To follow Brian’s wonderful post which explores the benefits of componentization, I’ll go to the other extreme and introduce everyone to a recent System i initiative called the System i Verticle Industry Program (VIP). The program stems from IBM’s success in the $50 billion hospitality and casino industry by working together with ISVs and BPs to put together a specialized “all-in-one business computing platform” on System i where it is now used by over 70% of the related establishments in the US. “In addition to the hospitality and casino industry, IBM plans to launch more than 80 VIPs for System i in 15 countries this year…”.
It always amazes me as to how much the WDSC team accomplishes and delivers, given the fact that the team consists only of about fifty people. As a group, we have to be sufficiently staffed to fulfill the ongoing needs of our loyal customers and to provide them with a future road map that enables them to be more successful in order to sustain and advance their livelihood. All this has to be accomplished in an environment of continuous technological advancement which over the decades has given us a multitude of technologies that we have chosen to embrace.
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A residency for updating the WDSC redbook from 5.1.2 to 7.0 has been announced and will be accepting applications very soon. The System i related residencies are normally held in Rochester, but since we (the WDSC team) are here in Toronto, they are holding this residency at the IBM Toronto Lab. It runs from June 4th to July 6th 2007 (yes that’s in 2 months!)
There is a lot of stuff to update from 5.1.2 to 7.0 (moving from Eclipse 2.x to 3.2, RSE, WebFacing, Web Services, Web Development, and Java Development changes and new features). This is a great opportunity to learn WDSC inside out and really get to know us.
The April 2007 issue of System i News has lots of content on WDSC. Some of it is ProVIP content (paid membership) but you can read my article on What’s New in WDSc for iSeries V7.0 with an associate membership which is free (apparently my article is not worth paying for :)
It is quite often to hear customers complain how complicated it is to use a specific feature or a product in general. I think many factors contribute to this, like:
a). The inherited technical complexity
This happens when problems to be resolved are very complicated. It is not always easy to find a simple and elegant solution. However, how to use a feature and how to implement it are different issues. A complicated implementation can be simple to use if unnecessary complexity is hidden from customers. For example, use intuitive user interface or add intermediate layers to do things underneath etc.
b). Primary use cases not clear
The user cases basically describe how customers interact with the feature. What are the primary user cases ? Who are the target users? Without clearly defined user cases in place, developer may lost focus and put more effort on advanced functions and introduce extra complexity for all customers.
c). ‘Simple’ may have different meaning for different customers
Customers are different with their skills level and background. A simple solution for some customers maybe a complicated one for other. Early UCD evaluation and customer feedback will help to justify and revisit the design.
d). Outside dependencies
Component and Product level dependency may cause significant complexity in installation, setup and integration if the interfaces are not well defined.
“Can you make it simple?” — a good question for myself and it always deserves a good answer.
Well, this is my first post. No picture. No video. Click “Publish” in wordpress dashboard and it goes to Web right away.
Simple enough :)
When I want to learn a new product or a new feature, I normally start with tutorials and samples. If the product is brand new, the training videos works best for me. In WDSC, there are “Watch and Learn” tutorials viewed like a movie. We could learn at our own pace. In our blog education meeting, I heard Claus mentioned there is a person made WDSC 7.0 QuickTips training videos. After the meeting, I checked the web site http://www.i5podcast.com/ to take a look the training video. It is made by the program called Camstasia Studio. I went to download the trial version of the program and played a little bit. It is really basic compared with Adobe Premiere but it could get job done very quickly. It could record the screen and PowerPoint and could produce various formats of video i.e. flash, wmv, mov, avi, rm and iPod. I decided to give a try and created the training video: Build a Web service from a RPG program using WDSC. I split the training video into three parts. I chose the wmv format instead of flash format because the wmv format saved three times of file size. I uploaded it to youTube but youTube automatically reduced the video size to the half of the original video size. The minimal video size is 640*480 pixels to be watchable. I ended up to put them on my home server. Here are the links:
I personally think it is really helpful for customers if we could ship a training video CD for each point release. Of course we have to build better flash GUI like training products produced by lynda.com.
Hi everyone, this is Hania from the WebFacing team typing. With my first entry, I’d also like to welcome everyone to our almost-new blog. Like Don, I’ve long followed several blogs, but hesitated from having one of my own mostly because of the need to post frequently. With this team effort, that
excuse concern has been addressed, so in I dive :)
About me: I joined the WebFacing team slightly over 2 years ago. Some of my—not necessarily relevant—interests are (web|industrial|software|graphic) design, human-computer interaction, visual arts, technology, astronomy, and science in general.
My plan for now is to start with a few WebFacing how-to’s along with some slightly more general thoughts, then see how things go from there. Let me know if there are any particular how-to’s you’d like to see here.
As a part of the process for helping our customers to keep up with technologies involves determining which new user interface devices customer applications are able to target. As with any other business, the decisions and resulting offerings imply a long term commitment for both the supplier, and the consumer. As such, an important issue always arises. Should older user interface paradigms that are missing, or have alternatives in the newer user interface paradigm be added to the newer technology, or should they be left behind in the name of progress?
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Given the componentization of software, and the increasingly complex environments in which it runs, the question of “works vs supported” becomes a tricky one.
For example, WDSC is composed from several pieces (Eclipse, Rational tools, WebSphere tools, Apache software, System i tools, IBM JRE) and runs on various versions of Windows operating systems and connects to various releases of i5/OS. Throw in the memory, OS security settings, and unrelated (but intertwined) software like PC firewalls and virus scanners and you get a pretty big testing matrix.
Defining “officially supported” configurations for software like this gets tricky because you need to consider what all the individual pieces support and then reason whether or not combining the pieces could cause problems. Usually this last one is a moot point because the technologies (Java, OSGi, XML) used are designed to make this seamless, but it does periodically happen.
Beyond officially supported there is the “it works but not supported” area. Often this is because either a) one of the underlying components doesn’t support it or b) there is just not enough resources to test all configurations and there was reasonable doubt that this configuration might not work (or even more important if it didn’t work it might not be possible to service it).
Some users are okay with (even want) functions released as “works but not supported” if the alternative was to not release them at all. The flip side of this is that if those functions are included and they don’t work in some scenarios the product can get a bad rap for quality.
The best solution is to continue to work on the componentization and integration technologies so these scenarios become fewer and fewer. [Edit: after posting this I realized it's just as important that the the components and their interfaces be improved as the componentization and integration technologies.]
No this is not spam. :)
IBM is inviting college and university students across US and Canada to participate in the IBM System i Innovation Challenge as part of the IBM Academic Initiative – System i Program . Prizes will be awarded for most innovative System i applications.
I’m quite interested in seeing the results from this contest. I’ll keep you posted.
For those interested students out there, I believe there still is some time to compete though the contest has begun, but time is quickly running out. Best to check the website for details.