David Norfolk

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David Norfolk, BSc, CEng, MBCS, CITP, ARPS is practice leader with responsibility for development and governance at Bloor Research International. He is on the committee of the BCS Configuration Management Specialist Group and you can find him on Linkedin.

Microsoft offers Architects a view

Always be careful what you wish for. I liked Stuart Okin when he was chief security officer for Microsoft UK and thought he did a lot for Microsoft's credibility in this area, but I'm afraid I occasionally laughed at Microsoft for putting a developer type in charge of security, instead of a superannuated spook as everyone else …
David Norfolk, 06 Mar 2007
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Putting the graphic artist in the loop

One of the exciting ideas just now is Microsoft's WPF, formally Avalon. Oversimplifying somewhat, this introduces a layered approach to UI design, separating the business logic from the UI design, so graphic artists can design the look-and-feel of your applications without worrying about the code implementing the business logic …
David Norfolk, 05 Mar 2007
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Blog: Capturing and testing Business Policy.

I've just had an interesting email from Bill Nicholls in Washington State prompted by my piece on legacy systems here. He wants me to put more emphasis on the “testing” phase, although he doesn’t like calling it “testing” because (I think) “testing” no longer implies (if it ever did) any particular attention to test design, …
David Norfolk, 03 Mar 2007
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Reclaiming a different legacy

What is "legacy"? It's worth remembering that a lot of systems were written in RAD (Rapid Application Development) tools such as PowerBuilder and Visual Basic in the nineties and this is now often undocumented legacy in small companies (and some not-so-small ones) - just as COBOL systems are in large enterprises. In fact, …
David Norfolk, 02 Mar 2007
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Blog: Kalido updates MDM tool

Kalido announced the latest release of its master data management solution, MDM 8 Release 3, today. Now, I have real problems with MDM, because in my old-fashioned way, I expect product codes, customer numbers and the like to be subject to data analysis like anything else and stored in databases or data warehouses as appropriate …
David Norfolk, 21 Feb 2007
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An open API for networking technology?

Futures Although I concentrate mainly on development these days, in previous lives I was involved in internal control and network management in a City financial institution and I like to keep up to date with networking and network security – especially as I believe that networking technology represents a long-neglected opportunity for …
David Norfolk, 20 Feb 2007
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Blog: End-user experience with Citrix

I’ve always had a soft spot for Citrix as a platform but it used to have limitations for general use – not least, that it used not to work too well without a network connection. Well, it looks like those days are properly over now. Citrix has been acquiring new technology for some time and now with release 4.5 of Presentation …
David Norfolk, 19 Feb 2007
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Editor's Blog: Quality Management

Quality management often looks very different from the perspective of the pointy haired manager who sees it as a noble edifice like an East Anglian church, gleaming in the early morning sunlight under a spring sky. Whereas the Dilbertia/Dilbert in charge of actually making it work feels as tough s/he's lost in the wilds of East …
David Norfolk, 15 Feb 2007
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Blog: The meaning of the meaning of meaning

My recent piece on search engines provoked this email comment from Tom Welsh (Reg Dev contributor and Senior Consultant with Cutter Consortium): "Most people are quite unaware of the yawning gap between data and "knowledge", which is what semantics is all about. As for the term "unstructured", I concluded long ago that it is …
David Norfolk, 11 Feb 2007
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Search me, guv...

Comment I'm always a little nervous about the idea of a search engine as the solution to the tide of "unstructured data" we're all drowning in. For a start, most of it isn't really unstructured - show me an unstructured email invoice and I'll show you something that is useless because you aren't sure who it came from and what it applies …
David Norfolk, 11 Feb 2007
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Vista: fit for purpose...

Comment The UK Developer launch of Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office System was pretty impressive, as such things usually are. A 3D representation of the London Underground system from Lars Lindstedt's Microsoft Technology Centre at Thames Valley, complete with trains moving around in real-time, was particularly impressive ( …
David Norfolk, 29 Jan 2007
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Is old code automatically good code?

The "old dog&" in this case is Marcus Ranum, inventor of the proxy firewall and the man who implemented the first commercial firewall product. He’s now the CSO at Tenable Network Security, the company that produces the Nessus security scanner, and author of the book The Myth of Homeland Security. Marcus Ranum He's also on …
David Norfolk, 25 Jan 2007
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Blog: Changing your bank details

Every so often, I bang on about compensating transactions - in essence, they’re the way that you clear up problems in automated systems without upsetting your customers. So, if you have badly designed computer systems which can't cope with real life, the simplest compensating transaction might be an exit to a real person, …
David Norfolk, 24 Jan 2007
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Is Solaris really a bright choice for developers?

So, you're tired of Windows and thinking of trying Linux. There are lots of good distros, RedHat or Novell have all the enterprise cred you might need. And there's a support community too, it's a no brainer.... Well, that's all true enough – but why not try Solaris - in its OpenSolaris form - too? It's just as available, at …
David Norfolk, 22 Jan 2007
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Editor's Blog: SEEDing graduates

One really goes to conferences like Microsoft TechEd to meet people you didn’t know you were going to find interesting… One such serendipitous conversation I had at TechEd this Autumn was with Iain Kelwick of the University of Hull, about SEED Software. This is an EU- and Microsoft-sponsored initiative for unemployed Comp Sci …
David Norfolk, 10 Jan 2007
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Extreme Programmers! Meet up in Leeds

eXtreme Programmers are nothing if not clubbable, but the eXtreme Tuesday Club (XtC) is a City thing, as in the City of London, and I'd hate for Reg Dev to seem London-centric. So, as there are also plenty of eXtreme Programmers up North, I was interested to hear of one of them (with some sponsorship from Erudine) trying to get …
David Norfolk, 05 Jan 2007
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Working in the COBOL mine

The most common applications sector where the integration of long-standing legacy applications is a still vital requirement is, of course, the broad reaches of the financial services community. When such an application has established itself and proved not just its capabilities but its reliability and overall efficiency to the …
David Norfolk, 05 Jan 2007
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Adopt and adapt better than rip and replace...

If the internet has done nothing else, it has made the parochial world of proprietary systems appear outdated. Software architecture "A" now had better interoperate with software architecture "B", or risk rejection as now being unfit for purpose. And all of them need to interoperate with language "X" and application "Z". But in …
David Norfolk, 03 Jan 2007
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The devil is in the details

Editors blog It's well-known that data quality is often the devil you find hiding in the implementation detail of many big integration (and other) projects. It's a particular issue when companies merge. Of course, "your" salespeople always fill in contact and customer details accurately and honestly but "their" salespeople apparently got …
David Norfolk, 02 Jan 2007
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Vintage Databases

To save time and bandwidth, can I just point out in one place that we are, of course, aware of Adabas, IMS, IDMS, Pick, Mumps, Nomad, Teradata, UniVerse, Foxpro and many other very fine vintage and not-so-vintage database technologies. Some of us were around when they appeared, some of us have actually used some of them - and we …
David Norfolk, 29 Dec 2006
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BLOG - RTFM - and why not?

My central heating chose to pack up on Xmas Eve, as it does, and this nice man from British Gas came round to fix it. [As an aside, even in Midwinter, you don't actually need central heating, especially these days when winters aren't so cold - we're not actually freezing. Which is worth remembering, since central heating is …
David Norfolk, 27 Dec 2006
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Do you have a mature testing process?

How mature is your testing? Do you slip in a few tests if you have time after the final compile, or are your requirements each defined by a set of tests before you start? Do you review the quality of what you delivered afterwards with a view to doing better next time – or avoid such post-mortems, in case they provide a further …
David Norfolk, 20 Dec 2006
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Ain't testing finished yet, Ma?

A week or so ago I met Geoff Brace, a Director of Owldata Ltd, at a BCS CMSG (Configuration Management Special Interest Group) seminar on ITIL - yes Matilda, ITIL is relevant to developers. We got into a discussion about testing, sparked by this article. It reminded Geoff about some attempts he'd made to predict defect rates in …
David Norfolk, 19 Dec 2006
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Tibco takes pop at SOA complexity

Tibco last week announced the general availability of TIBCO ActiveMatrix for service-oriented architectures (SOA). This is the industry's first “service virtualization platform” for the deployment and governance of composite applications based on distributed, standards-based services". Tibco is in competition with Oracles and …
David Norfolk, 07 Dec 2006
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Database in depth

Book review Readers have probably noticed that I was a DBA (Database Administrator) in a former life and I'm an enthusiast for the Relational Model. However, I must confess that I've always taken my Codd re-digested by Chris Date (I have two editions of his work An Introduction to Database Systems on my shelves, both of which I actually …
David Norfolk, 05 Dec 2006
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IBM/Rational builds ALM

Well, IBM/Rational has made its Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) story rather more complete by acquiring BuildForge (which plays in the ITIL Release Management space and wider) in May 2006. This is another example of a trend I identified earlier this year, I guess. At a breakfast meeting a few days ago hosted by …
David Norfolk, 28 Nov 2006
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Oracle: a surveyor speaks

I'm no survey enthusiast (in fact, as readers must realise by now, I'm pretty cynical about survey usage in the PR industry) so I thought I'd ask Dale Vile, our resident survey guru, about some of the points I raised about a recent UKOUG (UK Oracle User Group) survey here. How might the Oracle user sample in the UKOUG survey …
David Norfolk, 16 Nov 2006
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Oracle survey versus Oracle survey

I found the Reg Technology Panel survey especially interesting as I've just been discussing a similar survey made by the UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG), with almost double the number of respondents, with Ronan Miles, UKOUG chairman. Both surveys are professionally carried out, yet they have different results. This is almost …
David Norfolk, 16 Nov 2006
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Firing up the Erudine engine

This is the next article in our occasional series on new, more formal (mathematically-based) approaches to system development. The first article (here), looked at Bayesian analysis and formal methods (which are only "new" to the general development space, of course). This article looks at a tool, the Erudine executable …
David Norfolk, 16 Nov 2006
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A Letter from TechEd in Barcelona

Well, while I was digesting my meal here last night – and trying to make sense of the fire hose of information that has just washed over me – Windows Vista was released to manufacturing. So it is finished at last, which is good news. Take a look at the Vista blog here for some real enthusiastic responses. Although it occurs to …
David Norfolk, 09 Nov 2006
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MS and Novell: the end of a good feud

Comment And so, last week, “Microsoft Corp. and Novell Inc. ... announced a set of broad business and technical collaboration agreements to build, market and support a series of new solutions to make Novell and Microsoft products work better together. The two companies also announced an agreement to provide each other’s customers with …
David Norfolk, 06 Nov 2006
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Lifecycle Quality at Borland

Borland is now promoting a new TLA LQM - Lifecycle Quality Management. This could be an interesting new focus for development teams, as long as people understand Quality in terms of "fitness for business purpose" instead of just "well, it meets corporate standards and there's some really neat code in there". Lifecycle Quality …
David Norfolk, 02 Nov 2006
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OASIS Reference Model for SOA

The Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) has been a great success – in that it's a new buying signal for lots of customers who were seemingly getting a bit fed up with paying money to IT vendors for more of the same. So there are now 43 million different interpretations of what `SOA’ means, ranging from “radically new, loosely …
David Norfolk, 29 Oct 2006
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Dynamic developments in Java

In his review of a “Ruby For Rails” book today, Pan Pantziarka comments that the new language Ruby is now being “billed as a possible Java-killer”. Well, it seems that Sun may think so too, as its JRuby team (Sun hired key Ruby developers Thomas Enebo and Charles Nutter, back in September) has just released JRuby 0.9.1 for Java …
David Norfolk, 24 Oct 2006
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Avoiding SOA standards-based chaos

SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) is apparently nice and easy to understand - a bit of WSDL, some XML, SOAP, and a simple UDDI directory to select your services from. So far so good – and then you find yourself in "standards based chaos", running services which don't do what they say on the tin; and even "rogue" services …
David Norfolk, 20 Oct 2006

SpikeSource - an OSS innovation?

Does SpikeSource represent the next stage in the evolution of open source software as a serious business tool? It hopes so, and it has some significant names to call on: Kim Polese, its CEO and co-founder, once co-founder of Marimba; Ray Lane, co-founder of SpikeSource and former president of Oracle; Bill Joy, SpikeSource …
David Norfolk, 10 Oct 2006
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James Martin - guru?

James Martin popped up on BBC Radio 4's Start the Week yesterday, mapping out technology futures. I go back a long way with James Martin - not personally you understand, although I met him once. His seminal book on Computer Database Organisation was largely responsible for me becoming a DBA instead of a programmer. With …
David Norfolk, 03 Oct 2006
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Java EE and .NET Interoperability

Book review This book is aimed at practising Java and .NET developers, at a fairly novice level, who want to take advantage of the strong points of each of the two platforms in a single applications environment. It also aims to be suitable for IT architects and managers needing an overview of what Java and .NET integration technologies are …
David Norfolk, 29 Sep 2006
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Data analysis isn't dead

Call me old-fashioned, but data is still pretty important. In most systems, if you feed bad data in you get bad data out (Garbage In, Garbage Out - GIGO). And if you analyse data structures and relationships, you can eliminate a lot of poor thinking before it goes live. If I know that one of these things is always, or never, …
David Norfolk, 25 Sep 2006
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A database solution is more than database software

Blog I was interested to read Ian Murphy's story about SQL Anywhere. Despite the availability of embedded databases, it seems to me that the database (in the DBMS sense) hasn't really come to mobile devices like phones yet. This is largely because of resource constraints - they're back in the 1970s mindset before enterprise databases …
David Norfolk, 25 Sep 2006
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High integrity software

Book review This book is the 2006 revision of the key guide to SPARK, a programming language founded on formal proof and static code analysis. This language happens to be implemented as an Ada dialect that makes use of formal comments to specify what the associated code is supposed to do, but it is not really Ada. Put simply, it is a …
David Norfolk, 20 Sep 2006
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Death of batch – long live real-time

Remember batch processing? All your vital business reports and reconciliations ran overnight when everyone had gone home; and finished, with a bit of luck, just before everyone arrived back for work in the morning. Well, it's been clear for 20 years that the day of batch processing is over: People work flexibly, 24x7, these …
David Norfolk, 27 Aug 2006
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Code analysis and legacy modernisation

In feedback to the article I co-wrote here, I was accused of being “way ahead of the game” so far as ordinary development goes. Well, I was just talking to Mike Oara, CTO of Relativity and his colleague, product marketing manager Peter Mollins; and they seem to have some very similar ideas in the much more prosaic “legacy …
David Norfolk, 23 Aug 2006
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Compuware's testing roundtable

I’ve just been representing Reg Developer as one of only three journalists at an interesting roundtable discussion devoted to “Software Quality, Best Practice and Governance” (which seems to mean Testing, in the widest sense). Among those present were Sarah Saltzman of Compuware, the sponsor of the roundtable event; Teresa …
David Norfolk, 17 Aug 2006
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We only use above average programmers here...

A number of people have commented that "nobody" uses Floating Point in financial calculations, for all the reasons Dan Clarke went into in his recent article on Floating Point and rounding issues. But it seems to me that this misses the point. Yes, I'm old enough to remember when IBM mainframes, and its COBOL, supported BCD ( …
David Norfolk, 14 Aug 2006
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Mathematical approaches to managing defects

Software testing is still a controversial subject – everybody agrees that it is a "good thing", but it is frequently the first bit of the process to get cut when deadlines bite. After all, those sneaky testers are really responsible for the bugs, aren't they? Our software is just fine until strangers start poking around inside …
David Norfolk, 14 Aug 2006
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More on CMDB – and Active Repositories

I've been having a conversation (via email) with BillN, prompted by my piece on CMDB here. I thought that I’d reproduce the conversation, with his permission, and see if anyone else had ideas in this area (there's some more background on CMDB here). BillN: That was verrry interesting… A planning tool that can use the CMDB for a …
David Norfolk, 06 Aug 2006
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Give me CMDB before I die

If there's a fashionable topic in the enterprise at the moment, it's ITIL (the IT Infrastructure Library, a collection of best practices for managing IT operations) and its contribution to IT Governance. For developers, it's all about designing holistic systems, with operational resilience, upgrade, maintenance and even change …
David Norfolk, 02 Aug 2006
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I hate surveys!

According to a Microsoft press release, based on a survey by Vanson Bourne of 200 UK businesses and commissioned by Microsoft Ltd (and quoted, somewhat reluctantly, by Martin Banks here): “Alarmingly, in 66 per cent of UK businesses using BI tools, organisations’ business intelligence resides with their employees. And only 2 …
David Norfolk, 30 Jul 2006
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Don't give foresight, give me luck!

And so to lunch with Martin Richmond-Coggan, VP EMEA at Applix, ostensibly to talk about its acquisition of Temtec BI visualisation software. Apparently, Applix's TM1 combined with Temtec's Executive Viewer is proving much more attractive than TM1 alone to potential customers using Essbase and wondering what its strategic future …
David Norfolk, 28 Jul 2006