In search of the holy grail, again
When I started at @WalmartLabs I was placed on team that was tasked with creating a new web framework from scratch that could power large public facing web sites.
How fast can the enterprise change?
At last year’s Fluent Conference, I kept having the same conversation with attendees from large companies. They had come to the show with a mandate from their bosses to figure out how to bring that fast-moving web work into their slow-moving enterprise systems.
I enjoyed some of that same conversation this year, but also a different note: even with management support, making that transition was difficult. Some parts meshed, others were difficult: changes in one place could reverberate through many others. The whole concept of “rapid prototyping” fit badly with a variety of technologies and approaches meant to minimize unpleasant surprises. Even eight years after the advent of Ajax, a variety of server-centric techniques limit the flexibility of front-end developers.
Someone at lunch said that “the technology helps, but the culture matters.” A few others talked about how everyone wanted better front-end work, but thought it could be grafted easily on existing back-end practice. The shiny parts are easy to talk about, but the plumbing is harder.
I was happy to see Bill Scott (@billwscott) of PayPal take on these challenges in his keynote. Bill wasn’t smuggling anything—that would be difficult under the title “Clash of the Titans: Releasing the Kraken.” He was brought to PayPal to change the company, to bring the lean “build – measure – learn” approach. In a risk-averse world, with “a 20-day class on how to use their version of Spring,” Scott had to change the “culture of a long shelf life” (something publishing folks are starting to do as well).
It’s a hard-hitting talk, calling for major change, skunkworks projects, and shifts in both company culture and technology.
Fault lines make conversation difficult
Pam Selle visited the server side, demonstrating Prototyping a la Node with Express (at 1:02:41). She showed how to quickly build a simple application for user testing, explaining how the testing worked as well as the code (at 1:14:17, though I really liked the discussion of anger in testing at 1:17:20).
The Fluent conference co-chairs look ahead.
Peter Cooper and I have tried to capture some of this power in the upcoming Fluent conference, so that attendees can find their ways to the tools that work for them. We also have an online preview coming this Thursday, April 4th.
The benefits of functional languages and functional language techniques.
O'Reilly editors Mike Loukides and Mike Hendrickson discuss the advantages of functional programming languages and how functional language techniques can be deployed with almost any language.
How Microsoft is contributing to and benefitting from open source.
Microsoft seems to be embracing open source more and more. What does this tell us about the company's near-term future?