Things Change

I know it might appear that I’m against change. I won’t deny that I’ve been anti-Linux and anti-Open Source in the past. You only have to read my editorials to know I have strong opinions on these issues. However, this doesn’t mean I’m against all change and progress. I’m only against change that is ill conceived and driven not by sound arguments, but by wild hysteria. I’m also against change for change sake.

When you put my vitriol for Linux and Open Source aside, there is a part of me that hopes that they grow up and give all IT managers what they need
So now you know what I’m against, but what am I for? Well, to state it simply, I’m for any change that makes sense. Throw out an idea and back it up with a well reasoned argument and you have a good chance of swaying my opinion.

Case in point. When Java was introduced by Sun five years ago, I thought it was the most ridiculous language I had ever seen. As a programmer, to me the idea of “write once, run everywhere” was ludicrous. Being accustomed to making significant changes to software to make it run on multiple platforms, I just didn’t think Sun could pull this off. Related to this was the initially bad GUI functionality implemented by the Abstract Windowing Toolkit (AWT). Due to the sub-standard AWT implementation, I once referred to Java as “write once, run everywhere poorly” and a lot of people agreed with me. The idea of writing a complete, GUI-intensive application with Java was just plain stupid. I was proven correct by Corel’s failed attempt to port Corel Office Suite to Java. It was slow and it just didn’t work.

The reality of life, though, is that things do change. Some change for the better and some change for the worse. The only certain thing is that things change over time.

Thankfully, Java changed for the better. Sun introduced Enterprise Java Beans, Java Servlets and Java Server Pages. These advancements make Java a viable server-side language, ideal for building Web applications where it was a client-side language. In addition, the Java Foundation Classes, better known as Swing, have made GUI programming with Java not only possible, but also desirable. I now see GUI-intensive applications implemented with Java and they work fine. A good example is Sun’s own Forte for Java development tool. It’s implemented entirely in Java and works quite well. It would have been unthinkable to implement Forte for Java with AWT—it would have been slow and ugly.

Will the Linux and the Open Source software movements change for the better or remain positioned only as the anti-Microsoft alternatives? Who can tell? When you put my vitriol for Linux and Open Source aside, there is a part of me that hopes that they grow up and give all IT managers—not just the cadre of zealots that have embraced these movements to date—what they need: robust software that has the backing of major hardware and software vendors in a real and substantive manner.

While we’re on the subject of change you might have noticed that MIDRANGE Systems looks substantially different. With this issue we’ve completed the long process of giving the only newspaper in the AS/400 market a face-lift. This process started in September of last year when we changed the way we deliver information by eliminating some sections, renaming other sections and creating entirely new sections. We think that these changes have made information easier to find and made your reading experience more productive.

Now we complete the transformation with an update to the look of MIDRANGE Systems. When we were acquired in October 1999 by 101communications LLC, a centralization of art resources meant that we were assigned a new art director. After a transitional period, Rich Kortz—long-time MIDRANGE Systems Art Director—moved on, and Lew Bryant took his place. After Lew got his bearings he proposed a redesign of MIDRANGE Systems and after previewing his ideas, we decided to go ahead.

Lew and his assistant Jenny Looney have worked tirelessly on this redesign for a number of months and what you see in this issue is the fruit of their labor. Kudos go to Lew and Jenny for a job well done. I think you’ll find that their hard work has resulted in a magazine that is easier to read and more to pleasing to the eye.

In my mind, the jury is still out on Linux and Open Source, but we are ready for the verdict on the new and improved MIDRANGE Systems. As always I welcome your comments in general, and specifically on our new look.

Related Editorial:

  • Java: Transforming the AS/400?
  • Free the Code!
  • Keeping an Open Mind on Open Source

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