Monday, April 4, 2011

World domination

It's nearing that time of year again... The transactions team are packing their bags and preparing to spend a couple of days holed up in a top secret underground lair, plotting the next steps towards world domination.

I normally spend a few days beforehand checking up on the state of the world, particularly new developments in transactions, the list of open issues in our bug tracker, the last few month's worth of support cases and other such sources of interesting information. I'm starting to think the reason that no Evil Genius has succeeded in taking over the world yet has very little to do with being repeatedly thwarted by James Bond and an awful lot to do with the sheer volume of paperwork involved. Perhaps if they spent less on underground lairs and more on secretarial support...

Anyhow, as per usual we have way too many ideas on the list, so some prioritization is in order. One of the key factors is the number of users a given chunk of work may benefit. Improvements to the crash recovery system benefit pretty much everyone. I'd like to say the same about documentation, but it's apparent only a tiny proportion of users actually read it. Somewhere in between lie improvements to optional modules or functionality that only some users take advantage of. The tricky part is gauging how many there are.

Users occasionally get in touch and tell us how they are using the code. Unfortunately this usually happens only when they need help. The rest of the time we mostly just make educated guesses about the use cases. I was mulling over this problem today when a tweet caught my eye:

"Today's royalty check for "Advanced CORBA Programming": $24.51. Last year each check was ~$400. I guess CORBA is officially dead now :-)" - Steve Vinoski

This got me thinking about the future of JTS. In Java EE environments, JTS exists pretty much only to allow transactional calls between EJBs using IIOP. Now that we have @WebService on EJBs, how much traffic still uses IIOP anyhow? What are the odds of RMI/IIOP (and hence JTS) being deprecated out of Java EE in the next revision or two? How much time should we be sinking into improvements of JTS vs. web services transactions?

That's just one of many topics on the agenda for our team meeting. I suppose we could also debate the relative merits of man-portable freeze rays vs. orbital laser cannons, but I don't think the corporate health and safety folks will let us have either. Spoilsports. Guess we'll just have to continue progressing towards world domination the hard way.

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