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Sun 29 Feb 2004
If we build it, nine of them will (probably) come
Category : Commentary/9willcome.txt
We've got nine people each for the Java on Mac OS X course on Tuesday & Wednesday, and the AppleScript Studio course on Thursday & Friday.
The course material's ready. Or just about. We've been so busy preparing the notes and tutorials that I've had little time to think about how I'm going to go about delivering it.
But without my friend Hai Hwee's help, I wouldn't even have made it here. The Java on Mac OS X tutorials, as we build it up, will contain a lot of original solutions she discovered as we went about building our Accounting application (called Luca) on Java and Cocoa. There may be the basis of a book in there, somewhere.
It's not easy to find Cocoa on Java material anywhere out there. I grabbed hold of the Big Nerd Ranch book on Cocoa programming because it, at least, had a section on using Java. But when I went home and read it, it said something like, "Doing Cocoa programming using Java? Don't." So much for that and not much help elsewhere, too.
But I'm more convinced than ever that, from the point of view of enterprise computing - i.e. building systems for use by businesses - Java on OS X, including building stuff on Cocoa, has got a tremendous potential. What I am seeing is the power to express and deliver solutions that can address all the fronts that a business is likely to face - on the web, in the back office, in retail point-of-sale terminals, and on hand-held palm-sized computing devices.
What I am trying to communicate, through the courses, and wherever I can, is the concept of code reusability. Say, from the point of view of an insurance system, 80% of the code deals with modelling the business processes - e.g., creating an insurance policy object, then teaching it all about computing premiums and the various levels of taxes and commissions, and then making subclasses of it for motor policies and marines policies, and underneath these we have subclasses for private cars and commercial vehicles, ocean tankers and pleasure crafts, etc.
The idea is all about containing complexity, and once you have done that, reusing the core of the code for supporting the e-commerce applications, client-server applications at the back-office, and for building web services for interfacing with other companies' systems and the regulatory agencies.
So, Java on OS X allows me to think like a corporate IT guy (or at least how they are supposed to think, rather just spouting Microsoft-centric geek-speak), and yet use the best computing platform there is to give form to the ideas.
There's a strong, and very troubling disconnect in the IT world. Or at least, as I've felt it. Why is so much of the corporate IT computing experience so much like being in a totalitarian world? It's like the Chinese movies about olden times. When they mention the emperor, even in passing, they cup their hands in salute and do their obeisance, even where the emperor is nowhere to be found. Life with IT should be lived with so much more joy and verve. And we shouldn't have to live among the Mac (lunatic) fringe to find it.