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Feb 18 2007 / Aaron

Lightweight vs Heavyweight

I’ve been looking at a lot of frameworks and platforms and big fat libraries lately to do mainly enterprise distributed messaging and the like. I keep trying to understand these big behemoths and what they do and how they work. I have yet to find a simple tutorial style application that I can whip up in under and hour and feel like I have an inkling of how the technology works.

I keep feeling like I missed the boat. I just can’t grok what these frameworks are all about — they all purport to solve problems and simplify writing these kinds of applications, but I can’t see what problems they actuall solve and where the simplicity lies. To me, it looks like a false-economy. And yet these things are wildly popular. I can’t tell if I’m just not bright enough to get what it’s all about, or if hundreds of thousands of enterprise IT workers have been fooled. Occam’s Razor says that it’s more likely that I’m the dunce. In either case, I hope one of my smart friends can someday explain all this nonsense to me.

I suspect none of these so-called ‘enterprise’ system can actually handle the problem I’m looking to solve. hey simply don’t have the performance or scalability I need. Part of the problem is they are all based around web-centric design and requirements. Secondly, they are over-generalized and bloated abstractions have too much cruft getting in the way to be performant.

What’s been stewing in my brain throughout, is that it may be a matter of personality type. There’s a whole class of developer that works well with big bloated frameworks. I’m from another world … where frameworks are equated with hand-cuffs. What I want are lightweight, small, simple tools. I want small libraries with clear functionality and purpose. I don’t want a big fat framework … just some elegant high-performance messaging libraries. I could have written my own in the time I’ve spent looking for one. I would hate to reinvent the wheel… (actually that kind of thing is very fun, but you know, frowned upon).


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  1. J / Feb 18 2007

    Hmmm, your last comment surprised me a little. Would you agree with this post I just read:
    (My guess is yes.)

    About the frameworks…I bet there’s some good code hiding in there somewhere…the S people can probably find it…maybe by accident.

    I suspect it’s a false economy too…wouldn’t surprise me really…let me know if you figure it out.

  2. Mike J. / Feb 19 2007

    ah, messaging systems vs etl… asynchronous verses synchronous… i agree w/ you 110%. they are “expensive” to implement, maintain and learn.

    i think you have to have a pretty solid business case as to why you would couple your app or process to one.

    i’ve dabbled w/ biztalk and am familiar w/ web methods and sap’s xi, but i still don’t get the big (or little) picture,.

  3. d / Feb 19 2007

    Although i don’t know anything about those specific technologies, i see no reason to assume that they would be helpful for your personal projects.

    Big companies move at a glacial pace — large and immobile go together. You are a firefly in comparison, and given your talent, you can move about 100 times faster than the average cubicle dweller. The IT industry isn’t even remotely similar to CS. For example, they thought PeopleSoft was a brilliant idea, whereas anyone with your tech savvy could plainly see that it was an overbloated big fat tub of goo.

    Big-and-lumbering versus small-and-agile is a recurring theme in many of Paul Graham’s essays (and he’s seen both sides). They can only dream about the advantages you enjoy (but they don’t transfer to mega-projects, like a modern OS).

  4. J / Feb 20 2007

    I’d assumed he was talking about work…where he’d have a good case for a robust framework if such a thing can be found…

  5. Sam / Feb 20 2007

    Sort of like tits versus ass it sounds like. You are who you are.

  6. bui / Mar 1 2007

    I know the feeling. I’m still overwhelmed by J2EE but I love messaging without message beans and all that stuff. If you are in java and want to keep it simple use JMS without EJBs –
    Try for JMS and non java clients.

  7. bui / Mar 2 2007

    And another thing… I think you are right about personality type. It’s the N in INTP that takes you to succintness. I guess you like short books over long ones: Hemingway more than Dickens.

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