Archive for June 2012

The Six Laws Of Software Design

A poster showing the Six Laws of Software Design

The Six Laws Of Software Design (Click to download at full size)

Whether it’s COBOL code written in the 60s or it’s a snazzy new Ruby on Rails app, fundamental laws of software design apply. Violate them at your peril.

Max Kanat-Alexander, a reader of the O’Reilly book Code Simplicity contributed this poster at O’Reilly’s Facebook page.  I loved it: and maybe you will too, if you can read it.  Which you can’t, not at the resolution it’s at on this page.  What you can do is click the image once, making it appear larger.  Click it again to see / download it in all its 1400 pixel wide glory, send it off to the large-format output of your choice, tack it on the wall and proudly announce to the world that In This Shop, We Follow The Law.

Or something like that.

Note Law #2 in particular: an elegant formula for determining the cost/benefit ratio of development.  The perfect thing to bring the corner-office people back down to earth the next time they come back from a conference all wild-eyed and desperate to implement some dubious set of capabilities for no especially good reason.

ABENDing Mainframe Myths

Photo of 1960s mainframe and staff

“Yep. Next year’s model comes in almost half the space as this one.”

Great article debunks mainframe myths

So I’m standing up and cheering over Gabe Goldberg’s terrific article over at Destination Z entitled “The Truth Will Set You Free: Injecting some accuracy about mainframes out there”.  Everybody needs to read this — especially all the past and future detractors of our beloved Big Iron.

Getting goofy information or being a victim of FUD (aka Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) about mainframes is a common occurrence.  Hearing nonsense in sales pitches is to be expected — nobody should really expect a vendor to entirely overcome its conflict of interest when handing out IT or systems advice.

But far beyond that, for a lot of reasons, the overall profile of mainframes in IT are kind of low, and understanding of their role is limited.  They’re not front and center in the IT discussion — and with distance has always come distortion.  As Gabe puts it:

“The oldest—astonishingly long-lived—myths claim “the mainframe is dead/dying/doomed.” It’s tempting to answer this by pointing to Stewart Alsop’s 1991 assertion that the last mainframe would be uninstalled within five years, which led to his eating his words. And noting that while other technologies have come and gone, the mainframe simply improves. Since Alsop’s bad bet, we’ve seen more than a few major processor and OS generations, and we’re coming up on the 50th birthday of what’s still a compatible computing architecture.”

He goes on to demolish two dozen or so of the most persistent myths about mainframes.

Seriously, go read this.  It’s great.

DB2 Dean: The Classic Infomercial

“DB2 Dean” Compher is our kind of guy. A big data / DB2 / Hadoop-head out of Salt Lake City who gets a kick out of how ridiculously ahead of the curve DB2 is in just about every metric any DBA ever cared about. His blog is awesome, his shirts are psychedelic and his mastery of DB2 is beyond question. Truly, the late-night TV informercial industry’s loss is big data’s gain.


Executive Order: All US Government Agencies Must Deploy A Web API

Seal of the President
The Applications Programming Interface, that language-independent “exposure of functions to the outside world” as my CS prof once summed it up, is no longer an option for any of Uncle Sam’s many agencies.  All federal shops are, per executive order of President Barack Obama, now required to support a web API.

Government Mainframes To Open Up

Among other things, the order is meant to “ensur[e] the safe and secure delivery and use of digital services to protect information and privacy; requiring agencies to establish central online resources for outside developers and to adopt new standards for making applicable  Government information open and machine-readable by default;  aggregating agencies’ online resource pages for developers in  a centralized catalogue on; and requiring agencies  to use web performance analytics and customer satisfaction measurement tools on all “.gov” websites.”

The order gives pause. Every government agency? Surely the NSA is not scrambling to grant remote public access to its considerable data holdings. Still, the order is plain, and one thing is for sure: is going to have a hell of a year.

The Year Of The API

Beyond this, I noticed that a landmark software patent lawsuit concerning API copyrightability was just lost by Oracle, and by extension, the boardrooms of big business.  I think we can declare 2012 the year of the API.  And in the mainframe world, that means good news for vendors plying the space between CICS and IMS, and more generally, the space between COBOL and Java.