Every week here and in our newsletter, we feature a new developer/blogger from the DZone community to catch up and find out what he or she is working on now and what's coming next. This week we're talking to Nicolas Frankel, IT consultant with 10 years experience in Java and JEE environments. Some of his most recent DZone posts include:
1. What have you been working on lately?
In my day job, I'm working on a major reworking of the main application for a worldwide blue-chip company. During the other part of the day, I'm preparing my next book, about Integration Testing. I feel this area has been hugely neglected in regard to Unit Testing and when it's not, there are some misconceptions about the subject. If interested, you can register on the page to follow my progress and give me feedback or follow @itfromtrenches for info related to Integration Testing and Testing
2. You're a lecturer and author as well. What impact has that had on you as a software developer?
It is my experience that during a project, it's very common to fix something with only a vague understanding of why it works, because deadlines prevent us to dig deeper. Giving away courses and writing books are very similar in that they require you to go that extra mile: since you're explaining to someone else, you just have to understand every detail of what you're describing.
Teaching just makes you better as a software developer! This is something that sems to be shared among programmers that are also teachers, and I definitely would encourage software engineers to follow this path at one time or another.
3. Are there any particular developer tools or resources you couldn't live without?
There are always tools that make my life easier (e.g. JRebel), but to be really frank, as a consultant, I could not always choose (or use) them, due to lack of licenses, no admin rights on the computer and so on. All in all, I can manage with only an IDE, a debugger and Firebug/Chrome; of course, this has a huge impact on my productivity. However, I don't understand companies that still put restrictions on Internet access (yeah, some still unfortunately do that), this is definitely mandatory!
4. Do you have a favorite open source project (or projects) that you've contributed to recently?
As I am focused on my book, my contributions are currently limited but I found the time to provide a proof-of-concept for the Spring Vaadin integration library. Two of my favorite projects, Spring and Vaadin, are joining forces to provide an integration component. I've been following Spring Vaadin integration attempts since a very long time, but I think this is finally something promising.
5. Do you follow any blogs or Twitter feeds that you would recommend to developers?
The scope of a software engineer is becoming larger and larger every day, it's hard to keep up. For Twitter feeds, I tend to focus on a narrow set of "no fluff just stuff" accounts. Beside Twitter, I've subscribed to some nice RSS feeds: reddit.com/r/programming, reddit.com/r/java, InfoQ (and its younger french counterpart InfoQ FR) and of course DZone.
6. Did you have a coding first love -- a particular program, gadget, game, or language that set you on the path to life as a developer?
I come from a non-computer scientist background, though I dabbled into what I called programming at the time using Basic and Turbo-Pascal. However, what put me on the developer path is the POV-Ray ray-tracer software. Basically, you design 3D scenes, but instead of using a graphical UI, you only have a text editor to describe the scene. You may not call it programming but I spent so much time playing with POV-Ray that I don't care: it was love at first time.
7. Is there anything else you'd like to mention?
I'm very happy and proud to be a developer in this time and age. I still remember I played Pong when I was a child, and nowadays nearly everyone one can ask his phone for directions, keep in touch with his friends around the world and teach himself biology and psychology. As developers, we do have the power to change the world for the better!