[web-team] Secrets of the Linux Developers Elite

John Papageorge john at mediaoverdrive.com
Mon Mar 24 08:53:26 PST 2003

Hi there,

This is John Papageorge. I write for IBM's DEVELOPERWORKS SECTION at

I would be interested in mailing out to your Linux community the fact that I
am writing a series for IBM called Secrets of the Linux Developers Elite

This series starts ASAP!

This is what I request of Linux Developers interested in participating in
this series.

Please give me a bio and background on the company. Please dig deep into
detail and I also need a sidebar of code from a recent application with a
few breakout points identifying what's going on at different places in the

Below are the questions to be answered with an example profile on developer
Derrick Bell. Please give me a call when you receive this so that I know you
are cool with everything.

This will provide international publicity for the Linux Developers and their

Warm Regards,

John Papageorge

1) what are the tools you use as a Linux developer

2) how did you get into Linux development and what is your background.

3) what is your secret Linux weapon?

4) what should every Linux developer know

5) what should every Linux developer avoid

6) what are the challenges every Linux developer faces

7) What is your greatest success as a Linux developer

7a) Please present code from a successful Linux application.

8) What is worst failure?

9) Do you have sidebar code of a Linux app that you've created.

10) Do you have an example of a killer Linux ap and can you explain why
it's so killer? 

11) What applications are you and your company working on right now.

12) What Linux applications are prevailing in the market right now? Please
list examples of successful applications that take advantage of Linux'

13) What is your perspective on the future of Linux applications.

14) Please include some "How to" code sample of how to create or complete
some Linux development component.

Warm Regards,

John Papageorge

>> -------------------------------------
>> By John Papageorge
>> Derrick Bell is the man with the XML software plan. Bell is the system
>> architect at The SoftAd Group, a company that develops e-business software
>> products that enable manufacturers and distributors of goods and services
> to
>> facilitate product discovery and loyalty between-and across-multiple
>> distribution channels. Did that mission statement sound fancy? The point
> is
>> that Bell has created some very successful e-commerce products, such as
>> ChannelNet, that benefit from using XML as the core technology.
>> Although ChannelNet was used to primarily separate style from content and
>> manage the exchange of information from outside systems, Bell believes
> that
>> the strategic use of XML's advanced technology was what drove ChannelNet's
>> scalability and functionality. The ChannelNet product was based on open
>> standards, a modular design, advanced rule engine technology and a
>> microsite-builder function combined to create a product to meet the
>> e-business needs of the enterprise, however complex or simple.
>> Bell has been working with computers for 20 years, starting off
> programming
>> in BASIC, moving on to dBase and Clipper development, then graphic design,
>> web application design, and site topology design. Bell has been writing
> and
>> designing code in JAVA, C, C++, VB, SQL and XML languages.  He is also
> quick
>> to point out that he has been using XML since its introduction.
>> "I have been concentrating most of my efforts in building distributed web
>> applications that feature e-Commerce and B2B, B2C, C2C transactions with
>> Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), Active Server Pages (ASP),
> COM,
>> COM+, XML, XSLT, SQL Server, Site Server 3.0, and streaming media,"
> explains
>> Bell. "Effective and efficient coding is my ultimate goal, and I try to
>> bring the power of XML and XSLT technology to play in any aspect of the
> web
>> applications, including SQL, ASP, Active Directory, COM+, and Windows
>> Scripting Host environments."
>> XML developers can learn from Bell's successful track record of using XML
> to
>> give his products the robust set of features needed to please business
>> customers by offering them a great software solution.  Bell is the example
>> of an XML software developer who uses technology to create products that
>> aggressively fit a market need.
>> Derrick Bell's Tool Box
>> XMLSpy
>> TIBCO Extensibility
>> MSXML Parser 3.x and later
>> BizTalk Server
>> SQLServer2000
>> What is your secret xml weapon?
>> Bell claims that his his best kept secret weapon is primarily XMLSpy.
> XMLSpy
>> is a premier Integrated Development Environment for the eXtensible Markup
>> Language that includes all major aspects of XML in one powerful and
>> easy-to-use product.
>> "XMLSpy is extremely flexible," insists Bell. "It handles XML, XSL, XSLT,
>> DTD, XSD, and ASP files. You can view these files in a color coded text,
> or
>> in a table or a tree view. XMLSpy also has a document editor that allows
> you
>> to see an XML file as tranformed by and XSL file. I've been using XMLSpy
>> since v2.5 and they have become dramatically more robust. Most times I use
>> the editor like I would notepad, but the table view has really sped up the
>> process of removing specific segments of XML from a file."
>> What should every xml developer know?
>> Bell suggests that developers should keep in mind that XML focuses on
>> information rather than presentation. "XML is not a page layout or
> graphics
>> language, it focuses entirely on the definition of meta data...XML
> replaces
>> proprietary extensions to HTML," claims Bell. "XML has the capability to
>> easily define new tags, hence the reason why the language is called
>> "extensible". Many examples of new markup languages exist that demonstrate
>> XML's capability, XSLT, VML and others."  In addition to XML's ability to
>> add semantics to the web through metadata, Bell points out that XML is
>> completely general and cafefully formalized to assure interoperability and
>> machine readability.
>> Bell is also a big fan of XML Schemas (Description of document type's
>> structure (its `schema')) and believes these schemas should be in an XML
>> document instead of written with its own special syntax (DTD). Bell
> believes
>> this to be true because Schema are in XML, easier to edit, process, and
>> integrate with document using standard XML DOM manipulation tools. By
>> comparison, Bell insists that DTD notation doesn't allow schema designers
>> the power to impose strong data typing -- for example, the ability to say
>> that a certain element type must always have a positive integer value,
> that
>> it may not be empty, or that it must be one of a list of possible choices.
>> What should every xml developer avoid?
>> Don't use XML for searching, commands Bell. Bell says that XML in it's
>> nature creates flat files that are not well suited for searching . "XML's
>> searching mechanisms require that the whole document be parsed to locate a
>> single piece of information," offers Bell. "Complex searches using the DOM
>> and SAX can be difficult to implement."
>> In addition, Bell believes developers shouldn't us XML for summarization.
>> Summarizing information in XML is very inefficient. XPath is not robust
>> enough to perform aggregations. Summarization compounds XML's other
>> shortcoming searching, since lifting summary information from a collection
>> of XML documents would be difficult.
>> Bell suggests that developers follow Kevin Williams advice on how to avoid
>> some common mistakes that even smart architects make when designing an XML
>> solution. See
>> http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/xml/library/x-xdtips.html
>> Bell also warns XML developers to plan their XML grammar carefully.
>> Conversion to XML is not like converting from graphics or desktop
> publishing
>> formats. When converting to XML, establish a target XML vocabulary and
>> decide on what structure and meaning in your content must be captured. XML
>> is not a set of specific elements--it is a meta language that gives you
> the
>> ability to craft your own set of elements-your own vocabulary.
>> A helpful guide for designing the informational structure of your XML is
>> http://www.xmlpatterns.com. "XMLPatterns has really helped me get a handle
>> on the conceptual structure of data," confesses Bell. "Selecting the wrong
>> xml structure for your application can cause a needless amount of coding
> for
>> you application."
>> What are the challenges every xml developer faces?
>> XML is not the saviour of the universe, puffs Bell. "It's just another to
>> tool amoung others that helps to manage the vast qualtity of information
> we
>> process to transact business," he adds.
>> "XML is not a one-size-fits-all programming language," Bell continues.
> "Many
>> people attempt to use XML for everything.
>> XML is important because of its ability to act as a standard method of
>> exchanging information between processes. I would not use XML to store
> some
>> forms of data where efficency is paramount, like games."
>> What is your greatest success as a xml developer?
>> Bell insists using XML in the SoftAd ChannelNet product to separate style
>> from content was --to the point--a very successful use of XML. "The
>> flexibility that XML and XSLT offers has facilitated custom solutions for
>> SoftAd customers," Bell demands.
>> Through its extensive use of XML technology, ChannelNet is designed to
>> easily interface with the enterprise's mission-critical buy-side, ERP and
>> knowledge management applications, claims Bell.
>> The ChannelNet e-business platform is designed to link the enterprise to
>> its channel partners, providing product discovery, needs based selling,
>> decision support and repeat purchase opportunities. It also provides the
>> technology to allow the enterprise and channel partners to interact
> directly
>> with commercial or consumer end-users.
>> The ChannelNet platform is modular, with each module supporting an
> important
>> function of the e-business process, such as assessing the customer's
> needs,
>> facilitating promotions, comparing products and completing transactions.
>> In addition, the platform can simply and economically create highly
>> functional microsites for channel partners, leveraging content from the
>> enterprise site to establish consistency in brand and product presentation
>> at all customer-facing touch points. This does not require programming or
>> design capabilities of the channel partner.
>> What is worst failure?
>> "While not really a crash and burn failure...my worst problem is living
> with
>> the XML grammar I've designed," admits Bell.  "What seemed easy and
>> simplistic at first, has quickly become tough to work around. XML is a
>> foundation piece, the vocabulary you develop should cafefully considered.
>> Work that is based on that XML will have to be reworked in you decide to
>> alter the structure of your XML later."
>> Bell continues, "While not a direct example following XML can describe how
>> starting with the wrong XML can be a problem. Our team wrote some code
> that
>> models the content in an LDAP store. So it made sense at the time to name
>> all the like LDAP containers. Well later when we subsequently decided that
>> we didn't want to use LDAP anymore, but still wanted to use the XML file.
> We
>> were forced to continue to think of the file like LDAP containers as
> opposed
>> to a more simplistic model.
>> ---A specific example of a product you were working on where this applied
>> would be great."
>> What is your killer xml ap and why is it so killer?
>> XML technology is at the core of the product ChannelNet. Check out
>> http://www.softad.com/brochure/ChannelNetBrochure.pdf  for more info. Bell
>> believes ChannelNet is a killer ap because it gives business clients a
>> solution that is very flexible, highly automated and--best of all--easy
> and
>> simple maintenance. Considering that SoftAD has created more than 1,000
>> sell-side solutions for 250-plus clients in 13 languages, providing
>> everything from initial strategy to creative direction---the
> aforementioned
>> qualities are especially critical.
>> Here is a breakdown of the defining components of the ChannelNet product:
>> Open Standards
>> The rich functionality of ChannelNet is accomplished with the use of an
> open
>> and extensible architecture, supported by published application program
>> interfaces (APIs) and standard interchange formats, offers Bell. Built
> using
>> XML technologies, ChannelNet makes it possible to isolate business logic
>> from the presentation layer and back-end systems, as well as integrate and
>> unify data from different sources through a standard interface. This
>> provides fast and simple deployment and maintenance. Open standards also
>> support easy integration with custom applications and plug-ins.
>> Modular Architecture
>> ChannelNet is offered as a series of modules, giving the enterprise the
>> flexibility of upgrades and forward compatibility. Bell says that a common
>> Foundation provides the infrastructure and services required for the
> modules
>> to operate. Different combinations of the modules can be implemented
>> depending on the enterprise's needs.
>> Rule Engine
>> Powered by a rule engine that enables automated reasoning, ChannelNet
>> dynamically controls the processing of intelligent interactions with
>> customers, clams Bell. Needs assessments, product configurations and
>> promotions are delivered via this artificial intelligence technology.
>> Client-side rules govern the interface and navigation; server-side rules
>> interpret and respond appropriately to the actions of end-users. With this
>> rule engine technology, customers are presented with relevant responses at
>> each step.
>> Site Builder Functionality
>> ChannelNet's Site Builder technology
> creates
>> unlimited microsites for channel partners that replicate the
>> rich content and functionality of the
>> enterprise site.
>> Combined with the platform's rule engine,
> Site
>> Builder also delivers consultative selling and product
>> discovery processes via automated reasoning
>> technology
>> at the channel partner level.
>> Bell knows that great products start with
>> understanding your customers' need, defining your product specs and
> knowing
>> the flexibility that XML can bring to creating robust software solutions.
>> Understand this blueprint for success, insists Bell. As an XML developer,
>> Bell is proof that a little XML can go a long way.
>> XML Links to follow:

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