TweetFollow Us on Twitter

September 93 - Office Memo: Tools USA Report

Office Memo: Tools USA Report

Steve Mann

In 1988 Bertrand Meyer published one of the landmark books on object-oriented development, Object-oriented Software Construction. In this excellent book Dr. Meyer presented most of his principles and examples using an object-oriented language called Eiffel (we expect to have a technical overview of Eiffel in FrameWorks in the near future). At about the same time, he also started a company called Interactive Software Engineering. ISE became the first company to offer a commercial implementation of Eiffel.

Several years later, ISE is still hard at work selling Eiffel and Eiffel tools all over the world. In addition, there are two other commercial implementations of the language, an independent Eiffel Standards Group, a Consortium of Eiffel users, several additional Eiffel books, a quarterly Eiffel publication, and finally, the Tools conferences. ISE organizes and hosts three different Tools conferences every year: Tools USA (which I just attended in Santa Barbara, CA, an excellent location for a conference), Tools Pacific (to be held in November in Melbourne Australia), and Tools Europe (early March in Versailles, Paris, France). Tools Pacific and Tools Europe are reputed to be the largest object-oriented conferences in Australia and Europe.

The Conference

Tools USA consisted of two days of tutorials, two days of keynote speakers intermixed with paper presentations, a special OO education symposium, followed by a one-day Eiffel conference. I attended the first four days. There were more than 200 attendees from all over the world. Because of ISE's sponsorship, there was quite a bit of Eiffel praising and C++ bashing (which I found refreshing after the market blitz being exhibited by C++ champions during the past year or so). And, I have to admit, the Eiffel advocates were generally fair and unbiased about Eiffel's strengths and weaknesses.

There were five separate tutorial tracks covering technical and management topics, and case studies. Many were taught by leaders in the field. For instance, Dr. Richard Wiener, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Object-Oriented Programming, did a detailed, four-hour comparison of C++, Smalltalk, and Eiffel. At the risk of trivializing his work, he summed everything up very nicely by stating that Eiffel is great for design, Smalltalk is great for prototyping, and C++ is a good choice if you have serious performance requirements. He didn't really discuss combinations of languages (such as Eiffel with C++ for those code sections where you really need to optimize things).

The Keynotes

Most of the keynote speakers also did an excellent job. Roger Osmond, Director of Software Engineering for Bytex Corporation, presented a very strong case study for OO technology (specifically Eiffel) to develop a mission-critical network management product. Unlike much of the conventional OO wisdom which counsels introducing OO technology with a non critical project, Bytex started with a high-risk "bet-the-whole-company" project. His very funny keynote discussed the differences between their expectations and the realities of what happened. The punch line is that they completed the project on time, saved the company, won a bunch of awards, and lived happily ever after. As a reward, Roger gets to go around to conferences and tell his story.

Roger also gets the award for the best C++ slurs (these are direct quotes). This is good stuff:

  • "C++: stop it before it kills again."
  • "C++ is an object-tolerant language at best."
  • "C++ will bring about the next software crisis if we use it without restraint."
  • "C++ is the lead rat at the front of a pack of lemmings that are racing towards the cliff at the edge of the sea" (this is somewhat paraphrased-I couldn't write fast enough).

    The other outstanding keynote was by Meilir Page-Jones, a well-known consultant from Wayland Systems who specializes in introducing OO technologies into organizations. Based on the title of his presentation ("Object-Orientation: Management Implications") I thought it would be pretty boring. As it turns out, he is both well informed and entertaining. To start things off, he outlined the most popular reasons why a software development manager decides to introduce object-oriented technology into an organization:

  • because it's the latest thing
  • because they read about it in BusinessWeek
  • because their boss's boss read about it in BusinessWeek
  • because the programmers want C++ on their resumes
  • because the user want icons and a mouse
  • because the competition is using it
  • because they went to a talk by Bertrand Meyer
  • because structured techniques don't work
  • because information engineering doesn't work
  • because C++ is a better C.

He went on to do a good job of discussing the complications of managing large-scale OO development projects.

The Lead Rat–Gene Wang?

The other keynote I was very interested in hearing was Gene Wang, Symantec's new software development executive (you know, the one who is being sued by Borland for alleged theft of trade secrets). Since this guy has stirred up so much controversy, I expected him to be a very interesting speaker. Unfortunately, it was more like the kind of high-level overview that a software company presents to a marginally technical Wall Street crowd (in all fairness, there were lots of slightly entertaining animated graphics that the financial analysts would probably not see). Let me summarize his slides: there are serious problems with software development tools; Symantec is on top of things and is creating the coolest tools imaginable; C++ will win the language wars; Symantec will win the C++ wars. The Tools USA crowd bought this stuff about as well as a MADACON crowd would.

Gene did talk about Bedrock, but he said nothing that hasn't been said before. He called it a "research project" that had been going on for years. That's scary–it implies that there may not be a commitment to a real commercial-level product (maybe I'm reading between the lines too much). He also mentioned that Symantec will be coming out with a new C++ compiler this summer, while flashing a slide of some Windows' windows on the screen (how's that for a subtle nonproduct announcement). He didn't mention the current crop of problems with the new C++ products that make it impossible to use MacApp (or the Booch Components, or QuickApp, or ...) with Symantec C++ for the Mac. Being an out-of-town visitor, I didn't ask).

Here are a few highlights from the question and answer portion of Gene's session:

  • with the new safety mechanisms in C++ (he didn't say which ones) and new tools designed to help detect memory leaks (again, no details), automatic garbage collection is not really an essential language feature any more;
  • regarding exception handling in the new Symantec Macintosh compilers–they're working on it;
  • regarding Dylan–C++ is an excellent language that will eventually migrate to PDAs, Newtons, and all other types of machines out of sheer momentum;
  • the unique strengths of OO languages like Smalltalk, Eiffel, and Lisp/CLOS will eventually migrate to C++, making it the clear winner; the other languages will never be more than niche curiosities.

For a crowd that was looking for bad things to say about C++, Gene didn't make too many friends. Although he's might be right about the sheer momentum of C++, at least in the US, he also made me think about the people riding the lead rat at the head of the lemming pack mentioned by Roger Osborn. These are not pretty pictures (imagine what the Eiffel-philes in the crowd were imagining).

My Summer Vacation

So, that's what I did during my summer vacation. Let me summarize my findings:
  • It's good to get out of town and into the California sun at least once a year.
  • I'd rather go to Santa Barbara than Boston (I knew that before I went).
  • It's good to spend time around other object-oriented enthusiasts especially if they have different biases and don't listen to a lot of market hype.
  • Eiffel is an excellent language (I knew that ahead of time as well, I just didn't know it had so many evangelists) with some real advantages over anything else available.

I hope your summer vacation was as much fun.

 
AAPL
$524.94
Apple Inc.
+5.93
MSFT
$40.01
Microsoft Corpora
-0.39
GOOG
$536.10
Google Inc.
-20.44

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Tweetbot 1.5.1 - Popular iOS twitter cli...
Tweetbot is a full-featured OS X Twitter client with a lot of personality. Whether it's the meticulously-crafted interface, sounds and animation, or features like multiple timelines and column views... Read more
Mac DVDRipper Pro 4.1.7 - Copy, backup,...
Mac DVDRipper Pro is the DVD backup solution that lets you protect your DVDs from scratches, save your batteries by reading your movies from your hard disk, manage your collection with just a few... Read more
PDFpenPro 6.2 - Advanced PDF toolkit for...
PDFpenPro allows users to edit PDF's easily. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Create... Read more
PDFpen 6.2 - Edit and annotate PDFs with...
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more
Monolingual 1.5.9 - Remove unwanted OS X...
Monolingual is a program for removing unnecesary language resources from OS X, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space. It requires a 64-bit capable Intel-based Mac and at least... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty 1.1.1.180...
Download the patch by launching the Starcraft II game and downloading it through the Battle.net connection within the app. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is a strategy game played in real-time. You... Read more
Sibelius 7.5.0 - Music notation solution...
Sibelius is the world's best-selling music notation software for Mac. It is as intuitive to use as a pen, yet so powerful that it does most things in less than the blink of an eye. The demo includes... Read more
Typinator 5.9 - Speedy and reliable text...
Typinator turbo-charges your typing productivity. Type a little. Typinator does the rest. We've all faced projects that require repetitive typing tasks. With Typinator, you can store commonly used... Read more
MYStuff Pro 2.0.16 - Create inventories...
MYStuff Pro is the most flexible way to create detail-rich inventories for your home or small business. Add items to MYStuff by dragging and dropping existing information, uploading new images, or... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Have a Special Dead Trigger 2 Easter Bas...
Have a Special Dead Trigger 2 Easter Basket Full of Goodies, Courtesy of Madfinger Games Posted by Rob Rich on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] Dead Trigger 2 | Read more »
Zynga Launches Brand New Farmville Exper...
Zynga Launches Brand New Farmville Experience with Farmville 2: Country Escape Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
David. Review
David. Review By Cata Modorcea on April 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MINIMALISTIC IN A DIFFERENT WAYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad David is a minimalistic game wrapped inside of a soothing atmosphere in which the hero... | Read more »
Eyefi Unveils New Eyefi Cloud Service Th...
Eyefi Unveils New Eyefi Cloud Service That Allows Users to Share Media Across Personal Devices Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Lair...
Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Lair Review By Jennifer Allen on April 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: STEADY ADVENTURINGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Treading a safe path, Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Lair is a... | Read more »
Yahoo Updates Flickr App with Advanced E...
Yahoo Updates Flickr App with Advanced Editing Features and More Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
My Incredible Body - A Kid's App to...
My Incredible Body - A Kid's App to Learn about the Human Body 1.1.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.1.00 (iTunes) Description: Wouldn’t it be cool to look inside yourself and see what was going on... | Read more »
Trials Frontier Review
Trials Frontier Review By Carter Dotson on April 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: A ROUGH LANDINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Trials Frontier finally brings the famed stunt racing franchise to mobile, but how much does its... | Read more »
Evernote Business Notebook by Moleskin I...
Evernote Business Notebook by Moleskin Introduced – Support Available in Evernote for iOS Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Sparkle Unleashed Review
Sparkle Unleashed Review By Jennifer Allen on April 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CLASSY MARBLE FLINGINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad It’s a concept we’ve seen before, but Sparkle Unleashed is a solidly enjoyable orb... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

iMacs on sale for up to $160 off MSRP this we...
Best Buy has iMacs on sale for up to $160 off MSRP for a limited time. Choose free home shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Prices are valid for online orders only, in-store... Read more
iPad Airs on sale this weekend for up to $100...
Best Buy has WiFi iPad Airs on sale for $50 off MSRP and WiFi + Cellular iPad Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time, with prices now starting at $449. Choose free... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis starting...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished Mac minis for up to $150 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 2.5GHz Mac... Read more
Hyundai Brings Apple CarPlay To The 2015 Sona...
Hyundai Motor America has announced it will bring Apple CarPlay functionality to the 2015 Sonata. CarPlay is pitched as a smarter, safer and easier way to use iPhone in the car and gives iPhone users... Read more
Updated iPads Coming Sooner Than We Had Thoug...
MacRumors, cites KGI securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, well-respected as an Apple product prognisticator, saying that Apple will introduce an upgraded iPad Air and iPad mini in 2014/Q3, meaning the... Read more
Toshiba Unveils New High And Low End Laptop M...
Toshiba has announced new laptop models covering both the high-end and low-end of the notebook computer spectrum. Toshiba 4K Ultra HD Laptop Toshiba’s new Satellite P55t features one of the world’s... Read more
Save up to $270 with Apple refurbished 13-inc...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished October 2013 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available starting at $1099, with models up to $270 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished iPad mini with...
The Apple Store has Certified Refurbished 2nd generation iPad minis with Retina Displays now available starting at $339. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free.... Read more
Microsoft Blinks – Drops Microsoft Office 365...
Microsoft has dropped the annual subscription fee for Microsoft Office 365 Personal – which is needed in order to create and edit documents in Microsoft Office for iPad. However, Apple’s iOS and OS X... Read more
New AVG Vault Apps for iOS and Android Help K...
AVG Technologies N.V. an online security company for 177 million active users, has announced the launch of its latest mobile application, AVG Vault. The free app introduces an innovative user... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Automotive Parts Department position...
Apple Automotive is one of the fastest growing dealer…and it shows. Consider making the switch to the Apple Automotive Group today! At Apple Automotive, we Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Retail - Manager - Holyoke - Apple I...
Job Summary Keeping an Apple Store thriving requires a diverse set of leadership skills, and as a Manager, you’re a master of them all. In the store’s fast-paced, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Manager - Apple (United Sta...
Job SummaryKeeping an Apple Store thriving requires a diverse set of leadership skills, and as a Manager, you're a master of them all. In the store's fast-paced, dynamic Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.