The Sun Outshines the Rest in the Field of TechnologyAhhh....love is in the air. What could be more befitting of a Valentine's day filled with steamy e-cards, torrid instant messaging sessions, and last minute Amazon.com deliveries than an announcement confessing our obsessions for the best loved technology of the year? This year's field of candidates is particularly appealing, as they represent some of the hottest developments in what many consider to be the most exciting year in tech since the dotcom boom. In this article, I'll discuss the delectable traits of each candidate, keeping you in suspense until the end where I'll introduce the winner and offer some thoughts regarding why it ultimately won the heart of Developer.com readers everywhere.
Librarians do it. Foodies do it. Product manager Mark Jen says Google fired him for doing it. Of course computer guys do it (and we do it better, but only because we've been doing it the longest). No, I'm not talking about the the Macarena. I'm talking about blogging, the form of online publishing where everyone's their own DIY media empire.
It would be easy to say that 2004 was significant for blogging because it marked the year in which the publishing model was proven to be more than a fad, however this stage has long since passed. For starters, the mainstream press seems to have completed the transition from denigration to emulation, with the term "blogosphere" presently referenced almost as often as "disenfranchised" or "quagmire" have been in the recent past. Although there's still a reporter or two out there who simply still don't get it, it's fair to say that the pros have started to acknowledge the benefit of giving the unwashed masses a platform to air their own views. Regardless, beware to those who think the impact is minimal. Just ask Dan Rather.
And if media buy-in isn't enough to sell you on blogs, consider how many politicos threw their hats into the blogging arena in 2004. Taking a page from The Dean presidential campaign, both Bush and Kerry tapped into blogs throughout their 2004 campaigns. More recently, U.S. Senator Jim Talent blogged daily during his weeklong visit to the Middle East, relaying quite a bit of interesting insight and other details regarding his travels. Apparently the approach is catching on (even Al Gore's reportedly now convinced he invented the blog), as likely 2008 hopefuls such as Newt Gingrich are already taking advantage of the medium.
Given the tremendous buzz generated by blogging throughout 2004, it's not difficult to understand why it made this year's list. If you haven't started blogging, what are you waiting for? A number of free services and open source offerings are available to help you get started. A few of the more popular are listed here:
- Blogger: http://www.blogger.com/
- TypePad: http://www.typepad.com/
- Movable Type: http://www.movabletype.com/
- Serendipity: http://www.s9y.org/
Remember the bad old days of software development? Those bygone times when you used one tool for Web design, another for database schema management, and still another for coding? Wait a second, what do you mean you're still developing like this? Drop everything and check out Eclipse, the hottest development environment out there today.
The project was spearheaded by IBM back in 2001 when it announced the donation of an estimated $40 million in source code to a newly-formed organization dubbed the Eclipse project. Consisting of over 150 prominent open source companies, the project goal was, as it remains today, to build a single platform capable of integrating otherwise disparate development tools coming from a wide number of suppliers.
Although most tend to think of Eclipse as an IDE ideal for building applications using their preferred programming language, it's actually much more than that. More accurately, Eclipse is a universal platform which serves as a basis for building IDEs—or anything else you desire; debuggers, games, data modelers, you name it. This base platform is extended by creating plugins written in Java, allowing developers to take advantage of the rich array of features offered by this mature language. This development strategy has proved an unabashed success, with thousands of plugins being made available for download by developers all over the world. Consider this list of just a few interesting and eclectic plugins:
- Python IDE: http://pydev.sourceforge.net/
- PHP IDE: http://www.phpeclipse.de/
- Hibernate Synchronizer: http://hibernatesynch.sourceforge.net
- CSS Editor: http://csseditor.sourceforge.net/
- Eclipse Instant Messenger: http://eimp.sourceforge.net/