Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Derek Weeks, Mano Marks, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Java IoT, Machine Learning

Java IoT: Article

How to Go from Geek to Manager

You've got the job now what do you do?

You're six-feet, 190 pounds and can type System.out.println faster than most people can say AJAX. You're a person who dreams about the Milwaukee Brewers winning the World Series and the correct data structure to be used when talking about a baseball player. You've spent five years of your life writing Java code and leading Java development teams. You consider yourself an expert in Swing, Struts, XML, and XSL-FO and feel comfortable talking about any other buzzword in the Java world such as JSF, Portal, and AJAX. You've had experience as development lead on a team with anywhere from three to seven people where Java applications were rolled into production well within the scheduled deadline. Now you have received a management position on an internal Java development team. Where do you start? What things do you look at from day one? What's your role going to be as a manager? What would you like to see happen within your team? Do you want to keep your technical skills? How do you rate your employees at the end of the year?

These are just some of the question's that you'll have to answer.

Fortunately, I'm the Brewers fan who just got a new first-line management position. The team that I'm managing consists of 18 employees with skillsets ranging from Java Swing development to J2EE Web development. The main point of our existence is to create, support, fix and build tools inside IBM for a number of platforms. A number of small tools have already been developed that use Swing technology for the front-end. The small tools end up communicating with DB2 systems on the back-end and start a number of native back-end processes depending on the back-end servers' platform. The team has also created a Web application that lets internal developers create a fix pack of a particular product. These are examples of just a couple of the many Java tools that my department is responsible for.

Now back to the questions at hand. Where does a manager start when taking over a Java development team? These are just a couple of the things that concerned me when coming in as manager of a Java development team.

Who's Doing What?
Every manager has to understand what the main responsibility of the team is. Once that's understood then the next question to answer is, who is working on achieving that goal. What positions have been defined in the department to carry out the team's primary responsibility? For instance, do you have developers working on a single application from the beginning to end or do you have each software development process task broken down among different employees. Once you understand the tasks that everyone is working on, does it matter how they're done? For example, the team that I'm managing has application owners who are responsible for the entire development process lifecycle for a particular application. An application owner would have to gather the new requirements that come in, create a design that fits into the existing application design, develop, unit test, and do the production test. And if an external customer discovers a problem with the tool it's their responsibility to fix it.

Some things I've heard from the group is that testing all our small tools is quite expensive. Every small tool is dependent on each other. New functionality added to one of them may have an impact on another, thus causing all application owners to test their code before it's released.

From a resource perspective this really scares me. You wouldn't like your most experienced developers spending a lot of time on testing. Some would disagree with me on this and say that this person has the application domain experience and should be involved in production testing. However, I feel that testing something like this should be documented in a test plan and tested by a separate group. Test cases could be written by this separate group cross-referencing the requirements. That way a different set of eyes could manually test the application outside of the application owners who should only do unit testing.

Is There a Development Process?
As the manager of any software department I would hope so. Hardcore software developers hate processes. I know this from past experience. When I was given an assignment, I wanted to complete it as fast as I could by writing code. If you wanted to know my progress all you had to do was ask. I felt the information in my head was sufficient. However, this kind of thinking makes things very hard when working on a team that's larger than one person. Information has to be communicated from one person to another. The memory of what someone said lasts only so long. Having documentation helps remind an employee of what's required. It helps for reviews and lets an employee hand his work off if something happens and he's pulled from the project.

Without a development process it's even harder to rate employee performance. Who is your best designer? Who is your best coder? By defining a development process, the strengths and weaknesses of each employee can be measured at particular stages of the development process. Running a tool suite that does metrics throughout a development process can be used to measure performance. Tracking and monitoring this kind of information will also help you understand the task force needed for a particular project. For instance, if a manager knows how long it took for an application to be finished with a particular number of employees, it makes it easier to estimate how long it will take those employees on the next project.

The team that I've inherited has an ad hoc development process. There's no standardized format of what's required in each development phase. For instance, Team A could have a requirements document that looks different from Team B's requirements document. Does something like this need to be standardized throughout the development process? Some would argue that as long as there's documentation for each development stage it shouldn't matter. They'd also argue that the format of each document should be up to the project lead. However, if you have employees switching from one team to another, this may become an issue. It may take an employee some time to understand a format that's different from what they used in a prior project. From a management perspective it's always nice to standardize the format in a tool that can run some kind of metrics. For example, if a requirements document is submitted with a tool, metrics could be run on how good the document actually is. When a review is held for the requirements document, the number of problems found in the requirements document could be traced and analyzed by a manager. This could be a perfect way to isolate the employees who have strong requirements-gathering skills. As a manager, I feel it's a priority to make sure our development team has a standardized format for all development process milestones.

Are Swing Applications Old?
First of all why would a manager even care about Swing applications? As long as the development lead knows when to change from Swing to a more Web-centric application, why should a manager even care? The reason I ask this is that you have to remember I come from a technical background. I feel that if a strategic decision has to be made on which technology we should use, I'd like to be part of it. If I were the type of manager who thought Swing was something for my two-year-old son then of course you wouldn't want me in the discussion at all.

We have a number of Swing-based applications that are used by our internal customers and by administration. The Swing-based applications follow a fix process required by every internal developer who wants to create a fix. This fix process is very complicated and requires an internal developer to run a number of the Swing applications so a fix can be created, tested and deployed to external customers. There have been a number of developers who have implemented additional functionality within the Swing applications. Over time, this has made some of the code hard to read. There is logic that is duplicated because a developer was not aware of particular methods that already existed. There are also a number of classes that were implemented that do not fit within the old design because of the changing functionality. Instead of enhancing the old design, now a new design and old design exist within the application. This, of course, has nothing to do with the debate over whether Swing-based applications are old but does create additional work if you were to migrate the applications from Swing to a Web-based tool. Time would have to be spent to understand the differences between the old design and new design. Eventually, a design bringing both of them together would have to be created.


More Stories By Benjamin Garbers

Ben Garbers is currently a 1st line manager at IBM where the department he
manages creates and maintains Java standalone applications and dynamic Java
web applications run on Websphere. Before his management position he was
the lead developer on a number of teams that developed standalone Java
applications.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Thomas Yung 09/20/06 10:21:49 AM EDT

Added trackback.

Thomas Yung 09/20/06 09:54:22 AM EDT

Great article Ben! Don't get bothered by the last person's comment. Simple is the best way to express things. No need to overcomplicate things.

NAVPREET SINGH 08/18/06 11:09:05 PM EDT

Can't understand what's the point of this article? If written any better, this could have been a mediocre article for a school magazine level - I honestly lost some respect for your magazine with this.....

AJAX News Desk 07/28/06 06:18:18 PM EDT

You're six-feet, 190 pounds and can type System.out.println faster than most people can say AJAX. You're a person who dreams about the Milwaukee Brewers winning the World Series and the correct data structure to be used when talking about a baseball player. You've spent five years of your life writing Java code and leading Java development teams. You consider yourself an expert in Swing, Struts, XML, and XSL-FO and feel comfortable talking about any other buzzword in the Java world such as JSF, Portal, and AJAX. You've had experience as development lead on a team with anywhere from three to seven people where Java applications were rolled into production well within the scheduled deadline. Now you have received a management position on an internal Java development team. Where do you start? What things do you look at from day one? What's your role going to be as a manager? What would you like to see happen within your team? Do you want to keep your technical skills? How do you rate your employees at the end of the year?

@ThingsExpo Stories
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it m...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus o...
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"LinearHub provides smart video conferencing, which is the Roundee service, and we archive all the video conferences and we also provide the transcript," stated Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of LinearHub, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.