SOA Training Classes in Heidelberg, Germany

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The original article was posted by Michael Veksler on Quora

A very well known fact is that code is written once, but it is read many times. This means that a good developer, in any language, writes understandable code. Writing understandable code is not always easy, and takes practice. The difficult part, is that you read what you have just written and it makes perfect sense to you, but a year later you curse the idiot who wrote that code, without realizing it was you.

The best way to learn how to write readable code, is to collaborate with others. Other people will spot badly written code, faster than the author. There are plenty of open source projects, which you can start working on and learn from more experienced programmers.

Readability is a tricky thing, and involves several aspects:

  1. Never surprise the reader of your code, even if it will be you a year from now. For example, don’t call a function max() when sometimes it returns the minimum().
  2. Be consistent, and use the same conventions throughout your code. Not only the same naming conventions, and the same indentation, but also the same semantics. If, for example, most of your functions return a negative value for failure and a positive for success, then avoid writing functions that return false on failure.
  3. Write short functions, so that they fit your screen. I hate strict rules, since there are always exceptions, but from my experience you can almost always write functions short enough to fit your screen. Throughout my carrier I had only a few cases when writing short function was either impossible, or resulted in much worse code.
  4. Use descriptive names, unless this is one of those standard names, such as i or it in a loop. Don’t make the name too long, on one hand, but don’t make it cryptic on the other.
  5. Define function names by what they do, not by what they are used for or how they are implemented. If you name functions by what they do, then code will be much more readable, and much more reusable.
  6. Avoid global state as much as you can. Global variables, and sometimes attributes in an object, are difficult to reason about. It is difficult to understand why such global state changes, when it does, and requires a lot of debugging.
  7. As Donald Knuth wrote in one of his papers: “Early optimization is the root of all evil”. Meaning, write for readability first, optimize later.
  8. The opposite of the previous rule: if you have an alternative which has similar readability, but lower complexity, use it. Also, if you have a polynomial alternative to your exponential algorithm (when N > 10), you should use that.

Use standard library whenever it makes your code shorter; don’t implement everything yourself. External libraries are more problematic, and are both good and bad. With external libraries, such as boost, you can save a lot of work. You should really learn boost, with the added benefit that the c++ standard gets more and more form boost. The negative with boost is that it changes over time, and code that works today may break tomorrow. Also, if you try to combine a third-party library, which uses a specific version of boost, it may break with your current version of boost. This does not happen often, but it may.

Don’t blindly use C++ standard library without understanding what it does - learn it. You look at std::vector::push_back() documentation at it tells you that its complexity is O(1), amortized. What does that mean? How does it work? What are benefits and what are the costs? Same with std::map, and with std::unordered_map. Knowing the difference between these two maps, you’d know when to use each one of them.

Never call new or delete directly, use std::make_unique and [cost c++]std::make_shared[/code] instead. Try to implement usique_ptr, shared_ptr, weak_ptr yourself, in order to understand what they actually do. People do dumb things with these types, since they don’t understand what these pointers are.

Every time you look at a new class or function, in boost or in std, ask yourself “why is it done this way and not another?”. It will help you understand trade-offs in software development, and will help you use the right tool for your job. Don’t be afraid to peek into the source of boost and the std, and try to understand how it works. It will not be easy, at first, but you will learn a lot.

Know what complexity is, and how to calculate it. Avoid exponential and cubic complexity, unless you know your N is very low, and will always stay low.

Learn data-structures and algorithms, and know them. Many people think that it is simply a wasted time, since all data-structures are implemented in standard libraries, but this is not as simple as that. By understanding data-structures, you’d find it easier to pick the right library. Also, believe it or now, after 25 years since I learned data-structures, I still use this knowledge. Half a year ago I had to implemented a hash table, since I needed fast serialization capability which the available libraries did not provide. Now I am writing some sort of interval-btree, since using std::map, for the same purpose, turned up to be very very slow, and the performance bottleneck of my code.

Notice that you can’t just find interval-btree on Wikipedia, or stack-overflow. The closest thing you can find is Interval tree, but it has some performance drawbacks. So how can you implement an interval-btree, unless you know what a btree is and what an interval-tree is? I strongly suggest, again, that you learn and remember data-structures.

These are the most important things, which will make you a better programmer. The other things will follow.

Java still has its place in the world of software development, but is it quickly becoming obsolete by the more dynamically enabled Python programming language? The issue is hotly contested by both sides of the debate. Java experts point out that Java is still being developed with more programmer friendly updates. Python users swear that Java can take up to ten times longer to develop. Managers that need to make the best decision for a company need concrete information so that an informed and rational decision can be made.

First, Java is a static typed language while Python is dynamically typed. Static typed languages require that each variable name must be tied to both a type and an object. Dynamically typed languages only require that a variable name only gets bound to an object. Immediately, this puts Python ahead of the game in terms of productivity since a static typed language requires several elements and can make errors in coding more likely.

Python uses a concise language while Java uses verbose language. Concise language, as the name suggests, gets straight to the point without extra words. Removing additional syntax can greatly reduce the amount of time required to program.  A simple call in Java, such as the ever notorious "Hello, World" requires three several lines of coding while Python requires a single sentence. Java requires the use of checked exceptions. If the exceptions are not caught or thrown out then the code fails to compile. In terms of language, Python certainly has surpassed Java in terms of brevity.

Additionally, while Java's string handling capabilities have improved they haven't yet matched the sophistication of Python's. Web applications rely upon fast load times and extraneous code can increase user wait time. Python optimizes code in ways that Java doesn't, and this can make Python a more efficient language. However, Java does run faster than Python and this can be a significant advantage for programmers using Java. When you factor in the need for a compiler for Java applications the speed factor cancels itself out leaving Python and Java at an impasse.

While a programmer will continue to argue for the language that makes it easiest based on the programmer's current level of knowledge, new software compiled with Python takes less time and provides a simplified coding language that reduces the chance for errors. When things go right, Java works well and there are no problems. However, when errors get introduced into the code, it can become extremely time consuming to locate and correct those errors. Python generally uses less code to begin with and makes it easier and more efficient to work with.

Ultimately, both languages have their own strengths and weaknesses. For creating simple applications, Python provides a simpler and more effective application. Larger applications can benefit from Java and the verbosity of the code actually makes it more compatible with future versions. Python code has been known to break with new releases. Ultimately, Python works best as a type of connecting language to conduct quick and dirty work that would be too intensive when using Java alone. In this sense, Java is a low-level implementation language. While both languages are continuing to develop, it's unlikely that one language will surpass the other for all programming needs in the near future.

Applications are becoming more and more sophisticated as languages such as Python open the doors to the world of programming for people who have the creative vision but always felt actually writing code was beyond their grasp.

A large part of any programs success is based on how well it can react to the events which it has been programmed to understand and listen for.

A good example of an event would be when the user clicks a button on the applications window. What happens when that button is clicked?

Well, the first thing that happens is the operating system sends out a message to let any listening software know that the button was clicked. Next, your application needs to do something in response to that event.

A business rule is the basic unit of rule processing in a Business Rule Management System (BRMS) and, as such, requires a fundamental understanding. Rules consist of a set of actions and a set of conditions whereby actions are the consequences of each condition statement being satisfied or true. With rare exception, conditions test the property values of objects taken from an object model which itself is gleaned from a Data Dictionary and UML diagrams. See my article on Data Dictionaries for a better understanding on this subject matter.

A simple rule takes the form:

if condition(s)

then actions.

An alternative form includes an else statement where alternate actions are executed in the event that the conditions in the if statement are not satisfied:

if condition(s)

then actions

else alternate_actions

It is not considered a best prectice to write rules via nested if-then-else statements as they tend to be difficult to understand, hard to maintain and even harder to extend as the depth of these statements increases; in other words, adding if statements within a then clause makes it especially hard to determine which if statement was executed when looking at a bucket of rules. Moreoever, how can we determine whether the if or the else statement was satisfied without having to read the rule itself. Rules such as these are often organized into simple rule statements and provided with a name so that when reviewing rule execution logs one can determine which rule fired and not worry about whether the if or else statement was satisfied. Another limitation of this type of rule processing is that it does not take full advantage of rule inferencing and may have a negative performance impact on the Rete engine execution. Take a class with HSG and find out why.

Rule Conditions

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the hartmann software group advantage
A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Germany since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about SOA programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized SOA experts
  • Get up to speed with vital SOA programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
  • We care…
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