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JavaOne a drag … and drop

Much of the buzz on the floor centered around what new studio tools would mean for the development community.

SAN FRANCISCO -- To hear it from developers, last week's JavaOne conference found itself mired in the moving pictures business.

Mind you, they weren't complaining, but developers found themselves attending demonstration after demonstration on how the latest service-oriented architecture tools would enable them to build SOA-friendly applications.

The business is changing. In a lot of ways we're going to end up being integrators rather than developers.
Jeffrey Souza
Software DeveloperGeneral Dynamics

"Everything is going that way," said Jeffrey Souza, a software developer with General Dynamics, Falls Church, Va. "It's all just dragging around pictures."

Some, like Suzanne Byington, a developer with Dentrix Dental Systems Inc. in Salt Lake City, welcomed the graphical onslaught.

"You can do it much easier without so many steps," she said.

In particular, Byington liked the idea of moving complexities such as business logic off to another layer of abstraction that could be linked using GUI tools in a developer studio or added via a quick annotation.

However, Ted Poovey, a software engineer with U.S. Central Credit Union, a wholesale corporate credit union based in Lenexa, Kansas, made a case for code work.

"I enjoy coding," he said. "I don't just want to draw lines between documents."

He said he believes the studio tools will have a use, but only to the extent that they can take care of processes and controls.

"It's fine if I can tell it to go do this busy work and then I go do my thing," Poovey said. "Then I can develop an aspect or a product and tie it in quickly. That's a useful time saver. You don't necessarily want to learn a new set of syntaxes when you've already got five or six running around in your head."

Souza noted that his job increasingly centered around integration work, finding whether something has already been built and then writing some "gluecode" to tie it into a new service.

"The business is changing," he said. "In a lot of ways we're going to end up being integrators rather than developers."

Joe Cole, who works in technical operations at, noted that even a relatively young company like the one he's at finds itself preparing for future reuse.

"We're trying to be more standards based so we don't have to change so many things down the road," he said, adding that he came to the conference hoping to learn more about the Business Process Execution Language Web services standard to help him achieve that goal. "With all these architectural changes out there, we're worried about what this means for us."

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Will better business process management tools replace programmer skills?

Poovey said the reuse push is more realistic than the late '90s notion that applications would have 10-year shelf lives and then get replaced. He noted that the financial industry runs on many applications that have been in place since the '60s.

"There's no reason to redesign some of those things," he said. "They work and the business is built around them."

In particular, Poovey was hoping the new Java Business Integration standard would help strengthen the link between those legacy transaction systems and new rich content applications.

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