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.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Box Sync 4.0.6567 - Online synchronizati...
Box Sync gives you a hard-drive in the Cloud for online storage. Note: You must first sign up to use Box. What if the files you need are on your laptop -- but you're on the road with your iPhone? No... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 4.1.4 - Easy-to-use b...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more
OmniGraffle Pro 6.3.1 - Create diagrams,...
OmniGraffle Pro helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use... Read more
Monosnap 3.1.2 - Versatile screenshot ut...
Monosnap lets you capture screenshots, share files, and record video and .gifs! Capture: Capture full screen, just part of the screen, or a selected window Make your crop area pixel perfect with... Read more
Alfred 2.7.2 - Quick launcher for apps a...
Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for OS X. Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords, and file actions at... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.19 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
OmniGraffle 6.3 - Create diagrams, flow...
OmniGraffle helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use Graffle to... Read more
PDFKey Pro 4.3.2 - Edit and print passwo...
PDFKey Pro can unlock PDF documents protected for printing and copying when you've forgotten your password. It can now also protect your PDF files with a password to prevent unauthorized access and/... Read more
Ableton Live 9.2.2 - Record music using...
Ableton Live lets you create and record music on your Mac. Use digital instruments, pre-recorded sounds, and sampled loops to arrange, produce, and perform your music like never before. Ableton Live... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.3.1.0 - Monitor and c...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more

This Week at 148Apps: August 24-28, 2015
The Apps of August With 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out... | Read more »
NASCAR in Real Racing 3? Sure, Why Not?
I have to give Firemonkeys credit - it's very cool of them to add NASCAR to Real Racing 3 via an update rather than making a separate game for it. But that's a different discussion for another time; for now let's sit back and enjoy driving in... | Read more »
The nuyu is an Inexpensive Activity Moni...
Today, Health o Meter nuyu has announced a series of health and fitness-related products, including the aforementioned activity monitor along with a wireless scale. All at a decent pricepoint, no less. [Read more] | Read more »
The Makers of Overkill are Trying Someth...
Craneballs, the studio responsible for the Overkill series, is taking a little break from all that violence (a little break) to bring us Cube Worm - a 3D take on one of the most classic PC/calculator games in existence. [Read more] | Read more »
The Sandbox Welcomes Cutethulu in its La...
Another month, another update to Pixowl's The Sandbox. This time players can say hello to "Cutethulu" - an adorable little rendition of perhaps the most well known (and infamous) of the Elder Gods. [Read more] | Read more »
ReBoard: Revolutionary Keyboard (Utilit...
ReBoard: Revolutionary Keyboard 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Do everything within the keyboard without switching apps! If you are in WhatsApp, how do you schedule a... | Read more »
Tiny Empire (Games)
Tiny Empire 1.1.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.1.3 (iTunes) Description: Launch cannonballs and blow tiny orcs into thousands of pieces in this intuitive fantasy-themed puzzle shooter! Embark on an... | Read more »
Astropad Mini (Productivity)
Astropad Mini 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: *** 50% off introductory price! ​*** Get the high-end experience of a Wacom tablet at a fraction of the price with Astropad... | Read more »
Emo Chorus (Music)
Emo Chorus 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Realistic Choir simulator ranging from simple Chorus emulation to full ensemble Choir with 128 members. ### introductory offer... | Read more »
Forest Spirit (Games)
Forest Spirit 1.0.5 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.5 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

WaterField Designs Unveils American-Made, All...
San Francisco’s WaterField Designs today unveiled their all-leather Cozmo 2.0 — an elegant attach laptop bag with carefully-designed features to suit any business environment. The Cozmo 2.0 is... Read more
Apple’s 2015 Back to School promotion: Free B...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
128GB MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP,...
B&H Photo has 11″ & 13″ MacBook Airs with 128GB SSDs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air: $799.99, $100 off MSRP... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (refurbished) avai...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $829, or $270 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.... Read more
27-inch 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1679, save $...
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1679.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $120 off MSRP. Read more
Apple and Cisco Partner to Deliver Fast-Lane...
Apple and Cisco have announced a partnership to create a “fast lane” for iOS business users by optimizing Cisco networks for iOS devices and apps. The alliance integrates iPhone with Cisco enterprise... Read more
Apple offering refurbished 2015 13-inch Retin...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $270 (15%) off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple refurbished 2015 MacBook Airs available...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2015 11″ and 13″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with... Read more
21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 1.4GHz iMac: $999.99 $100 off - 21″ 2.7GHz iMac: $1199.99 $100 off - 21″ 2.9GHz iMac... Read more
5K iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP, fre...
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1899.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. They have the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2149.99 $2199.99, $... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Desktop Analyst - KDS Staffing (Unit...
…field and consistent professional recruiting achievement. Job Description: Title: Apple Desktop AnalystPosition Type: Full-time PermanentLocation: White Plains, NYHot Read more
Simply Mac- *Apple* Specialist- Store Manag...
Simply Mac is the largest premier retailer for Apple products and solutions. We're looking for dedicated individuals with a passion to simplify and enhance the Read more
*Apple* Evangelist - JAMF Software (United S...
The Apple Evangelist is responsible for building and cultivating strategic relationships with Apple 's small and mid-market business development field teams. This Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Desktop Analyst - KDS Staffing (Unit...
…field and consistent professional recruiting achievement. Job Description: Title: Apple Desktop AnalystPosition Type: Full-time PermanentLocation: White Plains, NYHot Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.