perspective Technology

Context Switching

It’s expensive, mentally and resourcefully, but it’s rewarding. It also isn’t easy, which is probably why it’s not advocated by the populous, but it is rewarding. And it’s filled with all sorts of risks and dangers, but definitely rewarding. Rewarding if you get it right.

After months on Rails (web), Python (web), Objective C (iPhone) and C# (web) projects, i’ve settled my teeth into a juicy little BlackBerry project. It’s taken a lot of mental effort to switch, and in particular, switching to the following:
* the language: Java. New syntax, keywords and run-time nuances in memory management
* the frameworks J2ME and RIM: what do they offer where are all the packages
* the IDE (Eclipse): how does it work and how to customize your environment/experience, and then what else does it offer that no other IDE to date has offered
* the BlackBerry device: where, what, how does it do the things it does
* the unit tests (jmunit cross bunit): new language, new platform, new test harness, same procedures (more or less)
* runtime debugging tools with the simulator and component packs
* mobile development: patterns, architectures, design and development principles
* the UI: a whole new playing field where the only place in the world Managers are your friends
* automated building and testing (still getting there)
* code control and IDE integration

Every day is filled to the brim with slow progress punctuated by episodes of breakthrough bubbles, although a the days wear on, the bubbles are more frequent and the productivity increases naturally on a curve on its own.

The end result: another framework, platform, language, set of tools available at my fingertips to enable me to express a solution to a problem and then successfully execute that solution without too much limitation.

Spin-offs include restless nights, lots of “aarrggg’s”, a lot of debugging and a whole lot more muttering which usually starts with “now how do you do that?”. And that right there has been one of the greatest little nuggets- tackling a project like a n00b, a grom; with all the enthusiasm naivety brings, but with experience (ok, age).