July 3, 2004
After three days in St. Petersburg I am now on my way to the city where I grew up and graduated from high school. The city is Ystad located in the very south of Sweden at the Baltic Sea. Every year I spend a week in Ystad to meet old friends, friends I have had since I was 7-18 years old.
To my surprise there are not yet any major software conferences in Russia. Conferences are organized by universities or by international companies like SUN, Microsoft, etc. I gave a talk at the 5th international scientific and technical conference and got a good impression of what people worked with and what was presented. Then I met with academic leaders with a strong network in the software industry. I spent a day at St. Petersburg State University as a guest of Professor Andrey Terekhov.
That day turned out to be very interesting. For many years I have been wanting to develop process and tools to reengineer old software systems to become modern component based software, modeled with UML and implemented on modern platforms such as J2EE or .NET. Andrey told me that he had been working with a company in the US that sells tools and services to reengineer from the bottom and up. I know the company very well. In fact, a few years ago, they offered me to become a member of their advisory board. And now I met the guy who developed their tools.
The reason I didn’t accept the offer was that I didn’t see that their design would be generic enough. They had their own modelling technique, their own process and their own tools. My approach is the one I wrote about 1991 in my OOPSLA’91 paper on Reengineering Old Systems to an Object-Oriented Architecture. However, I liked their low level reverse engineering tools. And these tools were developed by Andrey and his company. I think there is a huge demand to reengineer legacy systems, particularly those written in COBOL or PL/1. I have many customers that would be willing to invest in such tools. I am now thinking about if and how to do this. Thus, the meeting with Professor Andrey Terekhov and his team was really refreshing.
During my stay in St. Petersburg, I enjoyed sightseeing and good restaurants. Elena Ivanova arranged my whole visit and she and her son were great guides. Of course, the Ermitage was very interesting. Also just walking around in the city during the beautiful White Nights and along the Neva River was very relaxing and romantic. And I love Beluga caviar. I had caviar with small vodka every night, and carried home as much as you are allowed. The price for 213 g top quality caviar was just 50 USD. At home I would have had to pay more than 1,000 USD. Maybe we are in the wrong business?