Architects vs. Developers
So I work in a company with a couple of other architects. And these architects grew up designing j2ee apps using ejbs, servlets, jms, all that good stuff that j2ee makes you know. My company has lots of developers who grew up writing c and cobol and all those things where you spent lots of time on the program, not the architecture.

So, naturally this leads to some confusions. For example, when it comes time to design a process to send binary data down to the browser to display (like a pdf or word doc or something), instead of designing something nice like a binary downloader and displayer, someone writes a program that hard codes word documents down to the browser by writing the word doc to the server's file system and them streaming and opened file down to the browser. So it goes like this: 1) read data from db 2) write data into word doc on file system 3) open word doc 4) stream down to the browser. And once an architect notices this code and the possible negative side affects it may have, the code is already in production.

There's also the flip side which shows how mad an architect can be when a developer is needed. I worked with an architect a few years ago (to protect anonymity I'll call him "Francke") who designed a dynamic content system based off of Java's i18n stuff. So we just needed to show a different graphic for different customers in the same war file and Francke wrote about 1800 lines of "framework" code to display this custom branding information. A bit of bad development was that he loved inner classes and never learned how to comment in Java (or C or JavaScript or anything else). Sadly, he was fired just days after bringing his daughter around and showing her to everyone (cute kid).

So, the whole point is that architects need to be checked by developers to make sure our designs don't suck and developers need to be checked by architects to make sure their code won't cause needless rework.

Also, something funny. I saw a resume (or maybe it was a job posting) that used the word "Architected" as in "Francke architected an enterprise level branding system." Is "design" a bad word or something? Will people get mixed up and think you're a photoshop jockey if you say "Francke designed an enterprise level branding system."?

Software development needs a new word for the architect role. I'm tired of people asking if I like Frank Lloyd Wright.
  Vienna Pictures
Sorry, this isn't a technical post, but here [flickr] and here [shutterfly] are some pictures from my recent trip to Vienna.

Of course the cell phones and plans are better over there and Sprint sucks for not having any phones that work in Europe.

Also, MARTA really seems inferior compared to all the other subway systems of the world. Shame on you Georgia.
  How hard is it to get a price estimate?
So, since my project develops a lot of J2EE apps for various servers we do a not of debugging and profiling of J2EE apps on various app servers.

Currently we use OptimizeIt from Borland for some stuff, but we're thinking of adding a new tool to get better profiling data. One of our senior architects narrowed it down to JProbe from Quest and Introscope from Wily Technologies.

We need to profile on AIX, Solaris, HPUX, Windows and zOS on OAS, OC4J, Tomcat, WAS and WLS. Neither of these products does everything but based on the documentation, it seems Wily comes pretty close (JProbe only works on RedHat's zLinux for zOS).

So the first step is to get price estimates and evals. This should be pretty easy, but proved to be a monumental pain in the rear end. I guess this stuff would cost between $5-20k so I expected to get pricing info online. Guess again, neither site provided pricing info online.

So I got out my phone and started calling. Both had regional sales reps who were out of the office and no one else could give me pricing information. So I placed messages and waited. The JProbe guy was pretty responsive and I talked to him and got all the info I need by the next day. Wily proved a bit more annoying.

I've gotten a couple of emails from the sales rep and a promise or two for him to call me, but it's been a week now and no contact.

So my question is, why the heck do I have to talk to sales people to get pricing and licensing info? I'm not buying some massive enterprise system. I just want some java software. It should be painless.

So short story, my budget is up in the air and I'm really wishing there was a good open source profiling tool out there. I think OS is taking off just because there's none of these stupid pricing frustrations.
Technical and personal notes from Brian Lee, technologist/enterprise architect/software developer/soa guy.

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Name: Brian Lee
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States


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