What's your definition of a pragmatic architecture?
Ted Neward: A lot of times "architecture" is used to describe what happens when all of our Web servers are hooked together in a gigantic ESB, [for example]. That, for many projects, is so far down road. A lot of companies are looking to create a Web service to enable two different components or systems to communicate with one another, and there's an architectural element there, but there are a lot of things you can talk about at a more tactical level rather than a grand strategic level. What I'm trying to do is give people a manual of tactics for architecting a project or a couple of closely related projects … to create almost a periodic table of elements for software—so within a software architecture what are the major parts? In the early day of Web services [people] ended up building these subscriber systems where any component can ask for updates, but as the number of subscribers went up, the amount of time to do notification went up, as opposed to a more broadcast-style transport. These are the kinds of things I want people to think about, and say "OK, for the next project I need to build a component that does this, and here are some of the elements involved," and that should drive the direction the architecture should go.
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What do Java programmers need to know about a new programming language called Scala?
Neward: Scala is an important language from two perspectives. Number one, it represents some new ideas that a lot programmers haven't seen, which is to say, how do I program in the functional mindset, how do I program with functions as first-class citizens. In that respect alone Scala will change your mind, to give you some new models for abstraction to make your system easier to understand fundamentally.
What are the most significant one or two things that happened in the Java community last year?
Neward: The Oracle acquisition of Sun is by far and away most important. That is potentially the comet plunging into the planet's surface, and I don't mean that as a disaster scenario. In many respects [Sun was] a little too focused on the community part and not enough on how do we make money and make sure this environment remains a viable environment. The Java community has gotten spoiled by the idea that everything should be free. Oracle is not going to fly with that. They're willing to give stuff away as long as they can find a way to make money. Oracle will make sure they commoditize Java, in some cases at the expense of the community, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I think Oracle can be very good, but we'll have to see.
What development trends are you watching for this year?
Neward: For years the small device market has been saying this will be the year, and Java has always been at the center of that because it was designed for small devices. I think this will be the year where we see a lot of mobile innovation, but ironically I don't think we'll see it in the Java space. I think the Java mobile community—Android and what not—will be doing a tremendous amount to catch up with some of the things that have been going on in the iPhone space. But Google in particular has some things they need to do; they need to make it more consistent in terms of releases and when they're coming. At a certain point Google will have to think of this as a business rather than what happens when engineers run wild. Android may be the platform that forces them to start thinking about this as a business rather than just an engineering problem.