Thursday, October 25, 2007

Up Next, Free Software and Open Source Symposium

Free Software and Open Source Symposium
I meant to get this post out much earlier than the night before the event but I think it will still be useful as all of the symposium content is recorded and available online for free from the FSOSS site. (You can check out last year's talks now, including my presentation about Ajax toolkits.)

Up next for me is the Free Software and Open Source Symposium (FSOSS) at Seneca College running from Oct. 26-27. This will be my third year at this event and the first year the event will span two days. This is another event I've found to have very high quality presentations and a lot of good people from various backgrounds. In fact FSOSS is sponsored by, among others, Mozilla, BMO Bank of Montreal, Novell, Seneca College, and Apple.

Here's my agenda for this two day event:

9-10 Usability Anonymous: A 12 Step Program for Better User Experiences
I've really gotten into user experience and how I can improve it in my products. I'm interested to see what David and Jay's 12 step program is after reading book like The Inmates Are Running the Asylum and User Interface Design for Programmers.

10-11 Facebook's Thrift: Scalable Cross-Language Development
This is a talk about some of the technology that supports the Facebook platform. I really don't know anything about Facebook from a technical perspective and this is the first opportunity I've had to hear directly from the dev team.

11-12 Product and User Experience Design in Open Communities
Amazingly I've never seen Mike present. Although I'm interested in the topic I'm going to his talk to see if he's as funny in front of a room of people as he is in person. (My bet's on yes.)

1-2 Welcome To The Jungle: A Field Guide To Enterprise Computing
Read the abstract for this talk. It just seems like it's going to be fun.

2-3 Open Commercial Development
This is the talk I'm giving with Jeff Liu. Our talks the last couple years have been on Open technologies (Eclipse WTP and Ajax toolkits) so this is a bit of a change for us.

3-4 Keynote: Applying Open Source Concepts to Non-software Industries

9-10 Accessible Rich Internet Applications
This is real concern as RIAs break many of the existing solutions for accessibility. I'm currently building an RIA so I think this will be a useful talk.

10-11 Shifting the Focus: 3.0
IBM recently announced that it will collaborate on OpenOffice. Think I'll check out what's new and upcoming.

11-12 Open Source in the Telephony Market
Asterisk is pretty cool. My brother-in-law uses it to power the telephone system for his small business (RentMagic) and I've been meaning to set up a test box for a while to play with this Open Source telephony application.

1-2 Community as A Core Competency: Microsoft and Open Source
Although I've been disapointed by other MS talks at Open Source conferences this one again looks interesting and so I'm holding out hope.

2-3 A Linux Desktop on Every PC
Marcel is a great speaker. (I've seen him twice at this event.) I'm looking forward to what I'm sure will be an energetic talk.

3-4 Keynote: Open Source Economics: Stakeholder Perspectives

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Another Error Message for the Hall of Fame

I was trying to create a DVD with InterVideo WinDVD Creator V2 (which came bundled with my ThinkPad) this weekend when I was presented with an error dialog.

Can not complete authoring process due to some error.This immediately seemed to me like a candidate for the error message Hall of Fame. Not only does this error message contain no useful information but after failing the program seems to remove all clues as to what it had done so I can't even debug the problem myself.

I'd like to think that due to the Open Source process (with committers elected due to their proven technical expertise) that Eclipse is immune from poor error messages. Unfortunately this isn't always true. However Eclipse and other Open Source software does have a great advantage from community review (many eyes). The community is a great help in locating poor error messages.

One error message, which is partially my fault as I let it be propagated through the WSDL validator, was recently identified in a WTP newsgroup posting about the WS-I WSDL validator. The error message in question is:
"WS-I: A problem occurred while running the WS-I WSDL conformance check: org.eclipse.wst.wsi.internal.analyzer.WSIAnalyzerException. The WS-I Test Assertion Document(TAD) was not found or could not be processed. The WSDLAnalyzer was not able to validate the given WSDL file."
I think there are a number of problems with this message.
  1. The message identifies an internal exception. If the exception is one that a user should understand it should probably be part of an API.
  2. The message refers to the WS-I Test Assertion Document (TAD) without any explanation of what this is or why this is affecting the end user. I think a link would be very helpful here.
  3. The message doesn't give the user any suggestions how to resolve the problem.
I've brought this up as I think it's a good reminder to do your best to think like your users when creating error messages. An easy way to do a quick dry run is to simply ask the person sitting next to you (either physically on online) whether they understand the message.

Oh, and in case you're interested, I've opened bug 206845 for the WS-I error message above.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Find Lawrence at Cascon 2007, Oct. 22-25

I'll be presenting and attending Cascon next week (Oct. 22-25) and thought I'd share where I'll be spending my time.

Not familiar with Cascon? Cascon is IBM's annual Centre for Advanced Studies CONference. I've been attending Cascon since 2003 (with the exception of 2005, when I was at OOPSLA) and every year it has had extremely high quality hands-on workshops and presentations covering a range of topics. (I've personally lead hands-on workshops covering XML, Web services, and RIA and Ajax.) And, it's free as in beer! (There is no registration fee.) This is a great opportunity for students to get out, meet some people in industry, and learn about some different technology. But, I digress.

Here's my schedule:

9-5 Hands-on: Introduction to Ajax Technologies
I'll be leading this hands on workshop with Jen Hawkins, Aron Wallaker, and Jeffrey Liu.

5-7 Technology Showcase: Enterprise Portfolio Management
Come take a look at my current project building tools to facilitate Enterprise Portfolio Management.


8:30 Best Paper Awards
I'll be awarding each of the best paper winners with a copy of my book Eclipse Web Tools Platform. (Haven't read it yet? Head on over to Amazon and pick one up. Find me at Cascon and I'll be happy to sign it for you. :) )

10:15-10:45 Paper: Runtime Monitoring of Web Service Conversations

Looks like an interesting paper about ensuring the correct functioning of Web services.

11-1 Technology Showcase: Enterprise Portfolio Management
Missed the Technology Showcase on Monday? It's open for the rest of the conference. I'll again be at the booth on Tuesday during lunch.

1-5 Hands-on: Learn about Adobe Flex

I'll be attending this workshop. I think it should nicely complement the Ajax workshop I'll be presenting on Monday.

10:45-11:15 Paper: An Audit Trail Service to Enhance Privacy Compliance in Federated Identity Management
This is a paper with possible use in Enterprise Portfolio Management.

1-5 Hands-on: Business Process Modeling and Simulation: An SOA Adoption using WebSphere Business Modeler

I don't know enough about BPM and think this should give me a kick start.

Although Cascon will run on Thursday, Wednesday will be my last day as I'm scheduled to speak at the Seneca College Free Software and Open Source Symposium on Thursday. More about that event in my next post.