Posts Tagged ‘enterprise’

IT employers: have your staff buy IT books!

mars 31, 2011 1 commentaire

Well, all is in the title…

Still, it really matters. Not all software developers can be self taught. Neither do they all necessarily like everything they work with. Neither is it always possible for all software developers to buy 3 books a quarter.

I don’t really know if I’ve to go over all the advantages of books… Quickly said, I guess just clicking on the book tag on the right here should provide most of the answers and make obvious the added values of books.

And there are some less obvious advantages, more « work wise » ones:

  • books fit very well with one of our modern time habits: commuting. Really: it makes self improvement possible for people having almost no other free time in the day.
  • books which wouldn’t have been necessarily bought end up being read and useful… Crazy 😉
  • overall quality of the staff work is bound to rise. Which generally improves employees self esteem and work satisfaction.
  • the whole staff feels valued and grateful, for something like a few hundred bucks per quarter (200€ can already buy quite some books !). Way less than a pay rise. And most likely it can be reduced from some taxes. So the cost is really low.

All of this post might seem obvious for some or even most of the readers, I really don’t know.

However, for me, this wasn’t the case: my current employer is the first one to have a « book budget » which can be spend on any IT book. It doesn’t have to be strictly work related, IT related is enough. It doesn’t have to fit why what the boss would currently read. No, it just has to please one of us. And, for sure, if the book is good, other might well end up reading it as well, or at least being directed to it when having related questions. Really great and helpful.

The freedom we’re granted there is, I think, fundamental to the whole story. It’s again on the « self empowerment » side of the story. Team members aren’t irresponsible subordinates, no, they have (loosely coupled) work related interests which matters enough the company. Very nice isn’t it?

That was lurking in my mind since a while, it’s now out, I can go back to normal life 😉


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Book: Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture

I have a hate/love relationship with IT books. Really. On one hand, I love to read them. On the other, when they’re good enough, I feel compelled to blog about them. And it bugs me so much I’ve to do it before being totally free for some other books. As such, let’s speak of Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture, by Martin Fowler.

As said in the title, the book is all about enterprise patterns and actually does it very well. Indeed, crazily enough, there’s more in IT than just the Gang of Four patterns… Stuff like optimistic (offline) locking, the Active Record pattern, Gateway and way more.

The book is divided in 2 parts: first Martin walks over what he calls « The Narratives ». There the stage is set, and the general issues are introduced for the reader to get a proper overview and understanding. Layering, mapping aspects, transactions isolation levels, ACID implications, session, remoting… All these concepts are nicely put together.

Then each pattern is seen in details: how it works, when to use it and some examples (mostly in Java, but C# and maybe some others are also covered). The presentations are well done, presenting pros and cons as well as the various way to implement each of the patterns.

The book shows hardly its age, having been written in 2002. For example, Dependency Injection isn’t spoken of. Similarly, at the time, XML was fancy, so Martin Fowler speaks of it several times, which is funny in retrospective. Still, most of the patterns are still relevant and are important to know, so it doesn’t matter.

In the end, I wish I had read this book (or learned its content) when doing my Computer Science Degree. Indeed, since, I’ve come to know them, but it’s really because I’m interested in the topic. Yet they are of the uttermost importance for anyone in the field. They should be basic knowledge, in order to have a better understanding of the problems at hand, communicate properly between practitioners of the art and not reinventing the wheel .

Furthermore, the extensive coverage of the book should still teach some stuff to most of us.

For example, Kent Beck at some point speaks of remote computing, saying that remote interfaces tend to be coarse grained, whereas local ones are fine grained. Indeed, when going over the network one wants to have as few calls as possible, whereas locally one wants clear intentions and fine control. While obvious, I wasn’t so aware that one interface would be at pain to serve both purposes.

I also loved Martin Fowler First Law of Distributed Object Design: Don’t distribute your objects!

Still, I’m only scratching the surface of this 500+ pages. Martin Fowler was nice enough to provide an online Catalog of Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture, which should help to get a better view of the book’s content. Since the book publication, a new pattern was also made available online, the Domain Event concept, which is worth looking at.

One more thing: the book is part of the « Martin Fowler Signature Book » series, and thus has a proper hard cover and a nice red bookmark fabric. Cosy and very useful 🙂

To sum up, very nice book to get quite some overview of the general concepts at play in enterprise architecture. Almost a must read actually.

I stop here otherwise I fear I’ll write more than there’s in the book 😉


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