Sunday, May 20, 2007

The academical approach

Oops, seems I to published this post prematurely by hitting some Blogger keyboard shortcut.

I've been sitting for some minutes trying to figure out how to approach the JavaZone talk mentioned in my previous blog-post.

Note that I have already submitted an abstract to the comittee, and that I won't publish the abstract here in the blog. Now of course the abstract is pretty detailed on what the talk is going to be about, but I've still got some elbow room on how to "implement" the talk.

I will use this blog as a tool to get my aim right on how to present the talk, what examples to include, what the slides should look like, and how to make it most straightforward and understandable for the audience.

Now in lack of having done any presentations at a larger conference before, I'm gonna dig into what I learned at the University, which wasn't very much, but they did teach me how to write a research paper, a skill which I will adapt into creating my talk:

The one rule over all rules in research: Crystallize your research question

Your research question is what you are trying to answer with your work, be it a thesis or a presentation. If you can't narrow down your research question to a single sentence, then you probably aren't quite sure what you are talking about. If you're unable to squeeze it into one sentence, squeeze it into two sentences and split them in two different talks.

Unfortunately, I started off my abstract with a pretty abstract research question:

"How can we speed up application development?"

(I was tempted to specifying web application since I'm a web-app dude, but thought it would be more valuable if the principle could be drawn into all kind of applications. Still might go reversal on that point though.)

Now the research question is interconnected with the following questions:
  • Motivation: What's our Problem (as an industry)?
  • Conclusion: How are we going to solve it?
These two questions try to figure out what I will be contributing to the field of knowledge. This is basically the points that will drag audience into my talk. My answers are as follows:

Q: What's the problem?
A: We spend too much time developing applications.

Digression: Time can be divided into three parts: (1) understanding domain and technology, (2) bootstrapping the project and (3) implementing the stuff. My main focus is on problem number (3), although it is mildly tempting to dig into number (2) as well (using Maven archetypes and/or similar tools to achieve RoR-like scaffolding), but that's a bit off my chart.

Q: How will we spend less time developing applications?
A: By writing less code and doing less configuration.

Now the audience should be asking: How?

The answer is: By using Action Domain Objects (ADOs). Hmpf, now I realize I came up with my own 3LA which is even the same name as the persistence framework in .NET, but I'm hoping I'll get away with it.

Note: I just googled the term and it seems it a guy named Scott on the Struts user mailing list already coined the term like 2 months ago. I'm hoping I'll get away with this too :P

So what are these ADOs and how am I going to make them work? Well, I'll get back to that next week.