A perfect Saturday

About every 3 months team Edmundson electrical Scunthorpe play team Seymour and Castle Louth at Golf. In other words Dean and Chris from Edmundson play Buzz and myself. This Saturday it was at Tetney, with a special deal of coffee and bacon bun on arrival, a round of golf, then lunch all for £20 (fantastic). The weather was good, the company excellent (Dean kept us all laughing as usual) All together a good round, except we lost. This now ties the score at one match halved and 1 win each.

It’s a hard life being a athlete.

After lunch we sat in the bar watching the men’s cycle road race. (we do suffer for sport) Then back home to watch the Hungarian G.P. Qualifying.

Then shower and smarten up (a little bit), off to Buzz’s for a barbecue with good friends and some excellent food made and contributed by the guys.

A PERFECT SATURDAY

Golf quotes

Just a few of the great quotes from this years Open

“A divit big enough for the harvest festival”

“There is plenty of furniture in the bag to reach the green”

“If the wind gets up they will forced to take some timber”

A perfect Sunday

Buzz contacted me and asked if Wendy and I would like to go for a bike ride on Sunday. Lynda and Buzz are both good and experienced riders and have just got 2 new very nice touring bikes. So with a bit of trepidation I agreed (hoping battery power would compensate for our lack of ability and fitness)

They came around at 11.30 (a very civilised time) and we set off up the A16, turning up into the Wolds. Wendy and I riding battery bikes made it possible for us to ride along together. we rode thro Wold Newton to the http://www.clickem-inn.co.uk/ for lunch, sat outside in the sunshine. (I had a sausage sandwich with chips “yummy”)

On the way back there where 2 big hills. The first one just outside Binbrook, Wendy who was leading left me by 50yds and on the second she actually overtook me. (sorry guys I hang my head in shame) Then back down into Louth. a 25 mile round trip. (my longest bike ride for 48 years)

Our first stop was the Wheatsheaf (to quench our thirst !!)

Later on we all met up at our house to watch The Open Golf, The German Grand Prix and The Tour of France Followed by a meal with a few Drinks.

A PERFECT SUNDAY

Gas

Campers use bottled gas which is no problem at all in the U.K. Most have 2 bottles when one is empty you switch to the other and replace the empty one. Short trips to Europe is no problem as the bottles will last you. But the problem start on longer trips. Our camper uses gas for hob, oven, fridge/freezer, hot water and heating. When on a site with electric you only use gas for the hob, so therefore the gas usage will vary. But on average a full bottle lasts us about 40 / 50 nights though it can be as low as 10 nights if the heating is on 24/7

So on long trips it could be a problem, you can’t swap your English bottle for a continental one as the connections are all different (and they don’t want a Calor bottle) One way round this is to fit refillable
bottles

I fit the Gaslow bottles using stainless pipes (stops oil build up in appliances that you can get with rubber pipes). They are filled by driving along to you local garage that sells L.P.G. And topping them up.

There are a couple of little problems, L.P.G is a mixture of butane and propane and varies all over Europe and is not as hot as propane. Which means the kettle takes a little longer to boil (I can cope with that.) The main problem is there are a lot of different filler nozzles (what else could you expect in the European union) To overcome this you can buy adaptors for the different types of
fillers.

L.P.G. Is a lot cheaper than bottled gas. This last trip after 10 weeks away I stopped at a German garage, the pump had a choice of 2 nozzles (which made it easier) great, so I filled them up. It cost 24Euro (£20) not bad for 10 weeks gas.

Bikes

Well we have finally bought 2 bikes, I think we must have been the only camper people in Europe without 2 bikes sat on the back. We searched on the internet then from a friend we herd there was a company near
Lincolnwho made and supplied electric bikes (yes that’s right the ones with battery’s for old codgers). the company is http://www.batribike.com/ So off we went, met the owner he suggested a 4 mile test ride (i thought I cant ride 4 miles) he reminded us that they are electric assisted and it would be easy, it was Wendy had a Dutch step through, and I had a city/mountain.

We had bought a Thule tow bar mounted rack so we could take them on the camper or car, this works fantastic and you cant tell its on the back

we have one problem Wendy is left handed so can’t take that hand off the handlebars. Hence she can only signal with her right arm (I am now getting fed up of going round in clockwise circles)

Flightsocks

Watching the athletics last night I noticed all the long jumpers were wearing flight socks, is this because “they jump into the air”

huile delin

The French use linseed oil a lot, so when we moved into this house and took the lounge ceiling out, I bought some pitch pine beams from a friend of Sandra and Brian in Yorkshire. These were rough cut so I sanded them up and oiled them with linseed. Now 4 years later I decided to give them another coat they came up fantastic,” its a great oil”

XPages review

Here at LDC towers we are quite a diverse bunch each member taking a primary role in a few technologies and then acting as secondary and tertiary to other members to back them up when needed, with people like Matt White and Ben Poole in the team handling the bulk of the
XPage work, my Primary UI skills were Spring web/view/mvc and Flex (as well as the classic domino we all still know like the back of our hands).

During this time I kept up on XPages by watching Matt’s videos on XPages101.net and following the rest of the blog spheres posts, but quite frankly demand has outstripped supply and now im Xpageing in anger so I figured a review on XPages was due for any body else who is late to the show ( I know you lot, some of you are still not doing proper Java in your apps!!!).

Sooo…what do I think?

Well frankly I like it, you produce really nice apps chock full of functionally, cleanly and at break neck speed, the only real hurdle is how you approach the development cycle and this depends on your point of view:

From a classic Domino persons point of view, XPages are not another component like pages or Navigators (remember them), they don’t work that way, think of XPages as a separate product that you have installed in your domino designer and server that provides you with a whole new layer of features, I found that it was easiest if I thought of them as an IBM plug in to the Classic Lotus product (which helped me resolve some of the integration miss matches and different ways of doing things).

From a none Domino person point of view: IBM have written another implementation of JSF (just like Spring Faces) and have glued it to a Legacy NoSQL database with integrated security and dedicated server platform to enable that platform to serve up content in an up-to-date form (just like they did with the HTTP task in 4.6).

Once you have your point of view and get down to writing code, you will find you don’t actually write XPages, they are just the final container, you actually write custom controls and then plug them into the relevant Xpage when you’re ready, like little UI and code modules sitting in a hierarchy (a bit like Spring MVC ) , understanding this is the corner stone to not tripping your self up. On the designer its self it’s obvious that the framework architects have been given considerably more time to get their sh*t together than the IDE designers and there is a lot of “you need to do that in the source view” or “change that in the ‘All properties’ section” , if you cant figure out how to do something, don’t worry they WILL have catered for it, it just wont be in the designer UI yet.

Lists are easyer to read than chunks of text so here are the good and bads of XPages as I see them.

Goods

  • SSJS (server side java script): I love this, all the power of JavaScript running nice and securely at the back end with nearly all the functionally of @fomula’s added to it (makes me want to go of and learn node.js).
  • Flexible: unlike other modern JSF/JSP frameworks, XPages thankfully inherits its ‘classic’ ancestors ability to be completely adaptable to what you want, which is a breath of fresh air from Spring in which you are basicly told “we know what’s best, so you cant do that”.
  • The Security is still there, its still far easier that other frameworks to do good security and it inherits well from classic (though not perfectly).
  • Expandability and plug-ins : IBM have gone with a constant upgrade path in which they develop add-ons which are released to the community as plug-ins which in turn will eventually get rolled into the main product ( the best example being the “XPages Extension Library” ) , giving you a nice balance of speed and supportability (thumbs up).

    Bads

  • SSJS: Its not ECMA complaint and I’ve already hit a few WTF moments when coding functions, also debugging is not the friendliest and please for the love of all that’s holy can I have a auto format key-shortcut.
  • Still a fair amount of hacking: there is quite a lot of “how how the hell do I do that” then performing some strange convoluted action for dealing with simple problems , the old domino people are used to it but I can imagine it being a real head scratcher for new people.
  • It has that IBM “I’m still slightly a prototype” feel about it, with a lot of IBM products you have the feeling they went “cool it works, ship it” while gently bypassing testing, now I know they are really trying (I got a tweet reply to me bitching about an error in about 30 mins) but still its an ongoing process.
  • The IDE is slow and hates to share with other developers at the same time (turn off automatic build), now I use plain eclipse most of the time as well as Adobe Flash builder and for my sins IBM RAD and all of them are faster than 8.5.3.

    All in all, what with the Xwork server, if you can get a client to ignore the “lotus” memory then we have a real contender on our hands, I am building apps at the same speed (if not faster) as I used to with classic domino but they are easy to make look really good, are technologically up to date, and built with a great deal less hastle than with something like Spring, IBM just need to clean up the rough edges and convince us they are not going to dump the whole thing for pure connections.

Old Comments

Mark Barton(09/07/2012 09:35:35 GDT)

Thanks Mark some good stuff there and some valid points.

Lets hope IBM listen about the grumblings about DDE, I can’t imagine new developers would adopt it out of choice.

Would be interesting to see some best practice design patterns with regards to where the business logic for a component sits. Java over SSJS?

We both know it makes no sense to put all of your eggs in one basket with regards to technology and any client side developer worth there salt will be keeping up with the trends.

Jason Hook(09/07/2012 10:11:57 GDT)

My first project was a steep learning curve even having Java and JSP experience.

Now in later projects I’m leveraging an awesome amount of business logic I wrote in managed beans in that first project. Because of this my speed of development is rapidly increasing.

I completely agree with your sentiments on DDE. We deserve a much better IDE. There are plenty of great IDE’s: Visual Studio, CODA, Flux4. I feel that once you’re up and running with XPages a decent text editor with solid code complete might be better than DDE.

Managed beans are great! It means you are writing Java but frankly on the level that most of us need that’s not so hard. Must write down a tip or two on using them.

Scoped variables & being able to maintain state!

Geeks that build software for geeks, that’s IBM for me. Things always have that complicated & not quite finished feel, and then here comes the next shiny thing.

I know that Connections is the current big shiny thing but some of us work for small to medium sized enterprises that can’t justify that kind of spend. So to continue to maintain and grown market share in that space I expect that they (IBM):

Will continue to support & articulate clearly the future direction of XPages and XWorks;

Will focus on marketing the product so that it looks new and shiny for the next generation of IT Managers that will be buying the product;

Will reach out to Developers and Administrators to help the get the most out of the innovations they are making, rather than developing stuff and waiting for us to make sense of it. LUG’s seem like the perfect opportunity to do that.

I deliberately made those items sound more positive because they need the encouragement. I’ve invested huge amounts of time acquiring skills and I want IBM to match that commitment we are all making.

Must get back to work (writing the next application with XPages)!

Mark(09/07/2012 10:28:56 GDT)

bleeding heck Mr Hook that comment is longer than the post, thanks for putting the effort in, looks to check on after reading it

Mark: yes some standards would be a good idea.

Keith Strickland(09/07/2012 15:23:47 GDT)

“XPages are not another component like pages or Navigators (remember them), they dont work that way, think of XPages as a separate product that you have installed in your domino designer and server that provides you with a whole new layer of features”

That statement is key in clearing your mind of all the old Lotus Domino hacks we used to have to incorporate just to get a simple feature to work on the web. I’ve been saying this for a while now, XPages are not another design element, it is a new platform all together. The sooner someone accepts this the sooner they will start becoming productive with XPage development.

Mark(10/07/2012 05:49:11 GDT)

@keith yup yup

Mark(10/07/2012 12:37:53 GDT)

@michael one of the things i gauge DDEs speed against is how long it takes before I can code, rather than mealy open the app, that’s where DDE seems to suffer, YES my apps are nearly always on a server, but if its for a none XPage fix, I can normally open R7.0.4 do a minor fix and shut down, before 8.5.3 has got its knickers sorted out

Michael Bourak(10/07/2012 10:48:06 GDT)

Agree with much… but DDE slow is a mystery for me. On my laptop, 5 years old, 4Go Ram though, it’s fast…at least MUCH MUCH faster than RAD for exemple.

Are you sure you disabled automatic compilation ? Are you running against a server via a low end bandwith ?

On the same subject, I often see people complain about DDE stability. ON my laptop, it crashed maybe…5 times in 6 months of daily usage…

Michael Bourak(10/07/2012 13:12:21 GDT)

The majority of “wait time” is due to Java tools initializing (eclipse stuff) and time to get the project from network…

In 8.5.4 there is a new feature coming that will help keep DDE open and not relaunch / close it…(not sure I can say more…but I use it via beta version and like it a lot)

Ben Poole(10/07/2012 20:40:08 GDT)

The Java tooling in Eclipse does take time, but DDE still has its own pain points. I’ve found that there are a few things that make it faster:

1. Turn off automatic builds
2. Increase default JVM heap / max heap sizes
3. Ensure the host machine / VM has plenty of RAM

It’s still extremely slow compared with proper IDEs though

Michael Bourak(11/07/2012 09:09:33 GDT)

@Ben : running DDE or any disk intensive software inside a VM will suffer a lot from poor virtualisation disk performances…

Can you give sample of “proper IDE” ? If you mean notepad++, sure

On which OS are you running DDE ? What’s your config ?

Mark(11/07/2012 08:41:18 GDT)

@michael looking forward to 8.5.4!

@Ben yup, I took your advise on those bit a while back and it has helped a lot

Ben Poole(25/07/2012 22:33:01 GDT)

running DDE or any disk intensive software inside a VM will suffer a lot from poor virtualisation disk performances

Pish!

Re OS, you can run DDE on Win7 (64 bit), Win7 (32 bit) and WinXP. Doesn’t matter, it will still be slow.

As for “proper” IDEs, there are a few out there:

– Visual Studio
– Eclipse (vanilla)
– Netbeans

but yes, generally my preference is for the simpler tools like Coda 2 and Sublime Text 2.

Decisions

It has been a great weekend Lynda and Buzz arranged to have a weekend with us in Stamford. After having a walk around a part of Rutland water and having lunch at a pub, we got very wet on the way back to the
car.

But the highlight of the weekend was going to The George of Stamford.

Drinks and canape in the bar.

Then off into the York dining room for a fantastic meal.

We would like to thank Lynda and Buzz for there generosity and good company, it was a night to remember. (sounds like a song) Buzz definitively was the best business partner I could of ever had and a great friend.

Decisions

On our way home we stopped at Waitrose for groceries to stock the house again. Well all the decisions, do i get Birdseye fish fingers or Youngs fish fingers or Waitrose fish fingers. It is absolutely exhausting, you finally get through the checkout. Then you are given a green token to put in a charity box, but then again BIG DECISION what box do i put it in!!!

No wonder I drink.

40th wedding anniversary

Instead of just doing something special for our 40th wedding anniversary on Tuesday (Wendy was a child bride) we decided to treat ourselves while in Bristol (instead of the sparse life we have lead over the last 3 months!!) Tuesday lunch we went to our favorite pub/restaurant the “The Pump House” The food is fantastic, they actually sell the bread and chutneys the chef makes.

Wednesday lunch we walked up to the Clifton suspension bridge, then into Jamies Italian for a very nice, what the menu calls a sampler feast.

Thursday, a quick march along to M & S’s food hall, then staggered back to the “Cottage Inn” which is next door to the site, for lunch.

Thursday evening we decided to eat at a waterside bar beside the theatre. It ended up being very enjoyable, there was a charity fancy dress event in Bristol and all the uni students were out.

I think these girls wanted to take me home (well any one can dream)

Midnight Tango, is different from what we would class as a show, it is purely dance no talking at all It was set in a South American bar with 2 men dancing for the attention of one woman. the 2 bar owners added comedy into the show.Vincent and Flavias dancing was fantastic and the live music very good.

Update

After leaving the ferry we went to Maidstone caravan club site via the railway station where we picked up Mark. It was great to see him and he stayed the night with us. (ear plugs were supplied so he could get some sleep)

It was a bit like xmas he brought a present of books, Wendys birthday presents, a anniversary present, a fathers day present and also a wi-fi booster Ariel kit so i can pick up wi-fi on sites in the camper instead of standing in receptions or sitting in busy bars. (any how i just love things with plugs on)

After dropping Mark off at the station we ended up on a certified location at
Newbury (a farm field)