JAVA Expert Martin Bond
|This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P.,
has an exclusive interview with, Martin Bond, B.Sc.
M.Sc. C.Eng. M.B.C.S., one of the key authors of
SAMS Teach Yourself J2EE in 21 Days with EJB, JSP,
Servlets, JNDI, JDBC, and XML. Martin, who has an
honours degree and a masters degree in computer
science, is also a European chartered engineer.
Martin has developed parallel processing compilers
for Inmos and he has designed systems using C++,
courses on Unix programming, Solaris security, Java
programming and XML.
Martin is an international expert in application
development, deployment, consulting, training, and
technical writing. We were able to catch Martin at
Content Masters Ltd., a technical authoring company
in the UK specializing in the production of training
and educational materials -
Q: Your combined accomplishments are staggering.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview.
A: My pleasure.
Q: I reviewed your most informative and useful book.
What led you to write this masterful work?
A: I wouldn't describe it as masterful; large
certainly, but then J2EE is a large subject. I was
contacted by Content Master to see if I was
interested in contributing to a book about J2EE. As
I have previously written training courses and white
papers I was interested in extending my writing
skills to include a book; and J2EE is a subject I
teach on training courses. The request also
coincided with a quiet period in my schedule
allowing me to take on 4 or 5 of the chapters at
very short notice.
Q: What ten or more tips can you provide from the
book and about developing in the Java space?
A: They are:
- Keep learning through reading and training
courses. Java is continually developing and
there is always something new to learn.
- Consider multi-threading issues carefully,
especially with servlets and JSPs. A large
number of sporadic and hard to reproduce bugs
can usually be traced to multi-threading
problems. Most developers do not understand how
to use multi-threading and are unaware of the
problems of sharing data (objects) across more
than one thread.
- Design in exception handling from the start;
don't add it on when the compiler refuses to
compile your code because you haven't put a
try/catch block around a method call. Plan where
you will catch and recover from thrown
exceptions in your method call hierarchy, and
propagate errors back to these known recovery
- Don't expose entity beans to clients. Always
hide them behind session beans.
- Use session beans to enforce business rules
and entity beans to enforce data integrity
- I hate to say this but I don't think entity
beans are very useful at the present time and I
personally would rather use Data Access Objects
and connection pooling to access a database
directly rather than use entity beans.
- Use entity beans as an in memory cache for
readonly data such as lookup tables.
- Make more use of JNDI for storing
information rather than use yet another database
- Worry about data security (integrity and
- Worry about performance, all these RMI
method calls and proxy/adapter objects seriously
Q: How would you contrast enterprise development in
Java versus .NET and is there a winner? What do you
see for the future of both development environments?
A: Like many developers I have concerns about the
security of .NET and the tendency for Microsoft to
change the standard every 18 months or so. In many
ways .NET is a rebranding of existing technologies
such as DCOM with minor (or major) API changes
together with useful new features. However the
proliferation of languages (C++, VB, C# and now J#)
must be causing problems in many development groups
with respect to skill shortages and choosing which
language to use.
The .NET platform ties the developer to a single
platform (WinTel) but this can be an advantage as it
takes away many of the hardware/software
manufacturer and product architecture issues that
have to be decided in an open systems environment.
The development tools provided with .NET are the
best in the industry and certainly improve developer
J2EE is open and whilst Sun control the Java and
J2EE standard there are a large number of partners
(IBM, BEA, Netscape, etc.) that act as a controlling
influence that prevents Sun from making radical
changes. Even though J2EE is standard there are
still grey areas around the edge of the standard
that allow different vendors to add value. The
ability to choose from one of many vendors gives the
developer a choice that will help keep all the
vendor's honest with regard to pricing and
licensing. Having free to use J2EE servers such as
JBoss makes J2EE accessible to cost conscious users.
Performance, reliability and scalability are an
issue for enterprise systems and here I think there
are some differentiators. The .NET platform uses
native machine code and must therefore be faster
than the interpreted byte codes of Java. A good JVM
(such as HotSpot from Sun Microsystem's) will
improve the performance of Java to be close to
native code, but it is unlikely to ever match it.
However raw processor speed is less of an issue
these days given the incredible speeds of modern
processors. Unless an application is heavily into
number crunching then disk and network I/O
performance is usually the limiting factor. Having
said that, many data encryption and multi-media
manipulation algorithms require CPU intensive
operations. Reliability depends on the underlying
platform and I believe Unix and Linux are more
reliable than NT (2000 or XP). I personally would be
wary of running a critical enterprise system on an
I see a future for both platforms. I think .NET with
its good development tools supports rapid
application development, and is useful for systems
that are constantly changing and are not essential.
I think J2EE is more applicable to mission critical
systems that have a long lifetime and whose
requirements do not change too rapidly. I think the
success or failure of the technologies will be
affected more by external criteria than the internal
architectural merits of the products. I'm thinking
of things like development tools, administrative
tools and licensing/cost issues. I wonder how many
.NET users are evaluating J2EE because of the new XP
Q: Describe future book titles and articles that we
can expect from you?
A: Myself and Debbie Law are working on a book on
Jakarta Tomcat for a new SAMS series (the name has
yet to be finalized). This is due to be published in
Nov 2002 and will cover Servlet/JSP development
techniques, Tomcat administration and some of the
Jakarta tools like Struts and Cactus.
Q: Can you describe some of the projects that you
have worked on and what tips you can pass on?
A: My last commercial project was a simple time
recording system written using servlets (this was
before JSPs were available). It took longer than I
planned. With hindsight, I wish I had been able to
use JSPs and had put more effort into the design. A
couple of years ago (for my own interest) I wrote a
simple Java MIDI system that allows me to write and
playback classical guitar music. I learnt a great
deal about Java design and implementation writing
the program but I wish I had understood Java idioms
and design patterns better; but learning how to
design and write Java code was one of the reasons
for the project. I have recently started another
version of the program utilizing a better overall
design (I decided I couldn't refactor the original
code), one day I might release the program as
shareware or freeware (if I ever finish it).
Q: What are ten or more traps or pitfalls that
developers should be wary of and avoid?
A: They are:
- Complacency – you can always improve on what
- Arrogance – you don't know everything and
can always learn something new
- Laziness – shortcuts will always come back
to bite you
- Lack of testing
- Coding without thinking. Design first, code
- Reinventing the wheel – learn the standard
Java classes (especially the java.test amd
java.util packages) and use provided
functionality rather than write your own class.
Look on the web at sites such as JARS
(www.jars.com), Jakarta (jakarta.apache.org),
Source Forge (www.sourceforge.com) and
Alphaworks (alphaworks.ibm.com) for open source
packages that will do what you want.
- Not understanding and using design patterns
- Not attending training courses to gain extra
- Using the same technology for every project
rather than choosing the most suitable
technology for each problem
- Eating too much pizza
Q: Can you share your leading career tips for those
thinking of getting into the computing field?
A: They are:
- Get a formal IT education first as what you
learn at school/college will help in the future
even if you can't apply it immediately.
- Look at the job specification rather than
the salary. A more interesting job will be more
rewarding; higher salaries come with time and
- Expect to work long hours. Even if you are
not in the office working you will have to spend
time keeping abreast with the new technology.
- Don't expect to learn everything and then be
able to sit back and relax. After 25 years in
the industry I am always learning something new.
- Be prepared to have people corner you at
parties and bore you with tales of their PC
hardware statistics or horrors stories of
Q: What are the hottest topics that all IT
professionals must know to be successful in the
short term and long term?
A: That changes on a regular basis. In 1997 Data
Warehouses, SAP, Design Patterns and C++ were hot,
Java was lukewarm, .NET didn't exist and Linux was
seen as a student/university toy.
These days I think .NET, J2EE and Security are the
Long term I think security and digital certificates
will become more widely used and Linux will gain
ground at the expense of both Windows/XP and
Solaris. I expect Java and .NET to remain hot for at
least 3 years more.
Q: What would be your recommended top ten references
for the serious developer?
1-8) The web. There is so much out there that you
can nearly always find the answer to your problem.
Books are good but given the fast changing nature of
IT most books are out of date after 2 years.
9) The javadocs for product APIs
10) I would advise developers to read the following
books for widening their knowledge rather than
adopting the practices (such as XP) that are
It is out of print now but I regard The Elements of
Programming Style – Kernigan and Plauger, as the
best book on thinking about and writing software (it
made me rethink how I wrote code).
- The Mythical Man Month – Fred Brooks
- Extreme Programming Explained – Kent Beck
- Refactoring – Martin Fowler
- Programming Pearls – Jon Bentley
- The Elements of Java Style.
Q: If you were doing this interview, what three
questions would you ask of someone in your position
and what would be your answers?
A: Why did you get into IT?
It was easier than Physics and Math which was my
initial degree subject.
What do you enjoy the most?
The hands on technical work and passing on my
knowledge. I am an educator (trainer, course writer,
book writer) because it lets me evaluate and use the
What do you dislike the most?
Maintaining someone else's code (or mine for that
Q: It’s a blank slate, what added comments would you
like to give to enterprise corporations and
A: Invest more in your staff in the form of training
and career paths. Many developers move into
management to get a higher salary rather than a
desire to be a manager. Provide a career path for
good developers to remain hands on whilst earning a
higher salary. Management is a separate career path
requiring different skills and there is no necessity
for a manager to have a higher salary than the staff
Q: Thank you for sharing your valuable insights with
us today and we look forward to reading your books,
A: Thank you.