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ThoughtWorks Technology Radar

ThoughtWorks Technology Radar is out and definitely worth a read. Although I follow many of the ThoughtWorks folks, like Martin Fowler, Neal Ford and Jez Humble, this is the first time I have read their tech radar, but it won’t be the last.

The radar is basically the collective opinion of various ThoughtWorkers on the viability of a plethora of technology options, presumably gathered from the huge number of custom software projects they undertake each year. I found it very interesting and even started to read through a few of their older ones too.

They basically rate things on a 4 star scale:

  • Adopt: Strongly recommend
  • Trial: Worth pursuing
  • Assess: Worth understanding
  • Hold: Proceed with caution

Some of the things that jumped out at me from this years were:

Techniques

  • Development environments in the cloud get a thumbs up, tying in with my own +ve experiences of using GitHub for source control, a cloud based Jenkins to run tests and build, and deploying to Cloudbees. The teach radar explicitly mentions Snap CI (presumably tying in to Heroku). Perhaps somewhat biased as it is developed by ThoughtWorks, but still worth checking out I think.

Tools

  • Gradle and Rake both get a thumbs up (adopt) as build tools, while maven and ant continue to get a thumbs down (hold). I’ve been spending more time with Gradle recently, and am keen to move away from maven, so definitely agree.
  • Splunk is a data index/search tool, e.g. for log files, that I have been using a lot recently and it continues to impress me. Although not mentioned in this issue of the radar, it has been favorably mentioned in past issues. It’s free version is more than feature rich enough for small to medium projects.
  • D3: Data-Driven Documents. This is something that hasn’t been on my radar at all, but by the sounds of things, should be. It is an open source JavaScript library for displaying data in graphical form.

Platforms

  • MongoDB gets a a thumbs up (adopt), Hadoop (2.0) gets a ‘trial’.
  • AWS wasn’t explicitly mentioned, but has be been given an Adopt rating in the past, and I think is still what underpins many of the popular PAAS offerings out there.

Languages & Frameworks

  • Scala and Clojure both get a thumbs up (adopt). I’m not too surprised by this as I have heard several ThoughtWorkers evangelize them in the past, and I am keen to continue playing with both more.
  • Java has been flagged as ‘assess’ in previous editions and is not explicitly rated in the more recent one. It certainly seems to be increasingly viewed as a legacy technology. Still, I use it every day!
  • HTML5 continues to get favorable reviews. For example HTML5 storage gets a ‘Trial’ rating.
  • JavaScript frameworks
    • Interestingly, Node.js (server side JavaScript, using event driven async IO) gets a trial, but Node.js  with Jasmine (a BDD framework for testing JavaScript) gets a more positive thumbs up (adopt). I personally have been sceptical of Node.js. JavaScript on the server side sounds… weird, and I’ve heard that it can result in call-back hell, but I guess I need to reconsider!
    • The other JavaScript frameworks that seems to be viewed favorable were AngularJS (an open-source JavaScript framework from Google) with Knockout (JavaScript implementation of the Model-View-ViewModel pattern), and Require.js (a file and module loader for JavaScript). CoffeeScript (which compiles in to JavaScript) is also mentioned as one that continues to evolve well. Backbone.js gets a big old no (hold).
  • Perhaps most interestingly of all to me was that component based frameworks (which, I think, in the Java world includes JSF, Wicket and Tapestry) get a big, unequivocal thumbs down (hold). GWT has also in the past (see July 2011 radar) been singled out as something to avoid. Presumably Vaadin falls in to the same ‘hold’ category. I’ve had limited exposure to these types of frameworks (I’ve worked more on the traditional request based ones, like Spring MVC), and it sounds like that is not a bad thing.

Overall, a thought provoking and insightful read from ThoughtWorks.

For me personally, my tech radar for the next few months includes getting more familiar with REST, exploring more of the JavaScript frameworks, and also looking more at Ruby on Rails. Clojure and Scala as language choice, and Gradle as a build tool also continue to interest me.

Feels like a good time to be a technologist…

 

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