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The Human Touch

Posted by editor on September 7, 2005 at 7:46 AM PDT

Do some programmers avoid their users?

There's a really interesting comment in a discussion on Desktop Careers in the Your Java Career forum. I'll let johnreynolds take it from here:

As a User Interaction person, you are going to have to deal with Users and their Opinions. The further you move towards the technical end of the spectrum, the less you will have to deal with uncertainty (the wire protocol either works, or it doesn't).

For most of my career, I have worked on the User side with technologies all the way from character mode DOS to Swing to HTML. I've always worked for small companies, because I like gathering input from users and negotiating solutions. I couldn't code a UI to a concrete specification if you put a gun to my head.

Friends of mine hate this kind of work. Any ambiguity in a requirement drives them batty. These guys are great at writing device drivers.

If you're a desktop programmer, you've probably been in both of these moods. Desktop Java is what I've done for most of my career, and like John, I'd prefer to work with people directly, and get my GUI right in front of them. That said, a few rounds with testers -- especially when QA is hired late in the game and doesn't know what the app is supposed to do -- can send me running for the server side. My personal low point: a tester who was convinced she could crash our Java application by dropping the mouse from a height of several inches. Seriously.

So, it's understandable that you might want to work on the back-end, or at the framework/middleware level, where you'll primarily work with other developers and their standards. You know your values will be respected and you know you'll be able to communicate how much effort things take. Another true story: a non-technical friend of mine hated a new system that his company had installed because it didn't have undo. He figured they were lazy idiots because "it's only one menu item."

On the other hand, if you're intrinsically drawn to working on the desktop, working with people and doing work that directly affects them, chances are you can't help it. That's what you like, and while it's not the hottest thing in Java (not by a long shot), it's what matters to you.

Also in today's Forums, the Mobicents project has kicked off an effort for
XMPP Resource Adaptor collaboration.
ivelin writes:
"This message begins a new thread an collaboration between interested parties to a new XMPP RA. The RA will be compatible with Jabber software as well as Google Talk. In the future it will also support the voice XMPP extensions proposed by Google. pchaino at PT, Lisbon expressed intention to contribute a working prototype, which should be a great starting point. Vodafone R&D also expressed open interest in the RA and is willing to work closely with PT on it once it is contributed to the Mobicents CVS. I would like to encourage the folks from both companies to add a message to this thread with their current status and future plans with the XMPP RA."

Jacob Hookom is brain-storming Tomorrow's Webtop Application in today's Weblogs. He writes:
"Thin clients will probably continue to be the deployment of choice, but so many developers spend all of their time trying to dress up a web page to act/feel like a desktop application. What will you use to develop your next desktop application?"

In Ocean, Gradients and Image Caching - oh my Scott Violet shows off
"how Ocean gradients are drawn and how we were able to make Ocean perform as well as Steel."

Tim Boudreau is soliciting feedback about
"Split Class" refactoring:
"For a while now, I've been thinking a refactoring I've never seen would be pretty useful. Tell me if it's a good idea, or if it just means my style of coding is too chaotic and I'm crazy :-)"

In Projects and
Jason Lam is releasing his work-in-progress book J2ME & Gaming under the GPL. The book "is about programming with J2ME on wireless devices with focus on developing games... The book also serves as quick reference for Java programmers who are interested in game mobile game development." PDF's are available along with source at the book's site.

Do I need to change my Java application to run on Intel-based Macintosh computers? This Apple Technical Q & A says the answer is generally "no".
However, JNI libraries and applications that use native launchers must be rebuilt as "universal binaries", as they do not run under Rosetta. The article also illustrates updating XCode projects to create universal binaries.

In Also in
Java Today
with the growing popularity of content management applications, the need for a common, standardized API for content repositories has become apparent. The Content Repository for Java Technology API (JSR-170) aims to provide such an interface. In Introducing the Java Content Repository API, you'll use the open source Apache Jackrabbit implementation of JSR-170 to explore the features offered by this promising framework by designing a simple Wikipedia-like encyclopedia backend.

IRC is great, but who has time to switch from their work to the IRC client
every few seconds? Fortunately, Java can help you out. In the reprised
feature IRC
Text to Speech with Java
, Paul Mutton shows how you can
connect two open source frameworks--one for the IRC client and the other
for converting text to speech--and then just listen in to the conversation
over headphones or speakers.

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Do some programmers avoid their users?