# Maintenance cost vs Development cost

The cost of a new integration is outweighed by the cost of maintainence

When we first started building Interlok we had a very clear design goal; it’s about the lowering the cost of maintenance as opposed to lowering the cost of new development. It’s simply a happy by-product of our design goals that the cost of integrating a new system is lowered as well. When faced with a classic integration problem; whether or not it’s customer facing or just integrating various back-end systems; once you have the process up, running and in production; the maintenance of that integration is going to be the major cost factor.

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# No Big Bangs

Integration isn’t a big bang deployment exercise.

The kind of project I love is the kind that is small in scope; you have a tricky piece of integration that you can’t do with your current piece of software. It starts off small, but when you see the business value, you start using the software more and more. We had exactly this kind of project about 10 years ago. The customer put our software in place, and the first time we hear from them again was Jan 2015. Their license had expired. They had never upgraded; they’d never raised any support calls; our software had been working quite happily in the background extracting and sending all their documents. For me; this is great advert for Interlok. It just works.

# Character set woes

Applications not respecting character sets

Character encoding can be the bane of your life when you’re doing integration. It’s all fine and dandy when you’re dealing with the US-ASCII character set, but it all goes wrong when you start dealing with internationalised data. Even worse, there are situations where the source data is a mix of 2 different character encodings and you get 2 different byte representations for the same character. This is down to the source application not respecting encoding properly; screwing it all up.

# Unison on Centos 7

Why isn’t Unison in the EPEL repository for CentOS 7

I generally use unison to keep my work environment on various machines in sync. I use it like a poor man’s Dropbox in effect; call me old fashioned but I don’t tend to use any cloud storage provider for security reasons. Unison means that it is trivial for me to move between my main development environment and other platforms, but as a project it appears to be unloved. I’ve recently installed a couple of instances of CentOS 7 in my test lab, and unison isn’t provided; it’s not in in the epel repository either.

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# How To Be a Developer

The things you do to become a better developer

I’ve been doing development now for a long time; I enjoy it, and it’s something that I’m good at; that statement could easily be switched around, I’m good at it, so I enjoy it. Regardless of how it is now, it was still something that I had to learn how to be good at it. For me it was always about acquiring a set of skills and a methodology for approaching a problem. These are the things where simple things like having been taught how to learn can help. I learnt Modula-2 at university; of less use than COBOL in the real world; but it taught me how to learn a new language, and I’ve applied that knowledge everywhere I’ve worked. The skillset that you acquire through your career will be quite varied but the methodology is always invariably the same.

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