ooPSLA 2007 in Montreal, Canada - Oct. 21 to Oct. 25, 2007
(this is a continuation from my ooPSLA 2007 review part 1 and part 2)
Aside from the keynotes, I attended a few other noteworthy talks. In particular I want to mention three.
Martin Rinard of MIT presented an Ownard! paper entitled Living in the Comfort Zone. This is a continuation of Martin's work on what he calls failure-oblivious computing or Acceptability-Oriented Computing. In a nutshell, Martin is fundamentally questioning our notion of usable software. My interpretation of his main argument follows. Since all software will have bugs, he questions whether we can approach software construction with the explicit assumption that these bugs do and will always exist and whether we can simply make the systems more resistant to inputs that cause problems. In recent studies for various small, but heavily used systems, he experimented and collected data that seems to corroborate his hypothesis that there is a comfort zone in which most inputs to the system could be reduced
The second talk was by a truly interesting fellow named Brian Foote who, over the years, has also acquired a reputation for asking tough questions at ooPSLA keynotes and talks. Brian's presentation was very unconventional and he was introduced as the 'conscience of ooPLSA'. Having had wine and a chat with Brian two days earlier, I would have to personally agree with the preceding words.
Brian's talk is based on a paper that he wrote with Joe Yoder entitled BIG BALL of MUD. Brian introduced his talk, if I recall correctly, as "An introduction to Post-Modern Programming." It certainly is an out of the ordinary talk by a rather unique speaker. It's a collage of what appears to be a random survey of important thoughts, ideas, people, and failures in modern software engineering. However, there lies what I think is a coherent message and thesis in all of this blurry and witty exposé, and it is that software, perhaps due to its human roots, seems to have a certain inertia toward complexity and convolution. Anyone who has worked on truly successful and decently BIG software systems can attest to this tendency. Things seem to generally get worse, not better. The code becomes a big mess and market and customer pressures always seem to prevent one from ever reengineer for the better. Some techniques
The final talk I want to mention is Erich Gamma's (IBM Rational) talk on Jazz. This is the latest initiative from the people and the company that brought you Eclipse---the Rational division of IBM. Jazz is sort of an expanded version of the Eclipse platform containing all sorts of jazzy add-ons for team collaboration. For instance, Erich showed how a distributed team of developers for the Jazz
There are still some questions about Jazz's availability and license. I will stay out of it for two reasons. First, I personally don't think that everything that the IBM Eclipse team does should automatically be given away for free, we are a for-profit company, and in this case the OSS business model seems inexistent. Finally, I am not part of the Jazz team nor do I know the details behind the project or their motivations, goals, and customers.
A lot of people raved about the 50 in 50 talk by Dick Gabriel (IBM Research) and Guy Steele Jr. (Sun Microsystems) but I did not see it. I was visiting some old high-school buddies who live in Montréal and
In what will surely be my final ooPSLA 2007 post (truly this time) I will complete the braindump with a recall of the LINQ tutorial, the DSM/DSL workshop, and the DLS symposium. I'll briefly mention some highlights from the different panels I attended and give a brief carricature of interesting colleagues, friends, and folks I met at ooPLSA this year. Easily my favorite ooPLSA of all previous years.
Change history (marked with
11/25/2007: minor English updates and additions