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Looking for a definition of an architect

On top of my J2EE consultancy work, I teach one evening a week at university. The topics I cover go from UML modelling, Design Patterns, Refactoring, Java APIs, Servlets, JSP, XML, EJBs, XML to Web Services . My students have to do a weekly exercise and therefore have to model and write lots of Java classes (and refactor them from time to time). At the end of the year, I always have the same question: « Will I have to do all this work if I become an architect? » In my students heads, an architect is someone who doesn’t write code anymore (even better, someone who never had to write a line in his/her entire life, not even a Hello World). I try to tell them that it’s difficult to link customers, project leaders and developers without having any technical background. One day I was so frustrated, that in my following class I introduced two new slides so we could talk about it. Here is the content (picked up from Enterprise Architect for J2EE Technology book): “The ideal architect should be a person of letters, a mathematician, familiar with historical studies, a diligent student of philisophy, acquainted with music, not ignorant of medecine, learned in the responses of juriconsults, familiar with astronomy and astronomical calculations – Vitruvius, 25 BC” After lots of laughter I showed them the following slide which contains more accurate information based on our job (Software […]

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You Need A Workflow ? Just Use Database Views !

I’m still working for the same massive telecommunication company and trying to understand the tricky architecture of the expensive software they bought and are trying to use, see my previous post Today I’ve discovered how works a new piece of the architecture : the workflow. Their business rules are more or less these ones: managers arrive in the morning and dispatch the work through their team. A worker does the actual work and a supervisor checks that it’s done properly and accepts it or not. I’m simplyfing here but I have to tell you that the entire national team is about 4000 person big and deals with thousands and thousands of request a day. During the meetings, the guys where talking about workflow this and workflow that. So I asked them to show me the workflow engine… which engine?, there is no engine. The workflow is just made of dozens of database views : the supervisors use one view (this view is a view of a view of 2 views, because the business rules are too complicated to describe in one single SQL statement), the worker use several views depending on the work he does, and the same for managers. Oh, I forgot to tell you that one of their problems is performance. Some table have 20 millions entries, and of course, running all these views several times a minutes brings Oracle down. I might go and change the workflow […]

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How thick is a rich thin client ?

Long time ago, client machines were so thin that they didn’t even have a hard drive or a floppy disk. The screen was black and green and all the work (even the display) was made on the server. Hardware became cheap, memory, hard drive… let’s put less pressure on the server and develop thick clients. VB, Power Builder and so on arrived. Internet arrived a bit later with a stateless protocol carrying HTML to be displayed on browsers. That was thin and colorful (forget the black and green)… but java said, “hey, let’s write some thick applets”. Now companies and software editors are re-developing their thick applications so they can become thin again. I am working at the moment for a big telecommunication company who purchased a very expensive CRM tool (Customer Relationship Management). This tool is massive : 4 CD of source code developed in Java/J2EE but also with a bit of C++. This tool (sorry, I don’t want to say the name) was written in VB and the company decided now to move to Java using a thin architecture. But of course, thin is thin, not thick so it doesn’t do the same think that a good old VB application. Well, let’s make our thin client rich then !!! These guys are using 15Mo of javascript into their pages. Of course, to make it easier to read, not all the scripts are nicely isolated in .js files but […]

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