Announcing DevCon V
by B. Victor Chakravarty, Enterprise Systems Architect
The semi-annual Developers' Conference (DevCon) is the premier opportunity for State IT Developers to network and brainstorm. This is where they acquire important skills, initiate collaborative projects, bounce ideas off their peers, and also have some fun on the side. First launched in the spring-summer of 2006, the time has come for the fifth conference of this series. DevCon V will be held on June 18, 2008, Wednesday, from 8:30 AM to noon, at the Central Maine Commerce Center Florian Room. The theme is Web Services, and it will include three presentations from early adopters of Web Services within the State. The detailed agenda is available at http://inet.state.me.us/oit/training/DevConV (accessible only from the Intranet). Intending participants are urged to register as soon as possible.
Web Services are a little like web pages, but with two differences. One: their target consumers are not human beings, but machines; therefore, unlike web pages, Web Services do not contain any visual formatting. Two: whereas web pages are written in HTML, Web Services are written in XML. Like web pages, Web Services are invoked over the Internet and function as remote Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The best advantage of Web Services is that they are independent of the underlying implementation technologies. It does not matter if a Web Service is implemented in Java or C#. It does not matter if that Web Service is hosted on Linux or Windows. The only thing that matters from a consumption standpoint is that this Web Service is invokable over the Internet using standards-based APIs. The chief disadvantage of Web Services is that they are not as efficient as directly invoking machine code. Nor do Web Services readily provide such niceties as persistence, notification, transaction support, etc. But in many cases, the advantage in terms of flexibility far outweighs these disadvantages. More specifically, Web Services are well suited for building interfaces between applications. Even when the applications themselves undergo upgrades or replacements, the interfaces have the potential to survive unscathed due to the flexibility of Web Services.
If past DevCons are any guide, although the podium presentations generate lots of questions and comments, the real passion and candor are reserved for the Open Mic session. This is where the State developer community reveals its thoughts and opinions in random, free-wheeling exchanges. Real changes have been precipitated as a result of previous Open Mic sessions. As a random example, one of the action items from the last Open Mic session was to establish a shared Software Configuration Management system that would eventually scale up to the entire enterprise. We are glad to report back that such a system has indeed been established, with initial deployment to two agencies.
Given the distributed organizational structure of the State developer community, the DevCon is our premier opportunity to accomplish peer-to-peer enrichment. We thank the State developer community for their strong support to the previous four DevCons. And we look forward to the same kind of passionate participation in the upcoming DevCon V.