Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Colorado Software Summit, Wednesday

Noel Bergman explained JNDI and LDAP. He's clearly one of the techies
who is fascinated by the technology in itself, because he showed things
that you could do with the technology. I began pestering him for a
motivation. Not that I think it's useless -- it seems to be a very
clever and well-thought-out solution. But when you look at a design
pattern, which this smacks of, the first thing you find out is the
intent and motivation, so you know where you want to apply this pattern
and what kind of problem it solves.

JNDI appears to be a central repository of information structured in a
hierarchy. As far as I can tell, it can be any kind of information
including serialized objects, but there are formalisms for more common
types of information. Apparently LDAP servers are typically designed
for reading more than writing, so they aren't intended to be the
equivalent of databases.

JNDI/LDAP seems to cut across languages and platforms. In addition,
LDAP servers apparently scale and distribute transparently. All
attractive features. Noel said he was changing a configuration system
that used XML so that it used JNDI/LDAP instead. This sounded like it
could be a good idea, but I couldn't get a clear answer of what his
motivation was to make the change.

So it sounds like a very interesting and useful technology, but I'd
like to know more about the design motivations for using it.

Gary Ashley talked about various open source issues and ways to use it.
To help make his point, he had put Linux on his laptop, and had not
been able to get the mouse working. I love the whole idea of Linux and
open source, but there always seems to be a cost, for example herculean
efforts to get some aspect of the software working. Or difficult and
confusing configuration in general, which seems to be a legacy of Unix,
where you are encouraged to create little languages for everything. Not
everyone knows how to create easy-to-use little languages.

I have to say, Linux has the best screensavers, and it seems to have
continuing evolution in screensaver technology. Windows screensaver
development stalled long ago as far as I can tell.

Jasper Report Builder is apparently an open source way of building
reports. These can for example be output in PDF. There is a plugin for
Eclipse so that you can do drag and drop form building. Might come in
handy.