Iceland by Ivar Jacobson

September 29, 2003

Today, I am in Iceland for the first time. I have always wanted to go to Iceland. This is the country where people today speak a language that has changed very little in 1000 years. At that time our ancestors in Sweden, Norway and Denmark spoke a language more similar to Icelandic of today than to our modern languages. And, most amazing, I didn't understand much.

The reason I came here is that I just gave a talk at a WebSphere user conference. Unfortunately, I can only stay for a very short time. I arrived at 4 pm yesterday from Bonn in Germany and I leave at 1 pm today for Stuttgart - also in Germany. Since it takes about eight hours to get from Germany to Iceland, this nothing less than crazy! I have had a very interesting discussion with some key people. We all agree that software is becoming harder and harder to use - for many reasons. How are we going to change this trend in a dramatic way? Those of you who have followed my work the last couple of years know where I am heading. I believe we need to take a magnum leap. Basically, today all software is passive. The user needs to take initiatives and step by step tell the software what to do. I think that this needs to change for many reasons. Software gets too many features that most people don't know how to use. For instance, how many of the features in a mobile phone do you know how to use? Twenty percent? I believe we need to change this. I believe the trend needs to go from passive software to active software. By active software, I mean software that can help the user to use it - in many different ways. Our WayPointer is such a tool to help people use RUP, Rose or XDE. It makes RUP active. And WayPointer is just the beginning of a trend that will encompass all software.  

Aspect Oriented Development by Ivar Jacobson

September 8, 2003

Last week I gave a talk on aspect-oriented software development at an IBM conference on this subject in Yorktown Heights. Last time I was at this IBM facility was in 1984 when I spent a year as a visiting scientist at MIT. IBM then offered me a job doing research in language development (Prolog-based). I was very excited about moving permanently to the US and so was my family. However, I decided to go back to Sweden to complete my thesis and get a Ph.D. If not, I probably wouldn't have founded Objectory, which was acquired by Rational, which in its turn was acquired by IBM. However, the "end" result was almost the same - working for IBM :-). I am now an executive technical consultant of IBM.

I believe that aspect technology will dramatically improve the way software is developed. I have described this technology as 'the missing link' to keep use cases separate all the way from requirements to code and test. I have written several papers on this subject. Right now I am working on a new book on aspects & use cases.

Last week I gave the same talk on Aspects & Use Cases at the Rational User Conference in Orlando. It was a very well organized conference - a lot of good technical stuff as well as a good portion of fun.

The conference was in Disney World, Orlando, so there were lots of opportunities for having fun. One evening we were dancing at the hotel. Great Caribbean music. The bad part was that the music had to stop at 10 pm! There is no doubt that the interest for aspect-oriented programming (AOP) is growing dramatically. The good news is that the use-case driven development approach is a perfect fit with AOP. To make AOP successful, it needs a methodology. We have such a methodology. Still, it will take a few years before tools support this technology.

At the same conference Jaczone (www.jaczone.com) demonstrated WayPointer. WayPointer really got a lot of attention. All the time there were people waiting to get a demo. What is so exciting is that WayPointer makes process active and at the same time practically invisible. This is done, by using intelligent agents to support developers in the many micro-activities in software development.

Aspects and agents will be important complementary technologies for the next years to come. You should take the time to learn about them.  

Future of Process by Ivar Jacobson

August 15, 2003

I am currently in Lima, Peru where I have participated in an international conference and given a series of workshops.

This week started in New Orleans, where I gave a keynote at the XP Agile conference. I arrived late Sunday night but my XP friends were kindly waiting for me. Ward Cunningham, Bob Martin and Ron Jeffries were there. I had a great time with these people whom I respect very much. I have known Ward since 1987 and he is one of the few people who has moved technology into the masses with ideas such as CRC Cards, XP and also Wiki. Ron Jeffrey and I have been on a panel discussing light versus rich processes and we will be on another panel in October. We were missing Kent Beck (who arrived later) and my old personal friend Dave Thomas (who is on the advisory board of Jaczone).

I sympathize a lot with XP and agile methods. I have different opinions on some XP ideas, but in general I think XP is a good approach when exploring a new product. However, I think that XP doesn’t help you grow an organization. Therefore I want a process that can be as light as XP when you start a new initiative, but a process that can grow with the organization as you become successful. Well, I could talk a lot about that but not in this short postcard. My keynote was about the "Future of Process". The core message is that we talk too much about process instead of focusing on getting the job done. Instead we should rely on best practices of many kinds: technical, human, project, organizational etc. These best practices need to be well-defined, they need to be kept separate, but composable, and need to change as time goes by. Ideally the end-result should come across as an "Invisible Process". Here techniques like Waypointer developed by Jaczone will play a very important role.

Peru was very friendly, but the conference could have been better organized. I gave three presentations, I had about 200-400 people each time despite my talks being announced just 4 hours in advance of the actual talks. One challenge in Lima is that people in general don't speak English that well. Luckily, they found an excellent translator for me -- Elizabeth Ramirez Perasso, who has been studying my work for many years. I found that I have many fans in Peru. Thus I need to go back!

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