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
$111.78
Apple Inc.
-0.87
MSFT
$47.66
Microsoft Corpora
+0.14
GOOG
$516.35
Google Inc.
+5.25

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

NeoOffice 2014.6 - Mac-tailored, OpenOff...
NeoOffice is a complete office suite for OS X. With NeoOffice, users can view, edit, and save OpenOffice documents, PDF files, and most Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. NeoOffice 3.x... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.5.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
CleanApp 5.0.0 Beta 5 - Application dein...
CleanApp is an application deinstaller and archiver.... Your hard drive gets fuller day by day, but do you know why? CleanApp 5 provides you with insights how to reclaim disk space. There are... Read more
Monolingual 1.6.2 - 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
NetShade 6.1 - Browse privately using an...
NetShade is an Internet security tool that conceals your IP address on the web. NetShade routes your Web connection through either a public anonymous proxy server, or one of NetShade's own dedicated... Read more
calibre 2.13 - Complete e-library manage...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Mellel 3.3.7 - Powerful word processor w...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical writing and multilingual... Read more
ScreenFlow 5.0.1 - Create screen recordi...
Save 10% with the exclusive MacUpdate coupon code: AFMacUpdate10 Buy now! ScreenFlow is powerful, easy-to-use screencasting software for the Mac. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your... Read more
Simon 4.0 - Monitor changes and crashes...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
BBEdit 11.0.2 - Powerful text and HTML e...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Galaxy Trucker Pocket (Games)
Galaxy Trucker Pocket 1.0.8 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.8 (iTunes) Description: Galaxy Truckers Wanted!================================================================= (5/5) "Galaxy Trucker isn’t... | Read more »
Make your own Tribez Figures (and More)...
Make your own Tribez Figures (and More) with Toyze Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
So Many Holiday iOS Sales Oh My Goodness...
The holiday season is in full-swing, which means a whole lot of iOS apps and games are going on sale. A bunch already have, in fact. Naturally this means we’re putting together a hand-picked list of the best discounts and sales we can find in order... | Read more »
It’s Bird vs. Bird in the New PvP Mode f...
It’s Bird vs. Bird in the New PvP Mode for Angry Birds Epic Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Telltale Games and Mojang Announce Minec...
Telltale Games and Mojang Announce Minecraft: Story Mode – A Telltale Games Series Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
WarChest and Splash Damage Annouce Their...
WarChest and Splash Damage Annouce Their New Game: Tempo Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] WarChest Ltd and Splash Damage Ltd are teaming up again to work | Read more »
BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary...
BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary with a Bunch of Free Games Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] BulkyPix has | Read more »
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking F...
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking Fever’s new sushi-themed update Posted by Simon Reed on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Lithuanian developer Nordcurrent has yet again updated its restaurant simulat | Read more »
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to C...
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to Celebrate 20 Million Downloads Posted by Ellis Spice on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Desti...
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Destiny, and Beyond – AppSpy Takes a Look at AAA Companion Apps Posted by Rob Rich on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] These day | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Holiday sale: 13-inch 128GB MacBook Air for $...
 Best Buy has the 2014 13-inch 1.4GHz 128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849.99, or $150 off MSRP, on their online store. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price valid... Read more
13-inch 2.6GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Best Buy has lowered their price on the 2014 13″ 2.6GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro to $1149.99 on their online store for a limited time. That’s $150 off MSRP and the lowest price available for this... Read more
Kodak Returns to CES With New Consumer Produ...
Former photography colossus Kodak is returning to CES for the first time in three years where the Kodak booth (#21818 South Hall 1) will showcase a wide range of innovative, imaging-related products... Read more
Invaluable Launches New Eponymously -Named A...
Invaluable, the world’s largest online live auction marketplace, hhas announced the official launch of the Invaluable app for iPad, now available for download in the iTunes App Store. Invaluable... Read more
IDC Reveals Worldwide Mobile Enterprise Appli...
International Data Corporation (IDC) last week hosted the IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Mobile Enterprise Applications and Solutions 2015 Predictions Web conference. The session provided organizations... Read more
Hello Vino Wine App Launches “Safe Ride Home”...
Hello Vino has announced addition of a new “Get a Safe Ride Home” feature in its Food & Drink app with a direct connection to Uber, the technology platform that connects users with rides. The... Read more
DEVON-technologies Releases DEVONthink To Go...
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho based DEVON-technologies, LLC has updated DEVONthink To Go, its mobile companion to DEVONthink, to version 1.5. The update includes an iOS 8 extension, compatibility with the... Read more
The Apple Store offering free next-day shippi...
The Apple Store is now offering free next-day shipping on all in stock items if ordered before 12/23/14 at 10:00am PT. Local store pickup is also available within an hour of ordering for any in stock... Read more
It’s 1992 Again At Sony Pictures, Except For...
Techcrunch’s John Biggs interviewed a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) employee, who quite understandably wished to remain anonymous, regarding post-hack conditions in SPE’s L.A office, explaining “... Read more
OtterBox Defender Series Case For iPad mini 3...
With their innovative Touch ID technology and ultrathin profile, the latest tranche of Apple iPads are more desirable than ever, and OtterBox has just announced the Defender Series custom-engineered... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Store Leader Program (US) - Apple, I...
…Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll master our retail business inside and out through training, hands-on experience, Read more
Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and 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* 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* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.