Google updates the M Developer Preview Google has announced the first update to the M Developer Preview introduced at Google I/O 2015. The M Developer Preview is an early look into the company’s upcoming Android operating system. The latest release includes up-to-date platform code, near-final APIs, and refined Nexus system images and emulator system images, according to Google.Developers can test and validate their apps using the M Developer Preview. More information is available here.GitLab raises $1.5M in seed funding GitLab announced it has raised US$1.5M in seed funding to accelerate its growth and expand its operations.“Enterprise technology is being replaced by open-source technology, and this seed round of funding will help us accelerate our growth and build our sales and marketing team in San Francisco to work more closely with current and new clients,” said Sytse Sijbrandij, CEO of GitLab. After previous reports that BlackBerry was working on an Android device, Google and BlackBerry have announced a new partnership to build a secure enterprise OS for Android.“Android Lollipop delivers key enterprise functionality and addresses any previous enterprise security concerns,” BlackBerry wrote on its website. “BES12 supports Android Lollipop, allowing you to confidently deploy Android devices in your organization.”According to BlackBerry, the OS will provide low TCO, a unified administration console, comprehensive EMM, client-side lockdown, global support, and end-to-end security.
The OpenSSL team has issued a high-severity security advisory.The advisory discloses a new certificate validation vulnerability where during certificate verification, OpenSSL will attempt to find alternative certificate chains if the first validation attempt fails. The vulnerability lies in an implementation error allowing an attacker to forge an invalid certificate and bypass verification. This security issue affects OpenSSL versions 1.0.2c, 1.0.2b, 1.0.1n and 1.0.1o.More information is available here. MapQuest launches enterprise geospatial platform and developer toolsBeset by Google Maps, Waze and other competitors, MapQuest will not go gently into the good night.The company announced the launch of a new MapQuest + Developers Geospatial Toolkit, which includes mobile-focused APIs and SDKs as part of a geospatial platform offering forward, and reverse and batch geocoding for enterprise applications. The platform also offers customizable point-to-point, multipoint, optimized and route matrix functions, geospatial search capabilities spanning radius, rectangle, polygon and corridor searching functions, and licensed TomTom data along with open datasets via OpenStreetMap.As for the developer tools themselves, the toolkit includes an augmented API service layer powered by API management provider Apigee, and a redesigned developer network and dashboard to access MapQuest APIs and SDKs.The augmented API service layer, powered by Apigee, provides the provisioning experience, usage analytics, and documentation that developers expect. Additional information about the MapQuest + Developers Geospatial Toolkit can be found on the company’s new developer blog.
Google has announced Eddystone, an open-source Bluetooth LE beacon format for developers to integrate into cross-platform applications.Eddystone defines a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) message format for proximity beacon messages, supporting multiple frame types for various application use cases on Android, iOS or other mobile platforms. Google is launching two new APIs along with Eddystone—the Nearby API and the Proximity Beacon API—allowing developers to enable beacon-based communication between devices in close proximity, and to associate semantic locations with beacons.Google engineer Chandu Thota and product manager Matthew Kulick detailed Eddystone and additional developer features of the format in a blog post.“By design, a beacon is meant to be discoverable by any nearby Bluetooth Smart device via its identifier, which is a public signal,” they stated. “At the same time, privacy and security are really important, so we built in a feature called Ephemeral Identifiers (EIDs) which change frequently, and allow only authorized clients to decode them. EIDs will enable you to securely do things like find your luggage once you get off the plane or find your lost keys. We’ll publish the technical specs of this design soon.”Salesforce launches Salesforce ShieldSalesforce has unveiled Salesforce Shield, a set of cloud application development services that expands the security and compliance toolsets of developers creating apps on the Salesforce1 platform for regulated industries. Built natively into the Salesforce1 Platform, Salesforce Shield is made up of three core services: event monitoring, field audit trail and platform encryption. These services bring drag-and-drop tooling functionality to building auditing, encryption, archiving and monitoring capabilities natively into Salesforce1 apps.More details are available in the Salesforce blog post.Glimpse joins Microsoft’s Visual Studio teamGlimpse, the startup behind the open-source Web debugging and diagnostics tool for ASP.NET, is joining Microsoft on the Visual Studio team.Glimpse is used by ASP.NET developers to provide an intuitive visual timeline of request execution, a log of SQL queries, a URL route debugger, and more embedded directly into the Web page. As part of the Visual Studio team, Glimpse founders Nik Molnar and Anthony van der Hoorn will continue working on Glimpse as an open-source project, along with working to improve performance, diagnostics and debugging tools in Visual Studio.Additional details about Glimpse joining Microsoft are available here.
Google security researchers say “non-expert” Web users overlook software updates—the “seatbelts of online security” as a best practice, along with other misconceptions about safe Web habits.Google researchers have published the results of two surveys, one with 231 security experts and another with 294 Web users, asking respondents what practices they took to keep their data and privacy safe online. The Top 5 responses, shown in the infographic above, agree on the one painfully obvious one: using strong passwords. But the rest of the lists show just how much average users have to learn about how to stay safe on the Web.(Related: The worst passwords users come up with)Security experts identified using unique password and password managers as the best way to maintain passwords, while users responded they rely mostly on changing passwords frequently. Only 24% of Web users reported using password managers, compared to 73% of experts. “Our findings suggested this was due to lack of education about the benefits of password managers and/or a perceived lack of trust in these programs,” the researchers explained.One Web user told the researchers, “I try to remember my passwords because no one can hack my mind.”Where security experts and users truly differed, though, were in perceptions toward software updates and antivirus software. Thirty-five percent of experts and only 2% of non-experts said that installing software updates was one of their top security practices. Antivirus software, which experts said has benefits but grants users a false sense of security, is used by 42% of users surveyed compared to only 7% of experts.“Experts recognize the benefits of updates—‘Patch, patch, patch,’ said one expert—while non-experts not only aren’t clear on them, but are concerned about the potential risks of software updates. A non-expert told us: ‘I don’t know if updating software is always safe. What [if] you download malicious software?’ and ‘Automatic software updates are not safe in my opinion, since it can be abused to update malicious content,’ ” the researchers wrote.The researchers concluded their research highlighted “fundamental misunderstandings about basic online security practices,” and that by spurning software updates, users are driving into Web traffic without seatbelts. Google is presenting its research this week at the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security in Ottawa.
The latest release of Helix Threat Detection version 3.0 provides improved risk visibility, and it provides more details into user behavior comparisons to normal baseline activities, according to Perforce. Other improvements include enhanced performance, improved installation and setup experience, and the ability to override built-in bot detection.Perforce also announced the upcoming release of Helix Versioning Engine 2015.2 Beta, which improves the scalability, security and performance of enterprise-ready capabilities.Other recent updates include P4VS 2015.1 being available for Visual Studio 2015 Enterprise Edition and Community Edition, and new video tutorials about distributed versioning and using the Helix Visual Client.In addition, Perforce announced a change to its support policies effective Jan. 1, 2016. According to the company, server products will be supported for two years after initial availability, and desktop and Web apps will be supported for one year. Perforce has announced some new improvements to its suite of tools designed to provide better performance and insight into applications. The updates include Helix Git Fusion, Helix Threat Detection, the Helix Plugin for Visual Studio, Helix Versioning Engine, and the tutorial video library.Helix Git Fusion 2015.2 comes with a major update to its Git push implementation to provide better performance, reduced memory consumption, and fully populate branches with automatic de-duplication to save disk space.(Related: The latest news from Perforce)“The result is dramatically faster,” wrote Zig Zichterman, technical lead at Perforce, in a blog post. “Repos that used to take hours to convert now do so in minutes instead. As a matter of fact, the new approach is so much faster that many of our internal testing repos push so quickly, their times amount to little more than statistical noise. We’ve actually had to find much larger repos to test with to achieve meaningful results. And that’s a nice problem to have.”
Xamarin now plans to ship a tooling update in tandem with a Roslyn-enabled MonoDevelop/Xamarin Studio preview in September while it fixes the memory usage issues.As for Roslyn as Mono’s default compiler, Mono’s master release now contains support for using Portable Program Database (PPDB) files, allowing Roslyn to produce Mono debug information. PPDB file support was added to Roslyn this month, lifting what de Icaza described as a major roadblock to Mono adoption of Roslyn.“The initial Roslyn release only had support for generating debug information through a proprietary/native library on Windows, which meant that while Roslyn could be used to compile code on Unix, the result would not contain any debug information—this prevented Roslyn from being useful for most compilation uses,” he wrote.The Mono Project is still working to enable full support for PPDB files and by association Roslyn in the ecosystem. According to de Icaza, Mono’s Reflection.Emit implementation requires a back end to generate PPDBs for third-party compilers and dynamic code generators and PPDB support in the IKVM Java Mono implementation. The Mono team is also in the process of fixing class library bugs caused by integrating Roslyn by replacing bits of Mono code with Microsoft .NET reference code.As of yet there is no set date for completing Roslyn integration as Mono’s default compiler. Xamarin and the Mono Project community are still working to integrate Microsoft’s open-source Roslyn compiler into Mono.In a post on his personal blog, Xamarin CTO Miguel de Icaza detailed the Xamarin and Mono efforts on two fronts: using Roslyn as Mono’s default compiler, and as its IDE engine powering code completion and refactoring. Over the past year, the teams have worked to replace the current Mono engine (a combination of the NRefactory library and Mono C# compiler) with Roslyn.De Icaza revealed the Mono Project has completed a feature-complete Roslyn-powered MonoDevelop branch in Xamarin Studio, leveraging Roslyn for code completion, refactoring, suggestions and code formatting. Xamarin has also ported NFactory refactoring to work atop Roslyn in Visual Studio using an extension. The branch isn’t quite ready yet, though, according to de Icaza.(Related: Mono brings .NET to Android)“While our Roslyn branch is working great and is a pleasure to use, it also consumes more memory and, by extension, runs a little slower,” he said. “This is not Roslyn’s fault, but the side effects of leaks and limitations in our code. Our original plan was to release this for our September release [Cycle 6], but we decided to pull the feature out from the release to give us time to fix the leaks that affected the Roslyn engine and tune the performance of Roslyn running on Mono.”
NSA bulk phone data collection is endingThe United Sates National Security Agency will finally be ending its bulk phone data collection on Nov. 29, 2015.“As part of our effort to transition to the new authority, we have evaluated whether NSA should maintain access to the historical metadata after the conclusion of that 180-day period,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement. “NSA has determined that analytic access to that historical metadata collected under Section 215 (any data collected before Nov. 29, 2015) will cease on Nov.29, 2015.”Microsoft’s Android launcherMicrosoft has been quietly testing an Android Launcher, the Verge reported. The Arrow Launcher is still currently in private beta, and it features quick access to apps, notes, reminders and most-frequent contacts. According to the Verge, the launcher is still a bit buggy and doesn’t support widgets yet. Google is enabling developers to use their own encryption keys on its cloud platform. The company recently announced that Customer-Supplied Encryption Keys for Google Compute Engine, which allows developers to bring their own encryption key to encrypt resources, is in beta.“You create and hold the keys, you determine when data is active or at rest, and absolutely no one inside or outside Google can access your at-rest data without possession of your keys,” wrote Leonard Law, product manager at Google, in a blog post. “Google does not retain your keys, and only holds them transiently in order to fulfill your request.”Google also noted that if developers lose their encryption keys, it will not be able to recover them.
At Android Developer Conference Boston yesterday, Intel unveiled a new set of features for its Integrated Native Development Experience (INDE) developer tools platform. These new capabilities will allow Android developers to port their applications to iPhone with only UI changes likely being required.Jeff McVeigh, general manager of performance client and visual computing at Intel, said that these new capabilities for INDE will save developers a great deal of time and effort when striving for multi-platform releases.(Related: AnDevCon keynote highlights app discovery) McVeigh said that developers can use INDE to “create Java-based iOS apps, deploy on Windows or Mac within Android Studio or using Xcode, and you can debug on device as well as in a simulator.”McVeigh said that projects using INDE can see an average of 60% code reuse across the Top 25 non-game Android apps, as well as a time savings of about two years. “Results will vary based on how you’ve separated your code, what libraries you use and what logic you have, but this is a frame of reference for your team,” he said.The major area where rewriting is required is in the UI layer, said McVeigh. He claimed that in some cases, the logic portions of an app do not need to be rewritten at all. UI layer adjustments are required to give apps a look and feel specific to their deployed platform, however.McVeigh said that an early-access beta of the new version of INDE supporting multi-platform deployment is available today.
Researchers from Cornell University and the École Polytechnique de Montréal have developed a programming language designed to code behaviors for heterogeneous robot swarms.Buzz is an extensible, dynamically typed programming language defining primitive commands for self-organizing robots and swarms of robots. Developers can use the language to code behaviors both from the perspective of a single robot and the overall swarm.(Related: Robotic vision improves with advances in image recognition)According to the researchers, the language’s single-robot primitives include robot-specific instructions and manipulation of neighborhood data, while swarm-based primitives allow for dynamic robot team management and global information sharing. Buzz runs on a decentralized runtime platform, a virtual machine written entirely in C allowing the robots to self-organize independent of the group as a whole. The researchers, Giovanni Beltrame, Adam Lee-Brown and Carlo Pinciroli, created the language to scale development of swarm robotics software up to the growing demand caused by cheaper mass robot production. They designed Buzz for code reusability through libraries and common domain-specific language features to ultimately standardize swarm robotics research and development.“We believe that one of the most important aspects of Buzz is its potential to become an enabler for future research on real-world, complex swarm robotics systems,” the researchers said. “Currently, no standardized platform exists that allows researchers to compare, share and reuse swarm behaviors. Inescapably, development involves a certain amount of re-coding of recurring swarm behaviors, such as flocking, barriers, and creation of gradients. The design of Buzz is motivated and nurtured by the necessity to overcome this state of affairs.”Developers can extend the language to add new primitives as heterogeneous robot swarm capabilities grow more complex. The Buzz runtime platform is also designed to run atop other frameworks, including the open-source Robot Operating System.The full academic paper on Buzz is available here, including code examples and an analysis based on simulated experiments of the language and the runtime platform’s scalability in terms of large-scale swarm algorithms. The researchers plan to submit Buzz to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Transactions on Robotics publication.
Conferences can be mundane, especially if you attend one alone. Attendees fall into patterns of waking up, eating at a set time, sitting in set classes with a set schedule of things to talk about, and having a lot of set conversations. But the keynote that took place earlier this morning at Agile2015 tried to disrupt the conference mold of the same old routines and break attendees out of their comfort zone.Jessie Shternshus, who founded the communication-focused training company The Improv Effect, took to the stage to talk about individuals, interactions and improvisation in agile, and she not only brought fun into the conference, she also brought fun into the methodology and proved that you can find agile in the most unexpected places.(Related: Other best practices for agile teams)Coming from a career in teaching, and a background in improvisation, you wouldn’t expect that she would have a firm grasp of agile software development and applying it to work. But she quickly debunked those notions. “Improv is the practice of reacting, and making and creating something in the moment, and because of this, we invent new thought patterns, new ways of thinking, [and] new products,” said Shternhus. According to her, those foundations of improvisation are much like agile. “It is like two creative types of minds mashed together to make something really cool.”In agile, the focus is on stories and case studies, moving forward, responding to change, honoring the vision over the plan, failing fast, collaborating with customers, and doing retrospectives to learn. Similarly, in improv, exercises train participants to be present and reactive, operate unscripted, use mistakes as opportunities, use the audience’s perspective to gain feedback, and do troupe retrospectives, Shternshus explained.To go even further, Shternshus had the audience do a number of improv exercises to show how they could be applied to agile.“If you are open to not forcing an agenda on people, you will usually be delighted and surprised, and you will see a whole new perspective,” she said. “The idea is that you know [that] by saying no, the response [gets] people on the defensive, or they just shut down completely.”
While it is still possible for users to modify their settings and defaults, Beard said Microsoft has made it more difficult for users to do so.“It now takes more than twice the number of mouse clicks, scrolling through content and some technical sophistication for people to reassert the choices they had previously made in earlier versions of Windows. It’s confusing, hard to navigate, and easy to get lost,” he wrote.According to Beard, this isn’t the first time Mozilla has reached out to Microsoft to discuss the issue, but due to the lack of progress Microsoft has made to address it, Mozilla is taking the necessary steps to fix it such as addressing Nadella and bringing it to the community’s attention. In addition, Mozilla is rolling out support materials and a tutorial video to help users restore their settings.“These changes aren’t unsettling to us because we’re the organization that makes Firefox,” Beard wrote. “They are unsettling because there are millions of users who love Windows and who are having their choices ignored, and because of the increased complexity put into everyone’s way if and when they choose to make a choice different than what Microsoft prefers.” Windows 10 officially arrived this week, and not everyone is impressed. In an open letter to Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, Mozilla’s CEO Chris Beard called the company out on what he calls a disturbing feature of Windows 10.The latest release of the operating system automatically changes users’ default apps, such as making Microsoft Edge the main browser.(Related: Microsoft releases Windows 10)“The update experience appears to have been designed to throw away the choice your customers have made about the Internet experience they want, and replace it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have,” Beard wrote.
There are so many other applications in so many other verticals: We derive healthcare benefits when sensors can communicate with medical professionals, hospitals and even pharmacies to keep us healthy.Unfortunately, healthcare seems to be the only place that wearables are having an impact. There are now all manner of health-related wearable devices—from Fitbit and Pebble to offerings from Apple, Garmin and Rogue Fitness—that count our steps, monitor our heart rate and breathing, and some that even monitor the blood sugar levels of diabetics at regular intervals.We do not mean to belittle the value of these devices. They are perhaps the most important kind of human-device interaction that we can have: little machines that help us stay healthy, fit and alive. But to truly gain wide traction beyond the fitness buffs among us, wearable devices are going to have to offer more. Google’s first attempt at putting a computer literally in front of your face with its Glass project stalled; the company is only now beginning to revisit the feasibility and value of information delivered by eyewear.That’s not to say there is no room for wearables. The Apple Watch, which had tremendous uptake upon its release, offers a wide array of applications for its App Store and takes into consideration that these devices need to be stylish if they’re to be worn. But for wearable technology to really take off, we want to see a whole lot more functionality, or more vertical uses cases, that scream “MUST HAVE.” Bring the world to us in our wearable devices. Augment our reality beyond buzzes and vibrations. Reimagine the form factor. Then, perhaps, we’ll be motivated to put one on. WearablesWhen talking about the Internet of Things, people usually think of the software in their cars, or smart appliances that communicate with back-end systems to keep the house running smoothly, or robots on factory floors doing manufacturing. When talk turns to wearable devices, though, the conversation seems to begin and end with watches, wristbands, glasses and now virtual reality headsets.And today, it seems, the Internet of Things is leapfrogging past wearables, as industrial uses for systems-on-chip present more opportunity for developers. The ultimate goal of the Internet of Things is not to create a world where machines act alone, as on a factory floor or embedded in an HVAC system. Quite the contrary. The goal is to create a world in which people can interact with their technologically savvy machines and appliances to improve the human condition.(Related: Making wearables work for consumers)Telematics—the use of software and hardware technology in cars—can help us avoid accidents, can place our own entertainment at our fingertips, can improve our gas mileage, and now even hit the brakes for us when we get too close to the car in front. It can flag us when it’s time for service, sense when it’s raining so it can automatically turn on the wipers, and even sense how we drive to help us reduce our insurance costs if we drive cautiously enough.
These lawyers with whom I’ve been associating all have the same thought process: Copyright is not for protecting software, but patents are. And this is why everyone has to spend all their time cranking out useless patents like sandbags in a flood.Now I will fully admit that software patents are getting more restrictive, and the patent office, working with members of the community, has offered up a few ideas to make software patents less offensive and broad. This is a good thing, as in the past we’ve had some truly horrendous software patents issued for utterly mundane things that every developer uses every day.This is not to say, however, that software patents are restrictive at all. They are now “more restrictive” than before. They are now greater than zero. Just barely. Stupid things are still getting patented in software. Things like hyperlinking a timecode in a video, previewing two Web pages at once, or just making a plain old bookmark.Patents are completely wrong for protecting software. In our current system, there is only one aspect of patents that I feel is valid for software protections: their length. Ten to 20 years is about right for protecting a piece of software, and copyright law would extend that to something like less than 70 years. But that’s an issue with copyright law and is outside the scope of this rant. I have, for some truly inexplicable reason, spent a lot of time in the company of IP lawyers in the past month. This includes software industry folks, professors, and even a general counsel for the MPAA. I am not a lawyer, I don’t often wear suits, and I was thrown out of a few colleges in my time, so you can understand, perhaps, why it is unusual for me to be in the company of such affluent and well-educated folks.If there is one thing that has completely perturbed me through all these meetings, however, it is the observation that these lawyers, who work full time in IP litigation and regulation, universally agree that patent law is perfectly suited to software, provided the software patents are well written.(Related: Trying to make sense of muddy patent waters)That “well written” is a change I’ve seen in this community over the past decade—the only change to their positions. Just like the description of Earth in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” went from “Harmless” to “Mostly Harmless,” it seems that the legal world considers the problem with software patents, historically, to be that they were not worded correctly. The problem was that they were too broad.
(Related: How improv can help your team do agile)A lot of companies, especially large ones, talk a big game about agile. When I’ve had a chance to peek inside, far too often they’re agile in name only. They do standups and use an agile board to track work, but they haven’t embraced the fact that agile means dealing with uncertainty, constantly challenging yourself to change when you need to, and trusting your teams to make the right call when the moment comes.When a company goes agile, questions like “When will this feature ship?” will be met with answers like “When it’s ready. We’re aiming for late next month,” or even better, “It already shipped, and we ship an improvement to it every day!” That’s a radical change from “Whenever we’re forced to ship it in order to meet our sales teams’ quota for the quarter.” And we managers should be motivating our teams to understand the importance of their effort and trust that our teams care as deeply about that feature (and the impact to our business) as we do.For their part, team members from different disciplines have to work side by side instead of working in isolation, and then “throw it over the wall” to the next team. That means aligning road maps, planning cycles and schedules. It means balanced teams with product managers, designers, engineers, tech writers and quality, which means opening yourself up to new people and understanding the project from different points of view. I’ll jump straight to the punch line: It takes more than agile tooling to make you agile.That’s probably not what you expected to hear from a guy who makes sophisticated collaboration tools. (Or, if you did, congratulations on being a mind reader. Now please get out of my head.)But it’s the truth.And it’s a truth that’s easy to lose sight of because tools are seductive—even sexy—in their own way. Who doesn’t fantasize about a magical tool that will instantly remove bottlenecks in your team’s workflow? A couple of jobs ago, my team started using GreenHopper (now known as JIRA Agile), which made a massive difference in our team’s ability to stay on the same page despite being split across five different locations. So I understand the obsession with tools. But there’s more to it than that.
Cortana for Android is now available to users through a public beta. According to Microsoft, the application for Android is similar to Cortana for Windows PC or Windows Phone. It features the ability to set and get reminders, search the Web, and track information such as flights. Currently the hands-free capability for Cortana is only available to Windows users.“The Cortana app on Android is the companion to your Windows 10 PC, extending Cortana’s functionality across any device you carry, everywhere you go,” wrote Susan Hendrich, principal program manager lead at Microsoft, in a blog post.Google introduces Offline Media Import/ExportGoogle wants developers to dust off their old data backups and import them to the cloud. The company has announced Offline Media Import/Export: a solution that enables developers to load their data onto Google’s Cloud Storage by mailing in their hard disk drives, tapes and USB flash drives.“Offline Media Import/Export is helpful if you’re limited to a slow, unreliable or expensive Internet connection,” wrote Ben Chong, product manager at Google, in a blog post. “Offline Media Import/Export is fast, simple, and can include a chain-of-custody process.”
That doesn’t mean things are cut and dried by just adding support for containers to vSphere, however. VMware, said Adams, deals with IT admins, not with developers directly. As a result, supporting containers doesn’t mean just offering the ability to package and run containers in your infrastructure.“IT admins say, ‘I get you like containers, but you have to give me enterprise capabilities: security, network, data persistence, SLAs, and a consistent level of management,’ ” said Adams. “Since VMworld last year, we’ve been dropping things piece by piece to make all this work.”Today, containers are supported through Project Bonneville, an effort to make vSphere see containers as if they were virtual machines, and vice versa. This means vSphere users can now deploy and manage containers and virtual machines without caring which one is which.VMware is preparing the first update for vSphere, which will arrive later this year. It will include updates to vMotion, which includes cross-data-center syncing, designed to keep ISO files and other info consistent across data centers. This feature also helps to keep virtual machines synced around the globe.Going forward, Adams said that containers will continue to see first-class support from VMware. The end goal is to provide enterprise-grade support, management and services for containers in the enterprise. While he admitted this will be a lot of work, he reiterated that VMware is committed to the task. VMware doesn’t care if you use virtual machines or containers at this point. The company made this abundantly clear as it opened its annual VMworld conference in San Francisco yesterday. It took this opportunity to discuss improvements in vSphere 6.0, which allow containers to become first-class citizens of the data center.Michael Adams, director of vSphere product marketing at VMware, said that vSphere 6.0 can deal with hybrid clouds in a few ways. While it can now handle virtual machines and containers as if they were the same thing, it can also spin those instances up internally or externally, providing what enterprises think of as a more traditional hybrid cloud model.(Related: Other news out of VMworld 2015)Adams said that the interest in containers has fueled VMware to build toward support and the types of enterprise offerings needed to make containers viable. “We’ve been dropping a lot of bread crumbs around what we were going to do with containers,” he said. “A lot of it was about how do we bring together the best of both worlds. Developers like containers because they’re fast and portable.”
Go agile, or die. It sounds overdramatic, and it is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is the reality for a majority of businesses in the software development industry.“Eventually, the companies that take the agile approach win in the competitive race, and that means they are the most successful companies,” said Baruch Sadogursky, developer advocate at JFrog. “There are industries, companies and niches that won’t go agile at all, and that is okay. But they won’t be doing anything new, exciting or interesting.”(Related: A recap of Agile2015)The race is a sprint to be the first to market, deliver the best software, and constantly update that software with new and exciting features as fast as possible. But with any competition, there are some winners and some losers. The desire to be agile is only a quarter of the battle. To actually succeed in agile is a processes within itself that takes time, dedication and discipline. Best practices are discovered and put into place, then tweaked as people and their interactions change. Going agile is a little like going on a diet, according to Kevin Dunne, director of product strategy at QASymphony. When you go on a diet, you have to work hard, exercise and eat right to see the results, which is a better-quality version of yourself. But it doesn’t stop there; in order to maintain your newfound weight, you have to constantly uphold a healthy lifestyle. Similarly, when you go agile, you need to be disciplined. And to trim the fat, you have to change your mindset, the culture of the business, your workflow, and even your role within the business. There is no end point to going agile; you are always agile and always improving.“People that see the transition as kind of a phase that has a start and end date are set up to fail,” Dunne said. “It is just like a diet. It is really more about a lifestyle change going to agile. You can’t just do agile for a few weeks, and then just forget about it. It has to be something you constantly embrace in your organization to keep it successful.”You aren’t doing agile; you are agileAgile isn’t just a process that is implemented into the software development life cycle; it is a culture change that affects the entire business. To truly be successful in agile, people need to understand that agile isn’t something you do; it is something you become, according to Caleb Brown, agile coach at CollabNet.“Instead of saying, ‘We are just going to do the process to get our outcome,’ it is, ‘We want this outcome, let’s evaluate this process to see if it works,’ ” he said. “It is a matter of how do we get there, what decisions need to be made along the way, as opposed to [following] these steps and we get there.”
Bottom line: There is no more shame in making a grammatical mistake than in making a coding mistake. The shame comes if you don’t care enough about quality to have a system in place to catch it.Most analyses of hiring show another strong factor, which is the ability of the candidate to make money. The relationship between an individual developer and revenue is usually pretty tenuous, but the equivalent attribute is when a developer is associated with shipping projects. In a real sense, no software is ever finished, but gaining experience in delivering value to end users and focusing on customers—not code—is the software development equivalent of being a “closer.” Coffee is for shippers.Bottom line: In your resume and during interviews, don’t dwell on your unfinished work, no matter how interesting or cutting-edge it is. The game framework in alpha is the 21st-century equivalent of the novel in the top-drawer. Instead, emphasize how your code has delivered value to real people.Especially in high-tech hotspots such as the Bay Area, hiring managers have been scorched by turnover. Time-to-first-check-in is often weeks with new developers, and it can be months before someone fully understands the project and its context and starts to contribute at their full potential. But with salaries continuing to rise and career-growth expectations distorted by a combination of an industry boom, the youthful age distribution of programmers, and competition for talent, there’s no gap between the thought “This person has great talent!” and “Will this person leave us after a year?” Last month, discussing the habits that developers should cultivate that will keep them employed, I emphasized aspects that were visible outside your current employment. But the easiest way to stay employable is to be highly valued at your current job; believe me when I tell you that searching for a job is vastly more productive when you are not in financial peril.Before I turn to those aspects, though, I’d like to talk about a fascinating data point from Aline Lerner’s “Lessons from a year’s worth of hiring data”: spelling and grammar mistakes in your resume and initial communication matter more than anything else in predicting whether or not you’ll receive an offer. Proper English is more important than your GPA, the prestige of your college, or even previous employment at a top company such as Google, Apple or Microsoft! Perhaps more precisely, improper English is more damaging than other weaknesses. And although I have not seen Lerner’s data, I am confident that the grammatical errors are not esoteric ones, but mistakes of tense agreement, inconsistency in pluralizing, and homonym swaps such as its/it’s and their/there.One costly mistake I see in lots of resumes and CVs is inconsistency in formatting lists and sections. You would never submit sample code that was inconsistently indented, had improper line endings, and used inconsistent bracketing and whitespace rules. Yes, it’s time-consuming and frustrating to manually tweak the beginnings and endings of every section and bullet item so that they are consistent. But what does it say about your programming discipline if you do not take that time?Unfortunately, I can’t offer you the assistance of SD Times’ editorial staff, who save me from embarrassment every third sentence, but you can hire a well-reviewed copy-editor on Upwork for around US$60 an hour. That’s a trivial price to pay for the single-biggest determinant of a job offer.
It is unlikely that there are any development organizations in the world that couldn’t benefit from going faster. To this end, Mendix version 6 arrived today. The new version eliminates vendor lock-in, supports offline applications, and includes new APIs for testing applications.According to Mendix’s CTO Johan den Haan, “We are focusing on helping both business and IT developing apps much faster and with more collaboration. By doing that, we enable digital innovation. Companies are allowed to innovate, delivering a platform that helps you transform IT in the fastest way possible.”(Related: RAD news from Embarcadero) As a rapid application platform, Mendix 6 adds features designed to speed up time-to-market for developers. This includes support for Mendix inside Amazon Web Services, as well as for Cloud Foundry. Building on top of Cloud Foundry yields stability, high availability, failover and scalability to Mendix applications.Because Mendix is model-based, more holistic changes can be spread across applications than could be undertaken with traditional refactoring. Mendix 6 includes new task-automation capabilities, which allow developers to make changes to the underlying models of an application.This version of the platform is also more open than previous releases, said den Haan. “We are working with partners in the ecosystem to create quality tools to do analysis on your models to see if they are maintainable,” he said. “Basically, we are opening up the complete platform. A whole ecosystem of tools can interact with everything on our platform. If they want to move away from Mendix, they can use the API to get all that knowledge and models out. They can read it out of the API and move it to a normal platform.”And that is the real power of Mendix, he said: It is a RAD platform you can leave when you want, rather than remaining locked in for the lifespan of the application.