six advantages.

1. First, isn’t it amazing how widespread the LAMP community is? And how you can get answers when stuck because others out there have addressed the industry or corporate resource you’re working on?

2. The same community cooperates on security issues and volunteers patches in short order, not like you-know-who that is hard put to resolve a zero-day problem?

3. Your imaginativeness as a developer rules because there are no technical barriers or license clauses to hem you in.

4. You are able to offer shorter turnaround time because coding highly-functional applications with the LAMP components is normally an efficient exercise.

5. More features and customization because you can code functionality to suit the client’s needs or revise modules others have developed through the years.

6. A wide choice of hosts that accommodate LAMP as a standard. And choice means flexibility on hosting costs. Failing that, you can deploy with popular Linux distro’s like Fedora.

All these recap fairly well the dozen values you get from LAMP that I listed the other day.

In the end, cost need not even be an issue. As the successful LAMP developers at HyTech Professionals ( demonstrate week after week, the solution stack is all about letting you roll out supremely capable and effective Web-facing applications.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dynamic LAMP

The earnest brother-developers of mine at HyTech Professionals ( could only agree enthusiastically with the even dozen advantages of the LAMP solution stack I run in the last post. Clearly, cost savings is not even the major advantage of using the LAMP combo.

What happens, for example, when all you want to do is save time and cobble together a Web application using only Linux for the platform and Apache for the Web server? Sure, any developer will tell you it’s a static site. You have to build information pages and fill them in yourself. But never mind, the rudimentary e-commerce “solution” seems to work all right because you’ve gotten hold of a utility or two that lets customers put stuff in their shopping cart and execute orders. So everything is hunky-dory until your wonderful line of herbal-source food supplements expands with the fad of the month year after year. Pretty soon, adding product pages and processing orders becomes a managerial nightmare. And this site on the cheap does not even dynamically welcome back a customer and recognize her as a loyal buyer of slimming products.

If you needed any more convincing about the need for dynamic scripting (PHP, Perl or Python) and a robust MySQL database, take a gander at just two examples built on LAMP: WordPress and Wikipedia.

Both are highly scalable, accommodating an apparently infinite number of contributions and pulling the information from the database in whatever sequence the visitor wants. In the case of WordPress, PHP is the application environment, responsible for taking that data from the MySQL-run server and displaying it on the unvarying but hugely convenient blogging template. The relational power of MySQL is what enables WordPress to display prior posts, offer a list of categories or just posts for one category the viewer is interested in.

In my next post, we will cover some more benefits that LAMP brings, specifically for revenue-producing Web sites.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

12 Good Points About the LAMP Components

12 Good Points About the LAMP Components

Other than the fact that there is no dearth of developers who learn enough LAMP to competently put together a Web application, herewith an even dozen of enduring advantages to the LAMP solution stack:

1. Installation is easy because most Linux distro’s bundle all the other LAMP components.

2. Linux is flexible – A good developer takes advantage of access to the source code to customize the OS and optimize it as a base for Web applications.

3. Linux is versatile – The OS is “friendly” with a good range of file servers and network drivers.

4. Linux doesn’t mind legacy hardware -- because the open-source community has adapted it to work from mainframes to servers and desktops. Your ancient Burroughs mini or Sun workstation is no longer supported OEM-wise? Linux and the rest of the LAMP bundle will likely work happily in those.

5. The original Apache project was HTTPD, meaning it was a capable Web-facing platform right from the start. This is especially true for fairly uncomplicated file-based serving.

6. The standard Apache pack has extension modules that can be loaded to service important tasks like specialized authentication and security environments, data caching and support for basic site traffic analysis.

7. Apache speeds up the P languages (Perl, Python, or PHP) by accepting embedded interpreters and therefore substantially boosting Web application performance.

8. Unlike Linux, Apache is fairly easy to install and configure.

9. Once installed, Apache is so stable it needs little “care and feeding.”

10. In turn, MySQL is a highly functional relational database even in its default install configuration.

11. Backstopping relational tables and SQL as it does, MySQL does very well with Web applications that do not require frequent updates but must respond to a lot of queries. Now, doesn’t that sound exactly like a Web store for a small business with a limited product range?

12. This means MySQL is also a worthwhile candidate for blogs and knowledge bases or other types of reference sites.

In my next post, we’ll review more advantages of the LAMP building blocks and why the whole solution stack makes a lot of sense in the Web applications space.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

HyTech Professionals named Microsoft Gold Certified Partner

Signaling the coming of age for a formidable independent software vendor with global reach!!

Nashua, New Hampshire (July 8, 2008) HyTech Professionals is pleased to announce its selection by Microsoft as a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. This accomplishment caps a 12-month run of organic growth and new business gains in every one of five Programming Excellence Centers worldwide. The employee-owned HyTech has seen its optimism completely justified by the exemplary performance and realized value of applications fashioned and deployed for the most demanding of American and European clients.

Solution Stack 101: The Continuing Attraction to LAMP

Solution Stack 101: The Continuing Attraction to LAMP

In our last post, we identified the starting line-up for LAMP, argued that an open source stack inherently reduces investment risk for a start-up and well, the obvious benefit that all the components are dirt-cheap to acquire. Today, let’s delve into variations and why you still save money whatever you do.

A decade has passed since a German developer first espoused LAMP in print. Since then, our ever-adventurous brethren in the open-source community have espoused different flavors. The eager young developers at HyTech Professionals ( up in Nashua (NH) have succeeded with dozen of contract projects alternately writing the user interface in Perl, Python or PHP. So it’s still LAMP anyway. But they are really, really passionate about the elegance of Ruby on Rails. Now, rather than get hung up with an acronym like LAMR (just how courageously can you stand on a “lamer” approach and still expect to get paid megabucks?), a wise man settled the issue by ruling that P should mean “programming language”. So that covers PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby really neatly.

Other folks swear by PostgreSQL and rely on mod python or mod perl to do the front end. Happily, we still have a genie’s LAMP with the last two functions switched. In a proprietary environment, Windows instead of Linux and IIS in place of Apache does not make for a nice acronym at all.

Seriously, the great advantage of LAMP and every other open-source stack is that all the components are readily available, bundled with any Linux distro you care to name. Hence, there is no lack of developers who get trained on open-source OS, scripting languages and Web servers. This is a great benefit for small and medium businesses that would like to launch their first Web application or expand what they have to make enterprise collaboration and Internet marketing a reality.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Solution Stack 101: Why Cost-less LAMP Works

Solution Stack 101: Why Cost-less LAMP Works

As promised, we switch today to the open-source solution stack LAMP. What the Windows Server-Internet Information Services-Microsoft SQL Server-ASP.NET stack is for the Windows environment, the open-source equivalent to cobble together a Web application is LAMP. For the benefit of newbie’s, LAMP stands for:

1. Linux (the operating system);

2. Apache (the Web server);

3. MySQL, (the database management system)

4. Perl, PHP, and/or Python (scripting languages).

While tapping out this post on my trusty Blackberry Curve, the RoR evangelists at HyTech Professionals ( did their level best to convince me to get with the times, ditch LAMP and embrace LAM-R (or LARM, if you will). Maybe they have a point about that Ruby on Rails as an efficient scripting tool.

To get back on track, however, why would any “bleeding-edge” IT manager or developer stake their business’ computing future on an open-source stack made of distro’s for which upgrades or new features come sporadically? Well, the primary advantage of LAMP really is very low cost of acquisition, even after ISV’s and integrators market enhanced versions. Affordability is vital for at least two reasons:

1. In the aftermath of the dot-com collapse, the technology startup or budding e-commerce venture that had the backing of angel investors was very rare indeed. Many would never have made it as far as they did if they had invested six figures right away in licensed platforms.

2. LAMP is a fantastic risk reduction option when you consider the Gartner report that nearly two-thirds of application development projects fail. Many a canny CIO has learned to buck the odds by prototyping or doing proof-of-concept in LAMP so that the cost of acquiring the latest components for a Windows stack does not come back to haunt him and cause many a sleepless night.

In my next post, we will take a look at more scenarios where budget-friendly LAMP stacks pay off, at least in the medium term.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ruby on Rails In the Real World

Ruby on Rails In the Real World

Continuing with our brief overview of Ruby on Rails as drastically simplified, elegant, and stable platform for agile Web engineering, we take the word of some impressively-experienced RoR developers up in Nashua, NH, at HyTech Professionals ( that it is by no means the ONE, the “silver bullet” that will replace all other Web 2.0 frameworks out there. Still, the practiced applications architects insist, clients just love the ability to literally see the state of a Ruby on Rails application, brainstorm where it should go from there, and implement modifications much more rapidly. Herewith some interesting examples of real-world applications the HyTech Professionals engineers created in the last few months:

* For a Marseilles-based firm of independent auditors, the German branch of HyTech Professionals created a complete Web-based ERP and bookkeeping front end, as fully functional as if it was installed on end-user premises. Lookup’s initially covered French laws and accounting principles. However, the application already had Euro-zone currency conversion functionality and modules to cover laws for other nations in the trading bloc. In short, an immediately-useful and extensible Ruby on Rails application.

* For a Toronto-based contact center, the company delivered MapleBU, a management, collaboration and decision-aid framework intended to replace all paper routed around the typical business office. Plentiful Javascript and AJAX modules ensured that the intranet was rich in Web 2.0 functionality.

* A NewWeb CMS that allows mid-size clients to create and manage content quite apart from view options. Especially interesting is the way custom API, Ruby on Rails and Javascript are combined to maximize view flexibility.

* For a private middle school in upstate New York, the Nashua office provided a Ruby on Rails utility for periodically dumping (and translating) the contents of an online encyclopedia to the library and computer lab servers. This saved the school tremendous bandwidth as students were wont to frequently look up the encyclopedia site for every subject except PE and Music.

As these few examples show, there is much one can do with Ruby on Rails architecture and functionality. I’ll illustrate more enterprising examples of RoR benefits sometime soon. Tomorrow, it’s time to dissect that acronym “LAMP”.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Important Framework Components of Ruby on Rails

Important Framework Components of Ruby on Rails

In yesterday’s post, I related how Ruby on Rails developers, the intense HyTech Professionals ( teams for instance, push the envelope for rich Web 2.0 applications by keeping their eye on five key RoR principles: trimmer code, segregation by sub-frameworks, not having to repeat one’s self, minimal configuration requirements, and instant feedback just by loading in a browser.

Next, we review the framework components that drive the Ruby on Rails objectives of simplicity, productivity, ready re-use, scalability, testability, and ease of maintenance:

* In setting up the link between domain objects and the database, the Active Record sub-framework converts create, read, update and delete (CRUD) commands, the four basic functions of persistent storage, into SQL functions and transmits these to the database. The key point is that Ruby on Rails activates a table when called in the database and automatically creates the required class.

* Among others, Action Controller relies on actions developer-defined actions to receive requests, determines whether these are actions or objects requiring processing, and returns the proper view to the browser.

* As the presenting sub-framework, Action View fills either RHTML or RXML templates with data in HTML format.

* Finally, support for Web services – those based on SOAP and XML-RPC – is provided by what else but Action Web Services? These do the job of publishing functionality better than the Representational State Transfer approach available with Active Controller.

Given these two admittedly-brief overviews of Ruby on Rails architecture and functionality, you probably understand better now why this platform has impressed folks on the cutting edge as a stable and sophisticated framework for agile Web engineering. In my next post, we’ll go over some real-world applications.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Working Better with Ruby on Rails

Working Better with Ruby on Rails

In the last four years, we have seen how Ruby on Rails (RoR) built on, and accelerated the wider acceptance of, the object-oriented Ruby language. Consequently, the Ruby/RoR combo has become a workhorse of such independent software providers as Nashua (NH)-based HyTech Professionals ( Though busy as the proverbial bee, the development teams there gave me a peek at apps they use to produce more than a hundred web-facing projects year after year.

As early as 2005, Ruby on Rails validated the language by making available an open-source framework for executing database-driven web applications. Its sparse architecture requirement, very lean code and easy access to support for PHP or Ajax, for example, made prototyping easy and quick.

Since then, the HyTech Professionals developers have nabbed one “killer app” after another to broaden the utility of Ruby on Rails. One of the first was the ActiveState Komodo integrated development environment that, beginning with version 3.5, provided edit, debug and testing support for the elegance of Ruby and Ruby on Rails code.

Another very useful app is “ModelSecurity”, a generator that reminds Ruby on Rails developers to write access control for the data model of a Web site. This makes for security defense in depth since architect developers very often program security only into controllers and views.

Fast-forward to last year and we find that FiveRuns quietly acknowledged the enterprise inroads Ruby on Rails has made by writing monitoring functions for RoR in its enterprise management and monitoring suite. All this means is that developers gain diagnostic visibility into the behavior of production-time versions.

All in all, developers continue to value the fact that Ruby on Rails gets a project up and going fast and has capabilities aplenty for building fairly complex Web sites.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ruby on Rails Is Simplicity Itself. Or Not Quite?

Ruby on Rails Is Simplicity Itself. Or Not Quite?

The never-ending desire for riveting Web sites that “pull eyeballs”, lengthen stay and induce return visits has, since 2004, complicated the life of Web application engineers. Enriching a page with Flash, embedded video, visitor talkback, and self-serve communication channels means developer teams need varied expertise in Ajax, Web services and allied technological tools. Happily, Yukihiro Matsumoto authored the Ruby on Rails language and offered it up as a Web 2.0 framework option with the simple immediacy of PHP and the familiar architecture, clean code and robust quality of Java.

At a briefing I attended earlier this week, a Project Manager at HyTech Professionals out in Nashua ( raved about the agile development they have managed for hundreds of clients with Ruby on Rails. At the core, he claimed, all a developer really need attend to is a Web server, a database engine and such sparse code it’s unbelievable. This independent software house found it could slash time to market with the speed and ease with which RoR could generate rich, database-driven Web 2.0 projects.

Still, hands-on experience with a solid client base demonstrated two things to bear in mind:

* Ruby on Rails is not the silver bullet that sweeps away the complexity of J2EE. Matsumoto never did claim RoR was a comprehensive enterprise IDE. Rather, the platform seems to have worked very well as a leaner replacement for combos like Tomcat and JDBC.

* Developers have still endured manual processes and practices. Needless to say, this has meant an active search for a killer app IDE to overlay on RoR. Let me tell you what I turned up in my next post.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Secure Browsing in a Shared .NET Framework Intranet

Secure Browsing in a Shared .NET Framework Intranet

Think of all the students in a school computer lab or office workers in a shared corporate NET framework environment. Even if they should know better, everyone indulges in personal Internet browsing, surfing adult, gaming, video and social networking sites. But there is no such thing as leaving no tracks, right? Anyone can peek into the contents of History or the Favorites list. When PC’s are shared, moreover, there is no safety in saving addresses in the Favorites list even if one uses it often enough. There is always the risk that the network Admin will give vent to his curiosity and delete “non-business” Net addresses. So, how does one work around these “hindrances”?

While modeling an e-commerce project based on the NET framework with the folks at Nashua, NH, -based HyTech Professionals the other day, one developer demonstrated how to use a neat utility called WebTool (author: George Bodnar). One simply stores the executable file on a memory stick. On loading, you see a list of Internet addresses and a button. Select the address wanted, press the button and WebTool opens a new instance of Internet Explorer.

This works only in a NET framework environment because the platform does not require a registry entry to run an executable. NET depends on “xcopy deployment”, not caring that the sys admin has not authorized a program but finding and running components automatically.

Of course, I should emphasize at this point that this workaround should not be used for idling away executive time or corporate bandwidth. But there are justifiable circumstances for covering one’s tracks, such as in a two- or three-shift contact center environment operating on the NET framework. So it is worth keeping WebTool in mind when pursuing a confidential project for the boss. Unless you are absolutely sure you are okay with having other users of the PC learn about the next “lean and mean” rightsizing exercise or acquisition talks perhaps. No? I didn’t think so.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Transforming versus Overhauling: .NET Framework in CRM

Transforming versus Overhauling: .NET Framework in CRM

Maintaining contact, keeping profitable customers, and preventing customer churn are huge concerns at customer care departments worldwide. This is why there is a constant search for the best possible customer information systems (CIS) that will allow frontline agents to concentrate on keeping customers happy instead of hunting down information on cranky databases and switching through many applications that refuse to talk to each other. Upgrading everything in one fell swoop with a Web-ready, multi-tier platform like J2EE or the NET framework may be an option but the prospect of a painful transition and frustrated customers is enough to cause CIO’s to hunt for compromises.

First of all, NET framework integration ought to include effectively handling multiple legacy CRM applications that are a fact of life at utilities, airlines, telecommunications and the hospitality trade because these industry verticals were the first to drive CIS deployment two decades ago. Today, agents have to cope with logging on to several applications to sign up a customer, relay service pricing, complete a credit check, confirm billing status, and validate a service outage report and so on. This drives cost per transaction sky-high.

To reduce the call queues, Microsoft likes to boast that NET framework architecture can aggregate customer care data into one seamless database. Such a database takes inputs from, and communicates with, all manner of self-service channels: e-mail, IVR scripting, automated online agent, ATM’s and customer terminals.

Rather than replace everything immediately, NET framework SOA can overlay existing systems and present customer care agents with a unified view of all information about a customer, pulled in from a variety of databases. The upshot, of course, is a dramatic decrease in average handling time and agent productivity. Clearly, a proposed solution using NET framework is most promising when it can seamlessly integrate with legacy applications (at least, at first), afford agents a single view of customer data, accommodates self-serve channels and is of course, competitively priced.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Security Advantages of the .NET Framework

Security Advantages of the .NET Framework

Recall how, in a recent post, I referred to securing reporting under the NET framework by customizing the IAuthenticationExtension security extension interface. One does this to override the default Windows Authentication mode and put a third-party security utility to work. Stepping back, however, posters often pose the question: is NET inherently more secure than that other hugely popular platform, J2EE? In other words, are open-source cryptographic tools just as good as commercial software?

The other day, the folks at Nashua(NH)-based HyTech Professionals, able code developers at J2EE and Net frameworks both, sent along an interesting showdown between the two platforms. Seems two Professors Francia (spouses, I hazard) of Jacksonville State U’s Computer Security and Forensics Laboratory got themselves a grant from the National Science Foundation. In short, this was a scientific test of cryptographic API’s running under Java and NET frameworks.

The head-to-head test involved four encryption algorithms (DES, Triple DES, RC2 and AES), as well as four message digest algorithms (MD5, SHA 1, 256 and 512). At the time, NET framework 2.0 was in use hence the test bed was System.Security.Cryptography under the VS development environment and C# language. The result was that the NET framework API’s ran almost twice faster than Java API’s. For the most part, Net framework message digest API’s also did better than their Java counterparts. The result likewise favored native NET framework applications (the test included exchanging environments and, for instance, running Java API’s in Windows) when researchers normalized the comparison by stripping the test conditions of file I/O operations.

All in all, the individual packages each have their encryption strengths. However, NET framework implementations generally worked more speedily. And that is hard science.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Porting and Flexibility Under the .NET Framework

Porting and Flexibility Under the .NET Framework

In a preceding post, I touched briefly on the speed, multilingual awareness, security and project management potential of porting over to the NET framework. Let’s get down to cases today and critically examine what happens when a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner gets on the job.

At Nashua, NH, -based HyTech Professionals (, a team of system architects and developers with a track record of delivering over 100 NET framework projects each year took on the requirement of porting an employee relations suite from Unix to the NET environment. The group had convinced the financial services client that there were important gains to be had in accessing the relational database capabilities of MS SQL Server and that NET framework modules afforded fairly painless development and deployment.

The team delivered in spades. End-users found much more intuitive UI’s, integrated links to the bank’s benefits administration program and flawless integration of third-party solutions that pushed decisions lower down the organization. Reports came back more swiftly over the web-based application. And the CIO liked it that HyTech Professionals had left certain NET framework modules future-proof, capable of accommodating legal, corporate policy and benefits changes with a minimum of new coding.

With careful planning, best of all, the HyTech Professionals team managed deployment down to the level of 850 supervisor and manager desktops in just one weekend. Indeed, an eminently satisfactory accomplishment but also clear testimony to the masterful deployment tools available in the NET framework.

Enduring Advantages of the .NET Framework

Enduring Advantages of the .NET Framework

NET 3.5 has passed the six-month mark since being officially released so this seems a good time to strip the hype away and focus on just why the Microsoft offering of Web-ready building-block applications is here to stay. Herewith a mere handful of the strategic advantages afforded by the ever-expanding NET framework set of technologies:

1. Dramatic boosts in performance with pages enabled for output caching. After executing a page and sending it to the requesting user, NET framework components leave the result in memory and serve the cached version when another user requests the same page (or part of it). This reduces the communication load with the back-end database, too.

2. Leveraging a broader set of stock knowledge in programming languages. On top of VBScript and Jscript, teams of NET framework architects like those at well-regarded HyTech Professionals ( in Nashua (NH) code in no less than 25 languages like C#, VB.NET, JScript.NET, and Visual Studio 2008. This is pretty much what you’d expect for a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner that delivers over 100 applications every year on the NET framework.

3. Great administrative and project management tools over the development life cycle. VS.NET enterprise edition helps with planning, analysis, four modeling options, three test tool classes, and productivity owing to a slew of templates.

4. Under Reporting Services 2005, default access security relies on the organization hewing to Windows Authentication mode. For Web-facing applications and to provide reports through the company firewall, happily, one can a write a bit of .NET code under the NET framework IAuthenticationExtension security extension interface so as to override the default and deploy a third-party security manager.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where the J2EE Application Server Stands in the Scheme of Things

Where the J2EE Application Server Stands in the Scheme of Things

As the Java web servers of old housed servlets or JSPs, so J2EE application servers are the containers for Enterprise JavaBean (EJBs) framework components. That is, every J2EE application server provides a range of services to EJBs and manages their lifecycle. Understanding this architectural framework is core to working with the distributed-processing, multi-tier and Web-ready potential of the platform.

The learning curve is steep but taking advantage of J2EE application servers (and other J2EE technologies) enables one to reap great benefits like having to do less custom coding and considerably quicker turnaround of more robust applications. It pays to master the J2EE SDK for the necessary packaging and development utilities. One also needs to pay more attention to the underlying processes, like the way a J2EE application server completely takes over the management of Entity EJBs, lest over-reliance on remote interfaces and multiple JVM’s result in a messaging overload that slows the system to a crawl. The result? Unhappy end-users.

For the many companies out there wanting to move up from legacy client-server Oracle, Notes or Access set-up’s, it a huge comfort to know that J2EE developers like the end-to-end developers up north in Nashua’s (NH) HyTech Professionals ( are past masters at configuring J2EE application servers. At least, they had an abundance of success stories and completed projects, many about migrating and porting older architectures to the J2EE application server framework.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What to Look for in a Hyper-Effective Team of J2EE Developers

What to Look for in a Hyper-Effective Team of J2EE Developers

J2EE may be free open-source and, in the hands of the right developer, a powerful platform for multi-tier, Web-based applications. But easy it is not. Given technology that sees some new development practically every month, how do you find and screen highly effective J2EE developers?

Whether hiring for an in-house IT group or looking to outsource to an independent applications provider, the first step is to have a Java Architect working for you, not just a first-line, order-taker J2EE developer. This means broadminded thinkers who understand your business need, can conceptualize all the system components you need, and direct the J2EE developer team to ably link backend databases and servers, middleware and presentation layers.

At a software house like HyTech Professionals up in Nashua (NH), J2EE developers need not dazzle the unwary client with a blizzard of acronyms. An end-user organization gets much more comfortable learning from these quietly competent HyTech folks ( about their completed Java systems integration work and end-to-end implementation of mission-critical J2EE applications.

For now, some parting advice: look askance at any J2EE developer still mired in pre-2005 technology like Enterprise Java Beans. Applications built solely with EJB are so irritatingly intrusive, hard to test and force such illogical design decisions. This is why a team of Java developers already comfortable with the Spring and Hibernate frameworks will be more likely to deliver what you want on time and under budget.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Smart Client Development

Smart Client Development

As a business owner, you are always looking for independent opinion on the concept of a smart client as the developers and development company, throw in terms, keywords and vague descriptions.

Here is what has to suggest

- don’t go with any drastic change without evaluating your options

- understand, evaluate and decide when you have sufficient information

- consult with experts in Microsoft smart client with experts from

- create a value metrics with clear ROI

- have a delivery plan and use the latest .Net frame work and tools

We believe that a lot of business owners make decisions based on market hype and Microsoft’s PR. You should look at the true value propositions offered by a smart client

- fast response heavy data lifting

- easy use of local device drivers and hardware

Essentially, it provides the best of both worlds – desktop and web applications.

Why should we use silverlight vs. flex?

Why should we use silverlight vs. flex?

At our team has been aggressively evaluating tools and best practices to assist our customers in selecting between Microsoft silverlight and flex.

Here are some of the questions that suggest that you answer:

1) Do you like smoother integration with .Net?

2) What’s your technology background in action scripts 3.0?

3) What’s interest and core strength of your development staff or partner?

4) Is there compatibility concern you have with various platforms and browsers?

If these are some of your questions, team will help you make an informed decision.


- solution should be Web 3.0

- team should be conversant with the technology

- use best practices

- take time to review your options

The Spectrum of Choices for J2EE Training

1. The Spectrum of Choices for J2EE Training

Even as J2EE remains at the forefront of robust, highly capable platforms for Web-based applications, there is a pressing need to fill the ranks of developer teams worldwide. Just how does one gain a foothold in the field or, if already hands-on in a team, get the J2EE training to architect Java projects?

There are many ways to obtain solid J2EE training. Sun itself funds many J2EE training programs, with course tracks for Web Component Developer, Business Component Developer, Mobile Application Developer, and, for those of you with aspirations to be world-class, Enterprise Architect. And there’s a choice to do this online, or arrange for in-house and offsite classes. In the end, you get a nice Certified Developer credential to hang in your cube.

In this era when online college education attracts hundreds of thousands of students every academic year, it should come as no surprise that online podcasts, lengthier video webinars, and complete courses on CD’s enrich the variety of J2EE training options available. And these are affordable, from US$150 to $170 or thereabouts depending on where exchange rates are this week. Nor are these slapdash affairs. A typical J2EE training syllabus offering covers the range from Overview to coding JavaServer pages, learning about servlets and multi-threading, Enterprise Java pages, databases and Web Services. Schools, training centers and Fortune 500 companies with strong in-house IT skills routinely purchase multi-user licenses.

Take the time to choose the J2EE training mode that’s right for you. And don’t fret if the course tracks stretch upwards of 6 months to a year or even more. As the folks at HyTech Professionals ( who architect middleware or entire systems all day long will tell you, Java is a difficult beast to tame. But finally deploying that robust, multi-platform and networked system in a manufacturing setting, in retail, or in a bank bestows immense satisfaction that you’ve invested in the right sort of J2EE training.

J2EE Server

J2EE Server

Last time, I pointed out that the continuing lack of J2EE Enterprise Architects and Business Component Developers puts a crimp on plans by Global 2000 enterprises to migrate their applications to the Web. The other huge hindrance, revealed by a Precision Marketing Group survey a couple of months back, is the complexity of transitioning from legacy client/server frameworks to Web-ready J2EE servers.

Taking the survey at face value, one would have to believe that nearly 99 percent – that’s virtually everyone, folks – of these large, globe-spanning businesses are still stuck in Microsoft Access, Lotus Notes and Oracle Forms client/server tools, obviously never intended for Web applications. Even those enterprises that already have some rudimentary Java team in-house complain they still lack the skilled developers to architect and maintain J2EE servers. Without well-administered J2EE servers, there is just no way to attain rich internet applications like wikis, portals or CMS.

Until in-house capabilities can be beefed up and true point-and-click J2EE server admin utilities become available, leading enterprises wishing to leverage the power of the Web have the option to outsource mission-critical development to system integrators or experienced and fleet-footed third-party application developers. There’s no lack of the latter and on a trip to Nashua (NH), I chanced across HyTech Professionals ( Frankly amazing how they took the challenge of rich functionality and robust performance off of a J2EE server as “part of the service” for clients in production, retail, financial services and technology startup’s.

J2EE: Back to Basics

1. J2EE: Back to Basics

By the very nature of their operations, large and medium-sized businesses have complex requirements. And when the time comes to port legacy systems to today’s business demands or to build entirely new functionality, IT planners in the know tend to think in terms of .NET, Oracle, SAP or Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE).

The great appeal of J2EE rests on its open source heritage, pretty much an anti-establishment way to get even complex enterprise applications developed without license fees or kowtowing to “Big Brother”. Far from being scanty, the Java programming language defined basic objects, as well as the needed higher-level classes to handle security, networking, XML parsing and GUI crafting. And to this, as most users have known since 2003, the Enterprise Edition added the ability to develop and run very large, scalable, multi-tiered and increasingly robust networked applications.

One of the most enthusiastic J2EE supporters I’ve met are the folks at HyTech Professionals (, out in the Nashua (NH) extension of the eastern Silicon Belt. Simply amazing, the number of J2EE systems they’ve developed for industrial, gaming, banking, insurance and e-commerce companies.