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

Bookends 12.7.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
VirtualBox 5.1.14 - x86 virtualization s...
VirtualBox is a family of powerful x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers... Read more
FileZilla 3.24.0 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.24.0: New The context menu for remote file search... Read more
BusyContacts 1.1.6 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
BusyCal 3.1.4 - Powerful calendar app wi...
BusyCal is an award-winning desktop calendar that combines personal productivity features for individuals with powerful calendar sharing capabilities for families and workgroups. Its unique features... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.8.3 - Find and d...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator detects... Read more
MarsEdit 3.7.10 - Quick and convenient b...
MarsEdit is a blog editor for OS X that makes editing your blog like writing email, with spell-checking, drafts, multiple windows, and even AppleScript support. It works with with most blog services... Read more
WALTR 2 2.0.9 - $39.95
WALTR 2 helps you wirelessly drag-and-drop any music, ringtones, videos, PDF, and ePub files onto your iPhone, iPad, or iPod without iTunes. It is the second major version of Softorino's critically-... Read more
Paperless 2.3.9 - $49.95
Paperless is a digital documents manager. Remember when everyone talked about how we would soon be a paperless society? Now it seems like we use paper more than ever. Let's face it - we need and we... Read more
Adobe After Effects CC 2017 14.1 - Creat...
After Effects CC 2017 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous After Effects customer). The new, more connected After Effects CC... Read more

Super Mario Run dashes onto Android in M...
Super Mario Run was one of the biggest mobile launches in 2016 before it was met with a lukewarm response by many. While the game itself plays a treat, it's pretty hard to swallow the steep price for the full game. With that said, Android users... | Read more »
WarFriends Beginner's Guide: How to...
Chillingo's new game, WarFriends, is finally available world wide, and so far it's a refreshing change from common mobile game trends. The game's a mix of tower defense, third person shooter, and collectible card game. There's a lot to unpack here... | Read more »
Super Gridland (Entertainment)
Super Gridland 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Entertainment Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Match. Build. Survive. "exquisitely tuned" - Rock Paper Shotgun No in-app purches, and no ads! | Read more »
Red's Kingdom (Games)
Red's Kingdom 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Mad King Mac has kidnapped your father and stolen your golden nut! Solve puzzles and battle goons as you explore and battle your... | Read more »
Turbo League Guide: How to tame the cont...
| Read more »
Fire Emblem: Heroes coming to Google Pla...
Nintendo gave us our first look at Fire Emblem: Heroes, the upcoming mobile Fire Emblem game the company hinted at last year. Revealed at the Fire Emblem Direct event held today, the game will condense the series' tactical RPG combat into bite-... | Read more »
ReSlice (Music)
ReSlice 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Audio Slice Machine Slice your audio samples with ReSlice and create flexible musical atoms which can be triggered by MIDI notes or... | Read more »
Stickman Surfer rides in with the tide t...
Stickson is back and this time he's taken up yet another extreme sport - surfing. Stickman Surfer is out this Thursday on both iOS and Android, so if you've been following the other Stickman adventures, you might be interested in picking this one... | Read more »
Z-Exemplar (Games)
Z-Exemplar 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
5 dastardly difficult roguelikes like th...
Edmund McMillen's popular roguelike creation The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has finally crawled onto mobile devices. It's a grotesque dual-stick shooter that tosses you into an endless, procedurally generated basement as you, the pitiable Isaac,... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Twelve South Releases RelaxedLeather Cases fo...
Inspired by the laid-back luxury of burnished leather boots and crafted in rich tones of taupe, herb and marsala, RelaxedLeather cases deliver smart, easy protection for the iPhone 7. Each genuine... Read more
Week’s Best Deal: New 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz Mac...
Amazon has the new 2016 13″ 2.0GHz non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for a limited time for $225 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro, Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1274.99 $225 off... Read more
Back in stock: Apple refurbished Mac minis fr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Apple Ranked ‘Most Intimate Brand’
The top ranked ‘”intimate” brands continued to outperform the S&P and Fortune 500 indices in revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2017 Report, the largest... Read more
B-Eng introduces SSD Health Check for Mac OS
Fehraltorf, Switzerland based independant Swiss company- B-Eng has announced the release and immediate availability of SSD Health Check 1.0, the company’s new hard drive utility for Mac OS X. As the... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store 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
4-core 3.7GHz Mac Pro on sale for $2290, save...
Guitar Center has the 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro (MD253LL/A) on sale for $2289.97 including free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Their price is a $710 savings over standard MSRP for... Read more
128GB Apple iPad Air 2, refurbished, availabl...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 128GB iPad Air 2s WiFis available for $419 including free shipping. That’s an $80 savings over standard MSRP for this model. A standard Apple one-year warranty is... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina Apple MacBook Pro on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro (MF839LL/A): $... Read more
Laptop Market – Flight To Quality? – The ‘Boo...
Preliminary quarterly PC shipments data released by Gartner Inc. last week reveal an interesting disparity between sales performance of major name PC vendors as opposed to that of less well-known... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* MAC Infrastructure Engineer - InnoCo...
Summary: Responsible for all aspects of Apple Desktop hardware. This includes research, design, test, and deploy technologies being researched by the desktop Read more
*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Manhattan, NY Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most Read more
Senior Workstation Administrator - *Apple*...
…with extraordinary HR. QualificationsJOB SUMMARY/OVERVIEWThe Senior Workstation Administrator - Apple supports the mission of TriNet by providing advanced level Read more
Intermediate *Apple* macOS Systems Integrat...
**Position Summary:** SC3 is actively seeking an Intermediate Apple macOS systems integration administrator that will be responsible for providing Apple Mac Read more
*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Los Angeles, CA Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.