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Java Developer Idolizes .NET

In the spirit of the back-to-school season, which is now upon us, I thought I'd share a story about how Gautam Arora, a Georgia Tech graduate student, spent his summer. Arora spent 11 weeks as a paid intern at Morgan Stanley, where he helped bridge the gap between the .NET-based order generation process used by portfolio managers with operational systems that are built in Java.

It's worth noting that Arora, a native of Bombay, India and currently attending Georgia Tech, is a Java developer who came to New York this summer with no prior .NET programming experience.

The clincher though, was that his project outshined presentations of five other seasoned developers who all outlined their own respective programming case studies at an "American Idol"-themed bakeoff called "Speaker Idol," held by the New York City .NET User Group last month.

During Arora's 10-minute presentation to a room full of local developers, held at Microsoft's midtown offices, Arora, who was the last of the six presenters, described his project. When he began his summer internship at Morgan Stanley's Investment Management group, the firm's asset management unit, he took on the task of providing better interoperability between the trade-order generation tools used by portfolio managers developed in Visual Basic for Applications with Microsoft Office as a front end and disparate Java-based back-end systems.

Arora said replacing Office with a Java-based UI was not an option. "Office in the enterprise is ubiquitous, it's familiar, it's powerful and extensible -- why take it away from my users and try to make a Java UI?" Arora explained.

As a result, he spent six weeks building reusable services oriented applications using Visual Studio Tools for Office. The SOA-based components provide connectivity between Office Business Applications and Java-based backend infrastructures such as IBM's DB2 and Sybase databases. Those repositories are typically non-Windows-based, running on Linux and Apache servers.

VSTO's rapid application development environment allowed him to create .NET services that could be consumed by different Java-based systems, Arora said. The goal was to improve the business process of how trade orders are generated. "It provides access to business process services in a standards-based approach," he said of the way processes are defined in VSTO.

"The code is not just written in VBA [where just] one portfolio manager is going to use it," he said. "[Now] everybody is going to use it; it will run on a Java back-end."

To build the order generator, Arora used VSTO 2003 using C# and WinForms. On the back-end he used Sun Microsystems Java EE -- Apache CXF, JAXB, Hibernate, Spring, and Apache Tomcat, among other tools.

In an interview following his presentation, Arora told me the biggest challenge was that he had never used .NET or Visual Studio before. "I'm a Java developer at heart," Arora said, though he said he did not encounter any difficulty figuring out .NET and VSTO. "It's a different world, but it's been very nice."

Does that make Arora a .NET convert? "I can think of some use cases where I might expand on my .NET experience," he said.

Arora was the only student in the competition. The six developers showed a variety of programming efforts ranging from the use of F# to arithmetic algorithms, before a panel of four judges: Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at twentysix New York; blogger Mary Jo Foley; Peter Laudati, a developer evangelist and Kathleen McGivney, a software consultant. Stephen Forte, chief strategy officer at Telerik, organized and moderated the event.

"We thought his presentation was the most broad-based, well rounded and he did the best job of conveying a business case, and really explaining it clearly," Brust said of the panel's decision to name Arora the winner. The prize: an Xbox 360.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 08/13/2008 at 1:15 PM


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