Team Sport

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-06-07 Print this article Print

So, do you feel that the things Microsoft is doing are its response to Rational and IBM? Well, Im never going to try to second-guess whats in Microsofts mind, but Rational certainly now is the place inside IBM that owns the tools strategy. And for IBM, that means its not just the IDE, which is very important, its also about all the other lifecycle tools that surround it.
Software development is ultimately a team sport. So, we can focus upon getting faster compilers and all those kinds of things, but ultimately its about getting the stakeholders on the project to work together.
Especially if we look at the increased distribution of the terms in the presence of increased outsourcing, although were not going to dive into that one at the moment because thats a topic unto itself … That means that, yeah, I need to deal with the individual developer experience, but Ive got to also deal with the team experience. Thats the strategy that Rational has been pursuing for some time. And in fact, as a partner with Microsoft, thats a lot of what we supplied to their customers. But now that were part of IBM, I only have to believe that leaves a void in Microsofts strategy. Click here to read more about IBMs response to Microsofts app lifecycle moves. Who else do you see out there thats doing good stuff in the modeling area? Well, if you look at the folks who are involved in the UML itself, were talking a whole host of small companies—all the large platform vendors have been players in it to some degree. Borland [Software Corp.] is certainly playing in this space as well. Heavens, there are even some open-source projects for UML—Argo UML was perhaps one of the first ones. And you might think thats terrible for us. But being a believer in open source as well, which I know annoys some of the folks in Redmond, I view it as actually a good thing because it represents a commoditization of parts of the marketplace and it forces us to keep adding value. And the fact that it is in the open-source community says to me, this stuff is absolutely pervasive. To read a review of Borlands JBuilder X, click here. Well, how deeply has UML actually penetrated? Whats interesting is if you look at the penetration of the UML in those places, its not an all-or-nothing thing. The cool thing about UML is we really designed it to approach the needs of lots of different stakeholders. So, although if you read the specification it looks horribly daunting, in practice what is happening—which is actually what we expected would happen and what should be happening—is different stakeholders are taking different pieces of it. For example, I recently had a call with some people who are using the UML to describe deployment of systems. So, as I look at large enterprise systems, one of the questions you ask yourself is, what the heck are all the pieces I have deployed out there? And what versions are they? There are lots of ways to visualize that. But the fact that you can visualize it in UML is interesting. Because it means then that I can take that same visualization and the same semantics that might be written by network engineers, who know nothing about programming, but that same language can then be understood by your security folks, who want to reason about those models as well, too. So, what were seeing is—we see this especially in our model-driven development effort—that there are some specific points of pain that the UML is really adding value to, and deployment, business rules and patterns are three that come to mind. But each one of those is not the whole UML, just a piece of UML. But the fact that theyre all using UML means you have a single, clear voice as a development experience. And development is noisy enough as it is, so whatever one can do to reduce that friction and have common languages certainly helps. So, whats the bottom line with Microsoft now pledging support for modeling? Its good to see this now on their radar screen. We thought its been mainstream for some time, but the fact that Microsoft is now acknowledging it has been very, very cool. Check out eWEEK.coms Developer & Web Services Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

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Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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