Thursday, December 31, 2009

A warm welcome to 2010 with a KISS

As the new decade starts and the old decade fades away, I hope eclipse is taking the right turn with e4!

The quality of software applications depends more on the mindset of the developers, than the technology they adopt. Hence, I hope in the coming decade, the eclipse community can work together to increase the awareness of better coding practises, better UI design, better inter-operating and open systems.

The adoption of standards is gaining importance more than ever. Html 5 and web 2.0 along with the browser wars is speeding up the changes around us.

This decade ends with an accelerated change of technologies and events. This is happening faster than anyone can comprehend. Clouds are up, Oracle rescued the Sun, Java and .Net talks, Microsoft supports open source, modelling gains importance, stock markets fluctuate, money and guns flow faster between continents, tsunamis and tornadoes struck the world, speculates water in the moon… hopes and despairs!

The facts tell that the number one website has the most simple design with a single textbox.

A warm welcome to 2010 and the new decade with a KISS (Keep It Simple and Stupid).


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Eclipse Demo Camp 2009 @ Bangalore

"We are drawn to a body of knowledge, because it shed light on our identity as well as on the world. We did not merely find a subject; the subject also found us."
by APJ Abdul Kalam, former President and Chief Scientist of India!

Thanks to Prakash GR (Eclipse Tips Fame) and Ankur Sharma's efforts, we had an evening full of eclipse talks from eclipsers across the city on 5th of November, 2009.

The heavy rain that started at 5 in the evening did not stop anyone from attending the Eclipse Demo Camp. The overwhelming response from the eclipsers from the city resulted in 10 presentations, the organizers even had to cut down a few presentations as the evening could not hold more than 10 presentations. Around 50-60 eclipsers gathered for the event.

Let me start with my presentation - GEF3D. A concept to support 3D application development in Eclipse Editors. Jens Von Pilgrim, a research assistant from Fern University in Hagen, Germany conceptualized and implemented GEF3D. This was later supported by Kristian Duske with many more features in GEF3D.

The feature list provided by gef3d includes,
  • Creation of 2D, 2.5D and 3D graphical editors.
  • Connect between multiple graphical editors in 3D space (For example, you can connect a use case diagram and class diagram using connections or traces between them)
  • Extend your existing GEF based 2D editors to 3D
GEF3D Team is planning a few more talks on the topic at various demo camps across Germany. Please visit for more details.

Ankur Sharma presented Modelled UI in e4. It was amazing to see how you can model your UI with a few mouse clicks and model changes. If you want to try out e4, which is a re-written eclipse from scratch, check the e4 1.0M1 release. The first version e4 1.0 is scheduled to release sometime around June, 2010 (I guess).

Shubhvardhan from IBM talked about invoking eclipse controls from Visual Studio Add-ons.

Now more about, Twist and SWTBot. Ketan Padegaonkar presented the testing framework from ThoughtWorks - the 'Twist'. Its a functional testing tool which is a wrapper around SWTBot. Twist enables the tester to transform the indent of the business users (use cases) into automated tests.

Ms. Rajam from Infosys Technologies presented the Spring IDE using the MyEclipse Workbench. She travelled all the way from Chennai to present at the Bangalore Demo Camp. The spring IDE showed a perfect example for a language workbench. It reminds me the words from Martin Fowler on Language Workbenches.

Eclipse JDT Team Member Deepak Azad from IBM presented the new Javascript Development Toolkit (JSDT). Its a Javascript IDE based on the JDT framework. It includes most of the features provided by JDT, error markers, detailed flow analysis etc.

Pradeep Balachandran from IBM presented Jazz, the eclipse based new generation collaboration platform from IBM. The indent of Jazz is to make sure you follow the process during software development, and to ensure that you do not need to spend time with un-necessary documentations for the sake of following processes.

Ibrahim Quraish from Nokia, explained how to create widgets for S60 devices using the Nokia WRT Eclipse Plugins. Interestingly, the IDE used to present the topic was Aptana, not the Carbide IDE from Nokia, which is based on Eclipse. On further googling I could find out the list of IDEs Nokia uses for development.

Anil Gudise from Genuitec briefed about MyEclipseTools and Pulse. Ganeshraj from Hewlett Packard presented the C/C++ Remote Developer Plugin for Eclipse.

You can check the snaps at,

Myself In Action (Gef3D Presentation)

Ankur Sharma with e4

Room was packed with Eclipsers

Pradeep Balachandran explains Jazz

Ketan Padegaonkar (Twist and SWTBot)

Ms. Rajam explains Spring IDE

Shubhvardhan (Visual Studio - Eclipse Add-ons)


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

GEF3D in Action

Models, models, models... we hear this all the time...

In computing world, modelling is all about arranging abstract objects (which we do not see) into the computer memory. We stack objects, we pile objects, we queue objects, we order objects based on business and personal needs.

The senior software developers who developed the modelling concepts encountered lot of troubles before the time of the modern modelling concepts. Hence, they understand the significance of modelling more than anyone else.

How do you teach these modelling concepts to the next generation of developers? You need to teach modelling which is a concept of abstract ideas. Ideas which cannot be seen with the naked eyes, but which needs to be visualized in the brain. (Will people with spacial inabilities ever be able to learn modelling?)

Scientifically, learning is an associative activity. Any new information, unless it is related with something we already know, can never be understood. Thats how brain works! Otherwise, we learn facts and concepts through our senses. We see and learn, we touch and learn, we smell and learn, we hear and learn, we taste and learn. Which senses are triggered when we read most of the articles and tutorials on modelling? To which 'data' in the brain tissues should the new and young developers 'associate' or 'link' the new abstract modelling concepts?

Forget about learning, how can we comprehend the massive amount of data piling around us. Complexity is the new norm! Impatience is the accepted emotion! We still need to use the five senses to see, touch, smell, hear and taste all the information around us.

Never get lost in the jungle of information! GEF3D comes to the rescue.

GEF3D helps you to visualize the models in 3-dimensional space. You will be able to 'see' all the abstract data that flows around using proper use of GEF3D. Since we all are 3-d animals, 3D-fied (as Jens says) models will revolutionize modelling. Any data if properly analysed, designed and implemented; can change or optimize the existing knowledge base. More than 3-d models, what else do GEF3D provide? Any other features?

How about 2.5D models! What is it? How about giving more meaning to 2D editors by connecting between multiple 2D editors.

Want to learn more about tomorrow's 3-dimensional computing! Attend any of the GEF3D sessions at,
  • 29-Oct-2009 : Eclipse Summit Europe at Ludwigsburg, Germany
  • 05-Nov-2009 : Eclipse Demo Camp, Bangalore, India
  • 23-Nov-2009 : Eclipse Demo Camp, Berlin, Germany
  • 04-Dec-2009 : Eclipse Demo Camp, Hamburg, Germany

For more details see


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Comments, Imports and Constructors

According to the butterfly effect, even the slightest and minutest events can change the course of events in future. Hence, each change is significant for shaping the future.

Progress of a society can be calculated by the amount of change happening in that society. A transforming society appreciates and experiments with new ideas. But, if the new idea is evaluated using the framework of old ideas, then the old ideas become more and more rigid.

I learnt three new things which conflicted with my existing understanding. In the below points I do not want to coin the term old approach and new approach, since they are just two ways of approaching a concept.

The best way to appreciate a new idea is to experiment and see whether it makes sense.

1. Writing Comments in Code

What I Knew : Write as much comments as possible in your programs. The more the better. It can never be more than needed. I heard about various code-comment ratio - 1:1, 1:5, 5:1.

What I learnt *: Do not write a comment unless you feel that you failed to express your indent in your code. Means, write comments if your code is not expressive enough. If you have a public method

"public int findTotal(int amount1, int amount2)",

you can provide a comment "Finds the total of amount1 and amount2". This comment is redundant. Anything redundant in your code can be avoided. The method and argument names convey the indent of the programmer. Redundant content in your classes will make it difficult and time consuming to understand.

2. Wildcard imports (import*)

What I Knew : Never use wild card imports. Wild cards do not cause performance issues in java. Still the use of wild cards were considered as ineffective coding practise. The specific imports helps to identify the dependencies of your class.

What I learnt* : Use wild card imports. You just need to know which packages your class depends on. All the specific imports clutter your classes with too much information. Incase you need to know the specific imports at any point of time, you can see those imports quickly using the advanced features of the latest editors. In Eclipse, just go for 'Ctrl+Shift+O' to add specific imports.

Another reason is that specific dependencies are hard dependencies. Wild card imports reduces the coupling by avoiding the hard dependencies.

3. Default Constructors

What I knew : Always create default 'no-arg' constructors in your class, even if you do not need it at the moment. Tomorrow, if you may need to sub-class your parent class without a default constructor, you may end up in agony. If your sub-class needs a 'no-arg' constructor, you may have to write a 'no-arg' constructor for the parent class at that time.

What I learnt : Do not use default 'no-arg' constructers unless you require it.

What if my sub-class needs it tomorrow?

If your parent class doesn't indent to provide a 'no-arg' constructor, then its a design decision. Your sub-class is supposed to use only the constructor which is provided by the parent class.


* Courtesy - Clean Code by Robert C Martin

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Multitasking - the ability to do multiple tasks at a time. I am lost in the multitask world.

15 years before, every morning my father used to drink his tea while he browse through the newspaper. This is one of the few multitasks he had done in his entire life (I guess).

Today as soon as I wake up, I turn on my laptop, drink my tea, check my email, open planeteclipse, browse through multiple blogs, if there is a delay for a blog to open, I will go back to my email, in between I read the heading in the newspaper, I'll check the twitter account, how about linkedin account, new articles in, then i .... am I nuts? !!!

Bhoom! Information explosion !!!

Scientifically speaking, humans are designed to do only one thing at a time (females are an exception ;) ). Either I have to mutate to the new alpha persona with multitasking ability, or time for me to go back to the fundamentals of time management.

Prioritize, do one thing at a time. "Focus".


Friday, July 31, 2009


A few days back I had attended a talk by Shankar Subramanian on the topic 'Creativity Unleashed'. It was a very inspiring talk.

What is creativity?

According to the dictionary its "the ability to create". Creativity is nothing but thinking in new ways. The ability to create something new.

"We are the way we are because we think we are the way we are", quote by myself till someone else claims the other way.

From the day we are born to this world, lot of rules are imposed upon us. After long years of exposure to lot of rules, strong patterns of thought are formed in our brains. After a few more years, our entire behaviour follows certian patterns. Our behaviour, becomes more and more predictable. For example, if my wife interrupts me during my work, my behaviour is very predictable. The only emotion that comes to my mind at that time is 'anger'. I don't mind giving part of the credit for my predictability to my education system as well. Some kind of work requries predictability, but definitely, predictability ruins innovation.

If we take the lives of some of the greatest intellectuals in the last 1000 years, most of them did not have a normal education like the rest of the kids. A few of them had never seen schools, and a few of them were expelled from the schools. Leonardo da Vinci, Hans Anderson and Niels Bhor were considered as retarded by their school teachers. Sir Isaac Newton was told as dunce, ie, stupid and slow to learn. Thomas Alva Edison's teachers were irritated as he asked lot of questions, so they called him 'addled', ie, confused kid. Albert Einstein's teacher had told him that he "would never make a success of anything". These kids were considered as below average students by the teachers, but geniuses to the world.

Who knows, may be the impression of less intelligence helped these kids. This resulted in less rules. No one imposed the existing ways of conventional thoughts into their brains. This helped them to think in their own creative ways. They never shelled themselves to the captivity of negativity. Instead, they learned things on their own. I heard this quote sometime back "If I teach you, then thats the end". The quote makes more sense now a days.

Now, we all are adults. Most of us have predictable thinking patterns formed strongly in our brains and minds. How can we break these patterns of thought? Does these patterns make us handicapped to be creative?

The answer is 'No'. You can be creative. Creativity can be taught.

There are quite a number of tools which will help to break these patterns and help you to be creative. Edward De Bono has contributed lot of tools to these existing arsenal of creativity tools. Some of the tools are Lateral Thinking, Six thinking hats etc.

If you feel that your organization requires a talk on creativity, I recommend Shankar Subramanian. He is the founder and Principal Consultant of Ninedots. Nindots is a consulting firm which helps to improve productivity and efficiency of organizations through personal development of employees.

Lets talk about the topic which we all are comfortable with - The Eclipse. Web 2.0 has unleashed hell lot of possibilities. I hope E4 is moving in this direction. There will be a day when the entire world will be wired with high speed internet. On that day, I hope the creativity and capability of our engineers will help to transform eclipse into a complete web based platform. In future, we may teach the new engineers, "huh... do you believe that eclipse was a desktop application, back then!".


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Eclipse India Summit '09 : Happenings from Day 2

The vision of Eclipse Summit India '09 is to nurture new contributors and to create new proactive committers to the Eclipse community. If Eclipse Community is getting diversified with lots of new projects, Indian Software Community is already diversified into lot of areas; its just a matter of time to organize and channelize the motivated young developers to the eclipse community.

Annamalai, Prakash GR and Chetan Kumar has already posted about the 2nd day of the Eclipse Summit India 09 on their blogs. Please check out Its Eclipse in Clips and Eclipse Tips and Eclipse Fever to get the perspective of the summit from the eyes of the organizers and speakers of the summit.

On the 1st day I was hopping between sessions. As the rolling stone I did not gather much information for the developer in me, even though I could get lot of information and photos for my blog. My priority for the 2nd day was to gain some technical knowledge, so I opted to attend the 3 hour session 'Design patterns in Eclipse' by Ilya Shinkarenko in the morning and the 3 hour session on OSGi by Sameera Jayasoma in the afternoon.

Before the technical presentations, the 2nd day opened by the keynote talks by the platinum sponsors, and this time it was the turn of Oracle and IBM.

(Clips from different sessions at Eclipse Summit India, Day 2)

For Oracle Mr. Dhiraj Bhandari from the sales team introduced their product. He presented OEPE (Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse). This pack consists of Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse 11g, support for Web Services, JSF, ORM Workbench etc.

One of the amazing feature he showed is the 'Fast swap' feature. Earlier, if you have ever worked on a client-server software application, you know that it takes lot of time for its 'code-deploy-test' life cycle. Even if you need to make a small code change, you need to deploy the entire project and then execute it. Using the fast swap feature, just make the change in your code, save the changes and execute the server application :). The deployment happens automatically in the background, just like the compilation happens in the JDT. Its that simple.

The Oracle's strategy - They are planning to phase out Weblogic Workbench, and more importance will be given to the JDeveloper and Eclipse Packs. It was a new information for me to hear that Oracle is the #2 committer to the eclipse community, after IBM!!!

After Oracle, it was the turn of IBM to present their tool - Rapid Application Developer for Websphere. IBM slides showed some interesting survery results from Gartner Group. Only 42% users are satisfied with the quality of the software products, only 34% of projects are successful, only 37% users are happy with the execution speed of the software products etc. IBM also featured Rational Data Architect, Rational Software Modeller and Rational Software Architect.

After the keynote talks, I headed towards the talk 'Design Patterns in Eclipse'. Ilya explained some of the patterns used in the eclipse framework using a sample RCP application. The patterns covered were,
  • Adaptibles (Properties View). This can be related with the Extension Interface pattern from the traditional patterns.

  • Singleton
    eg: PlatformUI.getWorkbench(), Platform.getAdapterManager(), ResourcesPlugin.getWorkspace().

    The disadvantages of this pattern includes classloading issues, unpredictability in dyanmic OSGi environment etc

  • Bridge Pattern
    eg: OSGi Service Registry

  • Whiteboard Pattern (Pluggable Listeners)
    This is an OSGi pattern.
    eg: Usage of ServiceTracker to register listeners

  • Proxy-Bridge Pattern (IResource to access the file system)

  • Composite Pattern (IWorkspace)

  • Observer Pattern - for tracking resource changes, event listeners in SWT.

  • Visitor Pattern
    eg: IResourceDelta and IResourceDeltaVisitor, IResource and IResourceVisitor etc

  • Strategy Pattern - Layout managers in SWT

  • Plugable Adapters - Label and Content providers in Jface

  • Command pattern - IAction implementation

  • Memento - For persisting UI state in Eclipse workbench.

  • Virtual Proxies - The lazy loading rule.
It was quite a useful session. Thanks Ilya for all the details.

(Clips from different sessions at Eclipse Summit India, Day 2)

During the lunch session I could interact with the Platform team from IBM. Post lunch I headed towards OSGi session by Sameera Jayasoma from Sri Lanka. He is a senior developer at WSO2 Inc., the open source SOA Company. He started his talk with a few words on WSO2 Carbon. Then he explained the need for modular systems and went to the details of OSGi. The workshop had lot of hands-on demos. I created my first OSGi project :).

The 3 hour long session gave some valuable information about OSGi internals.

Meanwhile in the other rooms, Anshu Jain from IBM talked about 'Eclipse: A framework of frameworks'; Janakiram MSV, Deputy General Manager, Bell Labs India talked about Google AppEngine for Java and Eclipse Developers; Krishna Venkataraman, Director, Product Management, Actuate Corp., presented Actuate's prestigious product BIRT; Srinivas Kantipudi talked about a few Eclipse Test Automation Tools, Munnangi Ravindra Babu talked about 'Fast track to develop online analytical applications using BIRT.

There were a few Salt March get aways like T-shirts, gifts from quick contests etc.

Salt March Media and ANCIT consulting had done a great job by organzing such a mega event successfully. As the eclipse community grows in India, the credit definitely goes to organizations like these, who think about the future and act. As I had mentioned in my previous blogs, open source is not a charity always; many businesses thrive on the open source model; but as open source projects 'gets' the revenue, it 'gives' back to the community; its a win-win situation.

And together, we grow as a community.