I started out expecting to write a blog on dashboards, but quickly found myself thinking in broader terms about user interfaces (UIs). Anyone that has spent just a brief amount of time in the software industry has been exposed to countless UIs. Stop and think about all of the applications and Web sites that you have experienced over your career. For me, it is easily more than 10,000. After 20-plus years, that’s a safe guess.
But, let’s step outside of “our software” and into the more esoteric realm of our day-to-day lives. We encounter many more UIs, as well. What about that microwave, coffee maker, your vehicle dashboard, credit card interface at the McBreakfast or even the security pad at the entrance to the office? They are all examples of UIs that we interact with every day.
So, let’s get it right out in the open: “The best user interface is no user interface at all.” There, I’ve said it. Now the heretical flaming can begin from the RIA pundits. I’ve heard it over and over through the years. However, it’s an interesting idea and doesn’t truly speak to an absolute magical way to control things (hint: that’s still an interface!) but to the notion of simplicity. Simplicity is the key to making a usable, understandable and productive interface. Continue reading
In previous blog posts, we have discussed Eclipse and how we are using this platform for our Developer Studio in the next major release of EBI. This blog will focus on installing Eclipse, accessing its documentation, and installing a feature for Eclipse so that you become familiar with the environment for the future version of EBI Developer Studio. Even though many link Eclipse to programming, I will focus on the non-programming aspects of Eclipse so anyone can follow along.
With that said, we will tackle installation, which will probably be the hardest part of working with Eclipse. Continue reading
Today we are going to talk about distributed transactions, a common component of enterprise systems. First some definitions. Looking through past EXTOL blogs, the term transaction is used in many different ways. You might have specific meanings for the word in your own business. The kinds of transactions I’m talking about here are those at the software component level. These transactions may or may not mirror a higher level business transaction. There are many locations inside a software system where data is exchanged between components, but we usually don’t describe them all with the word ‘transaction’. The term is usually reserved for an exchange were certain conditions are maintained. These extra conditions are nearly always the principles of ACID [A]tomicity, [C]onsistency, [I]solation, and [D]urability. You can look up the details on Wikipidia, but in short, these ideas are important to keep ‘bad’ things from happening as the exchange is performed (such as interference from other actions executing in the system, unexpected crashes, etc…). Continue reading