Saturday, September 22, 2007


With the announcement of JRuby in Glassfish or the end of mongrel it seems to offer Sun the hope of capturing more developers not just from Ruby but from .NET. Many people from both Java and C# worlds jumped to Ruby and it occurred to me that .NET developers using Netbeans for Ruby development may notice that there's a suprisingly good C# clone under the covers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Beautiful or Otherwise

Two of the chapters from Beautiful Code Alberto Savoia chapter Beautiful Tests and Simon Peyton Jones on concurrency are available in PDF form. Beautiful Tests covers most of the different kinds of tests and how to make changes to code to make it more testable and starts to cover creating and validating theories.

Speaking of tests, Scala, DSLs, Behavior Driven Development?, talks about how Java is poor at creating DSLs specifically compared to Scala. And what's the application? Behavior driven development in a Java project called beanSpec (which superficially looks similar to Instinct probably as they're both based on RSpec and using the same stack example). So you have this neat sort of convergence where people are looking at testing Java better in ways that are more declarative (functional even).

Making Java more functional is on the cards for Java 7 in, Will Java 7 be Beautiful?, it links to point free programming in Java and Haskell and how the new language proposals (closures) make Java 7 look a lot like Haskell with the suggestion that all Java 7 functions should be curried.

While the syntax is potentially getting more beautiful, the user interfaces are traditionally pretty poor in Java (even with OS X support) but even that is changing. I've been following Chet Haase's blog and recently Filthy Rich Clients was made available to purchase. It's all about improving the look and feel of Java and to finally approach the richness of native OS X and Windows applications. He even has some links about language proposals too, including bringing back line numbers. Some examples of their work are on the web site and on Roman Guy's blog which includes an entry called Beautiful Swing.

Roman also linked to a movie of *7 the prototype handheld device running Green (Java). Who knew Duke had a house?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Real LINQ Clone for Java

Introducing Quaere - Language integrated queryies for Java
The Quaere DSL is very flexible and it lets you perform a wide range of queries against any data structure that is an array, or implements the java.lang.Iterable or the org.quaere.Queryable interface. Below is an overview of the querying and other features available through the DSL interface, the underlying query expression model and query engine. See the examples section to gain an understanding of how these features are used.

* Ability to perform queries against arrays or data structure implementing the Iterable interface.
* An internal DSL (based on static imports and fluent interfaces) that lets you integrate the query language with regular Java code. No preprocessing or code generation steps are required to use the DSL, simply add a reference to the quaere.jar file (and its dependencies).
* A large number of querying operators including restriction, selection, projection, set, partitioning, grouping, ordering, quantification, aggregation and conversion operators.
* Support for lambda expressions.
* The ability to dynamically define and instantiate anonymous classes.
* Many new “keywords” for Java 1.5 and later.

Via, Quaere: LINQ for Java.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Column Databases Reach Slashdot

In a typically incorrect charactization of the issue Slashdot is covering column databases: Relational database pioneer says technology is obsolete via Are Relational Databases Obsolete?. A better way to explain it, is that column databases are designed to get around the current problems with modern computer architectures such as latency in memory and hard disks as well as achieving better CPU utilization (typically databases have very little parallelism).

While it's early days yet, column databases storing something like RDF may get faster than row-oriented SQL databases. I posted about column databases storing RDF previously.

"Vertica beats all row stores on the planet -- typically by a factor of 50," he wrote. "The only engines that come closer are other column stores, which Vertica typically beats by around a factor of 10."

And from the cited blog:
In addition, it provides built-in features appropriate to the needs of 2007 customers. These include:

o Linear scalability over a shared-nothing hardware grid
o Automatic high availability
o Automatic use of materialized views
o "No knobs" -- minimum DBA requirements

Seeing as though I've just been looking into this here are a few references:
Update: InfoQ and artima have also picked up on the story.
Update 2: While I'm normally pretty skeptical about most things, column databases have had their own fair share of problems in the past.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Perfect Storm (of Erlang)

It would be remiss of me not to keep track one of the other contenders for scalability. The first hint was a few days ago with, "CouchDB: Thinking beyond the RDBMS":
CouchDB on first look seems like the future of database without the weight that is SQL and write consistency.

It stores document in a flat space.

There are no schemas. But you do store (and retrieve) JSON objects. Cool kids rejoice.

And all this happens using Real REST (you know, the one with PUT, DELETE and no envelopes to hide stuff), so it doesn’t matter that CouchDB is implemented in Erlang. (In fact, Erlang is a feature)

CouchDB and for even cooler kids, there's a Ruby API too.

The other bit that adds to this is the RDF JSON specification or RDFON. The first specification doesn't support nesting which means only named blank nodes are supported - which I think is a bug - naming things, especially things that don't naturally have names, can be a pain. The second was criticized as being a diversion away from N3.

I'm for a way to make it easier for programmers and web browsers to have better access to RDF data. Whether there needs to be another format to describe RDF is a bit unclear though - although being able to store it in a scalable way, perform queries and update it through REST seems like a positive. JSON is in that fuzzy area between code and data with its own drawbacks (like security).

Just to keep the pro scale-out/Hadoop/MapReduce etc. architecture going here's a recent posting on the more general issue:
Functional programming paradigms, the map/reduce pattern, and to a lesser extent distributed and parallel processing in general are subjects not widely understood by most quasi-technical management. Further, the notion of commodity machines with guarenteed lack of reliability as a means of achieving high performance and high scalability is essentially counterintuitive. Even referring newcomers to what I regard as the seminal papers on these topics (the papers written by Ghemewat, Dean et al at Google, and yes I know it all started with LISP but my management wasn't even alive in the 1970s although I was :-)), people steeped in a long tradition of "shared everything" database architectures still don't quite get it. I spend considerable amounts of time in what amounts to management de-programming: No MySQL can't do this, and Oracle can't either, except with Oracle it will cost you a lot more to find that out.

Update: Dare corrects some mistakes made in the above posting about CouchDB. The way I read the original was it wasn't saying it was replacing relational databases just offering a better solution for certain kinds of problems. Where, "thinking beyond" is not being constrained by the expected features of a database.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Known Unknowns

Blank nodes for the lay person.