Category Archives: Projects

The Beginning Is A Very Difficult Time

This morning was meant to see my start development of one of my project ideas. Maven had other ideas. I’ve been [ab]using Ant for longer than I can remember and would consider myself to be an advanced hacker. The build system at work will automatically switch between building JARs, WARs and EARs based on project structure; a project structure which is based on Maven. It’s not exactly an elegant build system, woe betide the poor bastard that inherits it from me, but it works and adding new projects is very simple.

The use of the Maven project structure stems from a number of years ago where the team I was working with decided that Maven was far too hideously complex to consider using, but had some sensible ideas of project layout. I’ve maintained this view until recently when I decided that perhaps there is a better option than thousands of lines of hand crafted XML to handle our builds. This coincided with me using more and more tools that are build using Maven prompting a decision to start learning how to use it. Since you learn best by doing I began to use Maven for any new projects.

This is the fourth time I’ve used Maven in a project from scratch, or at least it would be had I not been tripped up by something that keeps tripping me up: Maven often requires Internet access; something which, at this moment in time, I don’t really have… and certainly not to the level that I suspect Maven is going to need as it runs off and downloads all the dependencies I’m going to want.

Still, all is not lost. I have a name for the project (something that can often take me days to think up), I know what archetype I want to use and I’ve done a little research into a couple of things I’m going to include in the project just so I can have a go at using them. I’ll create the project over lunch and begin coding this afternoon

Mobile Office

Part of the reason for relaunching my blog was to document and track the start of a few personal projects I want to undertake. Finding time to work on these projects is always fun, especially now there’s a little one running round the house. What I do have, however, is two consistent blocks of 30+ minutes on the train each and every working day. Can I turn this into a mobile office and develop some applications in my spare time?

Well lets look at what I need. Firstly there’s space. Somewhere to actually do the work. While, by habit, I tend to sit in an ‘airline style’ seat (i.e. not a table seat) out of habit there’s no shortage of table seats, even if I have to share it with someone for part of the journey. This is one of the many perks of no longer working in London and living in the sticks.

Secondly I need a development environment. I usually have my MacBook Pro with me, it’s loaded with the tools I generally use (and more can be added) so I’d say that’s sorted.

Thirdly I’m going to need internet for reference, looking for libraries, getting unstuck and humorous cat pictures when things are going badly. That’s not going to be so easy. While I have two iThings with mobile connectivity, both with the ability to tether my laptop to them, the mobile signal on the train is intermittent at best. Between my iPhone and iPad, which exist on two different networks, I have coverage for perhaps 50% of the journey. Annoying if you need to look something up now.

This is not, however, an insurmountable problem. I’m pretty sure that making sure I have a much as possible available to me locally, and by planning what I’m going to do in each chunk I can minimise downtime.

First things first though, I need to decide what I’m going to work on first.