Stories by Jon Udell

  • GitHub for the rest of us

    There's a reason why software developers live at the leading edges of an unevenly distributed future: Their work products have always been digital artifacts, and since the dawn of networks, their work processes have been connected.

  • TypeScript: Industrial-strength JavaScript

    Historians who reflect on JavaScript's emergence as a dominant programming language in the 21st century may find themselves quoting Donald Rumsfeld: "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might wish to have."

  • The carbon-adjusted supply chain

    At the Emerging Technologies Conference at MIT in September, CEO Jeff Bezos gave a keynote talk on the slew of new and innovative Web services his company has recently launched. His discussion of MTurk, S3, and EC2 held no surprises for me, or for readers of this column and of my blog. But one of the questions posed by an attendee, in the Q&A period following Bezos' talk, was a stunner.

  • Detecting threats in the real world

    Security pros know there's no perfect defence against a determined attacker. So when an identity thief strikes, it's vital to detect the theft. But who's going to be the detective?

  • Why data synchronisation still matters

    The physics of data management used to dictate that your data could be either consistent or highly available but never both at the same time. The discipline of data synchronisation sits uncomfortably on the horns of this Heisenbergian dilemma. As times change, though, so do the trade-offs associated with synchronization and its uses.

  • STRATEGIC DEVELOPER: Email's many hats

    Email is the jack of all trades, but the master of none. There are better ways to transfer files, hold discussions, deliver notifications, broadcast newsletters, schedule meetings, work collaboratively and manage personal information. But even though email isn’t the best tool for any of these tasks, it provides a single interface to all of them. Here’s a challenge: Let’s improve the various functions performed by email without multiplying the interfaces people must learn in order to use those functions.

  • Macromedia brings Flash to the enterprise

    After a decade of Web-style development, I’m sold on the idea of using markup languages to describe the layouts of user interfaces and to coordinate the event-driven code that interconnects widgets and binds them to data.

  • Microsoft .Net report card

    Determining exactly what .Net is may be the hardest part of measuring its success. The confusion goes way back to June 2000, when Bill Gates framed the .Net initiative in consumerish terms as an Internet "platform" to support all sorts of devices. As it turned out, .Net mainly manifested itself as a collection of technologies for developers, and that's how we have chosen to evaluate it.

  • DevPartner 7.1 is a powerful suite

    The transition to Microsoft’s brave new world of managed code will probably take a decade, during which time Windows programmers will struggle with the complexities of a hybrid managed/unmanaged environment — both in the Windows OS itself and in the componentised applications and services layered on top of it. Instrumenting these very different programming environments — so that developers can analyse, profile, and more effectively debug programs straddling the unmanaged and managed worlds — is a big challenge that Compuware’s latest offering, DevPartner Studio 7.1, tackles fearlessly.

  • MS Office “system” attacks collaboration

    When Microsoft took a $US51 million stake in Groove Networks two years ago, the motivation was clear. Collaboration would be one of the themes of the new decade; Office needed to become a more compelling platform for teamwork. Office 2003 attacks the challenge not by splicing in Groove DNA, but rather by cobbling together a solution that enhances the core productivity apps using SharePoint and the new Live Communications Server. The results are delightful in some ways, perplexing in others, and mostly tangential to collaboration’s bread-and-butter application, email.

  • STRATEGIC DEVELOPER: How rich is the rich GUI?

    Sometimes when his lieutenants are talking, I close my eyes and hear Bill Gates — his cadence, his repetition of favourite words. One of those favourite words is “great”, as in “great platform for connected apps”. Another, delivered with no apparent sense of irony, is “rich”, as in “rich Internet apps”. We absorb these words so easily that we can lose sight of the agendas behind them.

  • MS InfoPath 2003: Mission accomplished

    The next version of Microsoft Office is, among other things, a family of XML editors. Now that I’ve had a chance to work with Microsoft InfoPath 2003, Beta 2, its role and value are becoming clearer.

  • SpamBayes knows spam

    Thomas Bayes, a Presbyterian minister and mathematician born just over 300 years ago, would be shocked to see most of the email messages that bid for our attention nowadays. He would be thrilled to know, however, that his statistical inference theorem has inspired a potent counterattack. An open source project called SpamBayes has emerged as a powerful weapon in the war on spam. There are a few different implementations of SpamBayes.