What does Industry need from OOP Graduates?

Date/Time:
Wednesday 9 November 2005

Speakers:

  • Bill Gibson of York College
  • Benn Masters of Jade Software Corporation

Description:

Bill Gibson started off the evening from the educational perspective. A survey of students studying OOP showed that most thought the skills learnt were of use and 50% said that they will carry on with it. The tutors have 17 weeks to teach the subject so they can only teach the basics. They need to cover the syllabus but also wish the course to cover what employers want.

The college has found Jade to be a good teaching tool because of its intuitive interface, built in classes are initially hidden, multi-user and web interfacing is easy. Also, the students like to see theory put into practice quickly which is possible thanks to Jade’s rapid application development. As the tool is easy to use it means that the tutor can concentrate on teaching OO rather than teaching how to use the tool.

Bill then posed the following three questions for employers:-

  1. Do you want independent graduates who can learn things?
  2. Do you want people who can use a specific language or people who have the basic set of OO skills that can be transferred?
  3. Do you want multi-disciplined programmers (e.g. who can also do some systems analysis) or “just programmers”?

These questions led into an active discussion. Amongst the items discussed were:

  • Skills learnt using Jade are transferable to e.g. Java.
  • Various structures within business and the interaction with programmers. Some businesses want programmers to write code and nothing else whilst others will want programmers who have business skills and other skills e.g. the ability to teach users about the new software. The role of hybrid managers was discussed.

An overview of Jade

Benn Masters then gave an overview of Jade. It is a language cum database cum middleware which will run on Windows or Linux. It is object oriented across all tiers. (Usually products have an OO front end to a relational database.) Jade excels in complex situations such as logistics or rail networks. It is possible to use a .NET front end and a Jade database via web services.

There is a relational population service (RPS) which means that you can synchronise or populate an SQL database in real time giving flexibility in business. An SDS service means that it can replicate to a secondary database making it robust and you can make changes in the metaschema.

Web services supported by Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Sun and HP. This means that you can use the appropriate technology for a problem.

Benn then went on to discuss service oriented architecture (SOA). One looks at what services a business supplies and how they do it. This is a framework of policies and practices that provides an agile service-based architecture. It may help to bridge the gap between user and developer and give closer alignment of business and IT.

Questions

We ended the evening with some questions for Benn:

  • Nodal architecture gives scalability. You can have the database and application front end on the same or different servers.
  • Do you intend to support interfaces with other databases? We already do SQL. You could use ODBC to e.g. Oracle.
  • Impedence mismatch is a “hot topic” in some circles but Jade has had this for some time.
  • What do Jade look for in graduates? They like people who have been in business and are used to working on projects and delivering in time. Any developer is given an induction on Jade followed by mentoring.
  • What is the syntax like? It is a bit like Pascal.
  • Jade handles many to many very easily.

Conclusions

The evening was very informative and we would like to thank both speakers for instigating an interesting discussion.