.NET Core or Java? Choosing the Right Technology Stack for Your Budget

October 1, 2020 / in Tech Advice, / by number8

.NET Core or Java? Choosing the Right Technology Stack for Your Budget

There's a lot to consider when choosing a technology stack for your organization. This article won't cover everything, but it will help you answer one of the biggest questions:

Will .NET Core or Java cost more? 

The Open-Source History of .NET Core and Java

A lot of free products and frameworks were built using Java as their core technology during the open-source boom. This was due to the multi-platform capabilities provided by the Java Virtual Machine and their write-once/run everywhere premise. Since then, the open-source community has grown tremendously and many of its members have become not only Java developers, but Java enthusiasts. Now, many of those same people work as decision-makers and manage large IT departments and projects. As time went by, Microsoft noticed how behind they were in the open-source world and how discredited they were within the open-source community. This disrupted the Microsoft development ecosystem and caused them to launch .NET Core with the same premises as Java: write once/run everywhere (or almost everywhere).

Nowadays, Java and .NET Core are not a developer's only options. There are plenty of different technologies for different focuses and different goals. However, the discussion about portability remains for these two stacks. Both .NET Core and Java applications can run on Linux or Windows and choosing which stack is right for your organization will most likely require a deep analysis. Part of that analysis should be that Java isn't free anymore, but .NET Core promises to be free for a long time. 

Oracle's Java Runtime Environment isn't Free Anymore, but .NET Core Promises to be Free for a Long Time

Since the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle, a lot of things have changed and Sun’s commitment to open source seems to have weakened. A signal of this is the recent licensing changes that Oracle introduced to the Java Runtime Environment. If you are a developer or you want to use the runtime environment non-commercially, you don't have to pay for it. But, if you are a company or you intend to use your Java-based software commercially, you do have to pay for a license. .NET Core doesn't have any kind of licensing costs for it's runtime environment.

You may be thinking about the other factors, aside from pricing, involved in this decision. But, I caution you not to discount the importance of pricing. While a large company should be able to afford all of the required licensing for a Java-based deployment, giving them the ability to leverage the robustness and matureness of the Java platform, this often isn't the case for startups or small businesses. .NET Core's performance improvements (remember that it is a full rewrite of many .NET components), portability, and zero cost provide a great solution for budget-conscious organizations.

Wait a minute! There are free Java Runtime Environments like OpenJDK that could be used! Yes, technically that's true, but let’s be honest, what company would replace a mature and fully supported platform like Oracle’s JRE for an open-source project?

It All Comes Down to What's Important to Your Organization

This discussion isn't intended to persuade anyone to switch to .NET Core. I'm simply advising decision-makers to consider the platform. Aside from price, I do believe the platform has a lot of great benefits and will ultimately end up surprising even Java enthusiasts with its capabilities. On the other hand, if you're an experienced Java developer or your company has large Java-based solutions that make Oracle's JRE too compelling to pass up, my suggestion is to plan and budget for the costs in the beginning. Overall, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for this kind of decision. Put in front of you what you want to benefit from and then decide how much you're willing to pay. 

Click to learn more or download .NET Core

Click to learn more or download Java SE  

 

Photograph of Author Luis Carnizares

About the Author:

Luis Canizares is a senior .NET developer with 15 years of experience in a variety of development roles including, software developer, team lead, architect and project leader. He has been a number8 consultant for the past 2 years.     

Looking to add an experienced .NET Developer to your team?

number8 can help with that. Connect with us today or continue exploring all of our custom software development and remote staff augmentation services here.

5 Podcasts Every Software Developer Should Check Out

August 27, 2020 / in Software Development, / by Number8

Podcasts have dramatically increased in output and popularity in recent years. They have gone from providing an interesting educational background track for your commute, workout, or house chores to addressing niche topics in an engaging and accessible manner. Luckily, the influx of new podcasts means that there’s something for everyone. There are a number of great Software Development podcasts for professional developers, students, and laypeople alike. In this post, we will provide an overview of some top picks.

Syntax

Web developers Wes Bos and Scott Tolinski have created this long running podcast for other web developers. In 2019, Overcast listed it as a top 20 technology podcast. In the podcast, they delve into CSS, Javascript, Wordpress, and Software Design/Methodologies. They also share tips on work/life balance, self-improvement, mental health, and how to build a small business. Often comical, this podcast breaks down complex information into useful nuggets of information, or “tasty treats” as they call it. Therefore, Syntax is a must-listen for any developers who want to expand their skills while listening to entertaining conversations.

Developer Tea

With over 13 million downloads, Developer Tea is another smash-hit podcast. Run by Jonathan Cutrell, co-founder of Spec and developer at Clearbit, it is designed to fit into the duration of a tea break. According to its website, it “exists to help driven developers connect to their ultimate purpose and excel at their work”. In short, this podcast is great for those with a busy schedule seeking relevant insight beyond just technical issues.

Coding Blocks

Another highly-rated podcast is Coding Blocks. Professional programmers Allen Underwood, Michael Outlaw, and Joe Zack host the show. This podcast is unique in that it provides a number of alternative resources for listeners. For instance, they include videos, informative articles, episode summaries, a newsletter, and links to tips and tricks referenced in the podcast. As a result, these alternative tools can be great for developers-in-training or visual learners. Also, the amount of dedication and passion put into this podcast is obvious and refreshing.

Software Engineering Daily

Run by software engineer Jeff Meyerson, this daily podcast is especially focused on addressing new trends and cutting-edge technologies. Meyerson has also interviewed a diverse group of relevant business leaders, such as Facebook Execs and Cryptocurrency investors. Overall, this podcast is a must listen for anyone seeking to keep up with the front-lines of technology and software development.

Cloudcast

Founded in 2011, Cloudcast is one of the oldest and most reputable software engineering podcasts. According to their website, “Co-hosts Aaron Delp and Brian Gracely have interviewed technology and business leaders that are shaping the future of computing. Topics will include Cloud Computing, Open Source, AWS, Azure, GCP, Serverless, DevOps, Big Data, ML, AI, Security, Kubernetes, AppDev, SaaS, PaaS, CaaS, IoT.” Cloudcast has continually remained at the front lines of technology podcasts. Intimidated? Fortunately, you can look through years of content on their website’s comprehensive archive. Podcast statistics suggest that nearly one third of the U.S. population listens to a podcast once a month and just under a quarter listen weekly. So, with over 850K active podcasts currently available and new ones entering the market all the time, we'll be adding new recommendations to this list in the months ahead. We are an information technology company with years of experience. We have helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

How To Create A Positive Remote Work Culture

August 6, 2020 / in Remote Workers, / by Number8

In these times of uncertainty, many teams and companies have gone remote. Because of this, many people are making big transitions. Going from working in an office, which is typically a controlled environment focused mainly on work, to working from home, where there can be many distractions and less support from coworkers, presents unique challenges. However, there are simple ways to create a remote work culture that supports coworkers and is conducive to productivity. When working with others remotely, there is a heightened need for communication and trust. In order to build a remote work culture that includes both of those things, there are certain measures that many remote workers find useful. In this article, we will look at some ways in which you can create a positive remote work culture for you and your team.

5 Things You Can Do To Make Remote Work Culture Better

Whether you are a business owner, manager or team lead, you likely already know the important role a positive work culture has on the ways employees and clients perceive you and your company. While it may sound overly simplistic, happy employees and happy customers are often at the heart of any successful business. Creating a positive work culture at the office during face to face interaction may present different challenges and opportunities than the current remote work environment. Follow along for five ways in which you can build a positive remote work culture for yourself and your team.

1. Communicate the goals and mission of your team clearly

When a team is working remotely, especially if this is a newer development, listing out your short-term and long-term goals, as well as clearly going over the mission of the team is very important. This gives everyone a sense of being on the same page and allows everyone to understand exactly where they are headed. Developing purpose and maintaining a sense of order are more important than anything in these uncertain times.

2. Keep an open line of communication

Being available and openly communicating with your team makes all the difference. Whether it be an email thread or a group text message, or even daily or weekly Zoom calls, being there and discussing matters at hand is important. It will not only keep productivity levels up, but it will also encourage your team to come together and work as one.

3. Establish a schedule that works for everyone

Whether your remote team is all working in the same city or from different parts of the world, having a set schedule that works for everyone is crucial. This shows your team that everyone matters and they are equally involved. Now, it may be a bit difficult to do, but even if everyone has different schedules, try to compromise week by week. Make sure everyone feels that their time has value.

4. Set clear expectations and lead by example

Working remotely has its perks, like a more flexible schedule. But make sure that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them and then lead by example. Keep up your end of the deal and follow through on your promises.

5. Make sure to leave some time for fun

Celebrate victories with a virtual cocktail party or host a virtual game day. Something that shows your team that you care and you want them to enjoy their work. Building a positive remote work culture is crucial for the success of any company. Your team must feel unified, even from afar. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, this will be relevant. Practices for remote team building will likely continue to be of great interest to many businesses. We are an information technology company with years of experience. We have helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

Safely Reopening the Office: James Ludwig’s TED Talk Insights

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the structure of businesses all over the world. Companies have scrambled to create temporary fixes, from work-from-home options to layoffs to total shutdowns. With no end in sight, uncertainty pervades the workplace. Recorded June 16th, this new TED talk could not be more relevant. James Ludwig, vice president of global design and product engineering at the office supply company Steelcase, engages in conversation with TED curator Chee Pearlman about the long term future of organizations. Here are some notable insights into the talk and James' perspective on the future and potential reopening.

3 Insights About The Workplace Illuminated By The COVID-19 Pandemic

1. This is a massive technological shift and generation-defining moment

Ludwig proposes the idea that there is “now, the near, and the far” for companies. We are only just beginning to understand and approach the “now”, which is to remain safe within the pandemic. The near is how companies will return to the physical workplace, if ever. The far, long-lasting impacts of this crisis are not yet conceptualized. Ludwig refers to this time as an “experiment” for companies, and in a sense, it is. It is a test of resiliency at all levels, from employees to CEOs. But, it is also an opportunity for change.

2. People need to physically collaborate and connect to sustain most workplaces

Ludwig makes the claim that it’s simply unsustainable for most companies to stay remote forever. He emphasizes that being together as a team shapes the culture of brands. Competitive advantage is formed through this culture, through interpersonal connection and cultivation. For many businesses, Zoom meetings and emails can’t recreate the ecosystem of a good team. Connecting as individuals, pushing each other and learning from each other, sharing food and humor, growing and adapting together—this is what makes a good workplace.

3. Now is the time to see what is truly essential for offices when reopening

Taking a step away from the cookie-cutter workplace allows the opportunity for tremendous positive change. We can delve into individual-focused design that supports employee wellbeing both physically and mentally. Companies have the chance to be creative and strip away redundancies that hinder productivity and safety. Additionally, how businesses respond to future crises is contingent on how workplaces are shaped right now. To follow up with this point, Ludwig lays out what is essential to the generations of now and the future. He sees a technologically-rich, human-centric environment with strong values that connect individuals as key. Ludwig claims that after the pandemic is over, people will continue to lean into what is authentic and fulfilling in the workplace. After spending months in lockdown working from your couch, you get a better grasp of what is really necessary to be productive and what you sincerely miss about your office. A high-walled cubicle or private office may now seem constrictive. So, looking for the insights during this unusual time seems to be a good strategy for organizations. While quarantines and forced remote work scenarios have challenged many, this time also presents unique learning opportunities.

Questions to Consider

Here are just a few questions to think about as you work to gain greater insight into the impact COVID-19 has had on you and your work. What redundancies can you identify in your work processes that may slow down productivity? Also, are there things you miss about working in an office environment that you previously took for granted? What components of your work flow are most important to keep you productive, organized and happy? Are there long term changes would you like to see implemented at your company or on your team, that were inspired by this pandemic? Plus, what does a thriving office culture look like after reopening? Asking these questions will help ensure a strong organization, and safe reopening if and when the time is right. We are an information technology company with years of experience. We have helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

Microsoft Edge: What to Know About Microsoft’s New Browser

July 23, 2020 / in IT Trends, / by Number8

Known for cutting edge technological innovation, Microsoft is always coming up with something new. In January 2020 the company released its new Edge browser. This is a spin off of Chromium, which is an open-source program. Microsoft Edge is very much like the predecessor, Chrome, and in fact supports the Chrome browser extension and has the same rendering engine.

Microsoft Edge Rollout

The next step is for automatic updates of Windows 10 with the new product, Edge. Similar to the updates for Chrome, Edge will be updated every six weeks. If you don’t want to wait for the update, you can download Edge from Microsoft’s website. The old Edge, now named Legacy, will still be in the system. The logo for the new version of Edge is a blue and green swirl as opposed to the Legacy blue E. What if you don’t want Edge? If this is the case, you need to go to the Microsoft website and download the Chromium Edge update blocker toolkit. However, Windows 10 users will automatically get this new browser that promises an open-source rendering engine, more frequent updates, and better support from websites. Bing is also encouraging Chrome users to use Edge. Further, Microsoft is initiating a campaign proposing Edge rather than Mozilla’s Firefox.

Edge vs. Chrome

History sync and extension sync are not implemented but promised for a later release. You’ll still find favorites, settings, passwords, and so on. New features include Collections which will let you gather images and material but prevent tracking. In addition, new Edge will support 4K Netflix with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, all of which is an improvement over Chrome. Edge also includes three different blocking levels with the default blocking trackers from sites you have not yet loaded. More track blockers could also result in failure to load all or a part of some sites you want to see. Microsoft is banking on the fact that most users will prefer the privacy of the blocks while still remaining web compatible. These differences, plus some other features, have a lot of people looking to Edge as a viable Chrome alternative.

Additional Features

Speaking of compatibility, Edge for Windows 7 is also planned for release. Windows 7 is generally out of the support range, but Microsoft has committed its support for another year or so. Edge will work on Windows 8.1 and macOS, Android and iOS. Future plans include a version of Linux. Another nice feature offered by Edge is vertical tabs. If you have a tendency to open lots and lots of tabs, it becomes difficult to read and easy to close the wrong one(s). Vertical tabs promise to be simpler to manage with only a single click. Smart Copy will allow you to retain the format from the original material as you copy and paste it into your personal document. This will include images and links. So if you are prone to quote web text, you will enjoy this feature. Password Monitor is designed to help prevent password theft. It will alert you to any attempt to gain access to your autofilled usernames and passwords. Edge will search for matches to your data and notify you of any potential problems. You can then proactively make the appropriate changes before problems occur and have more confidence in your usage. Finally, the Immersive Reader feature is notable. This will be helpful for individuals with reading and learning differences. It will allow the user to adjust the text for easier readability and have the material read aloud. More updates on this feature are planned. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

Common Misconceptions About Staff Augmentation

Staff augmentation has become popular in recent years. Being a new concept, there are certain things that people don’t understand about it. Simply put, staff augmentation is a way that a company fills the gaps between the skills they possess and those that they lack to complete a certain project by means of hiring temporary help. Companies often try to just redistribute workload to cover the area that is missing. However, by doing this, they are only taking away from the regular tasks they have and often won't get the end results that they want from the new project.

Answers to 4 Common Misconceptions about Staff Augmentation

Why do companies choose to flounder instead of looking for outside help through staff augmentation? Many people still have misconceptions and don’t exactly understand the idea, or they are simply unaware of the concept entirely. Continue reading to hear about the truth behind these misconceptions.

“It is a waste of money or more expensive than permanent employment.”

Many employers believe that since augmented staff is often paid by the hour rather than salary, it comes out to be more expensive. Some also believe that it does not save the company any money to contract someone just for one project. Looking at the comparison of the augmented staff’s hourly pay compared to the salary of permanent employees can be deceiving because this does not look at the whole picture. In reality, hiring augmented staff can help bypass in-house costs that it would take to search for, hire, and train a new member of the team. “There is too much risk and no long-term benefits.” Teams sometimes think hiring augmented staff is risky. They may be hesitant to relinquish power over certain projects. Or, they might not believe that someone working remotely will follow through on their promises. They may even be worried about work quality. However, staff augmentation teams are specifically trained to acclimate to different environments. This includes effectively working with varied teams and types of people. After all, this is their job—to work on one project and then move to another company or team. They are used to adapting and achieving goals within deadlines.

“Communicating and managing an augmented staff is too difficult.”

Because augmented staff often works remotely, many people believe that communication and management is more difficult. However, if you can keep open communication by way of email, phone calls, or virtual meetings, everything will be fine. Augmented staff expects to be very responsive and communicative, looking for opportunities to align with teams and increase efficiencies and productivity.

“Technical support is just as constructive.”

While technical support can be helpful, staff augmentation fulfills a different role. Staff augmentation actually brings in another person and skillset to help with a project. In contrast, technical support aids people already on the team with technical issues. Staff augmentation can provide benefits to many different types of businesses and teams. Companies can approach projects in a more dynamic and successful manner. They can meet more aggressive deadlines and objectives. Really, the questioning of staff augmentation isn’t about whether or not it is a good idea. It's about who provides the best services for the specific skillsets you are seeking. Not all staff augmentation services are equal, though. You have to find experienced staff augmentation companies with successful track records in a given sector. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

Tools for Transitioning to a Remote Workspace

In recent months, many companies have moved from the office to working from home. Working remotely can be great, but it’s important to be aware of how to create a remote workspace conducive to productivity. When we work from home we have many distractions that weren’t present in the office. Distractions from your day to day home life may impact your workday, which can make it a bit difficult to concentrate on everything you need to get done. When working remotely, there are several things to take into consideration. One is the space in which you are working. While you may not put much thought into it, this is something that can truly make or break your work from home experience. Some people believe that working remotely means that you can work from anywhere in the house such as the kitchen table or even your living room couch. However tempting that may be, you are more than likely not going to get as much work done on your sofa as you would in a well thought-out office space.

5 Tips To Make Your Home Work Space As Productive As Possible

Do you need to create a home work environment that is as conducive to work as possible so that you can get all of your work done easily and in a timely fashion? Follow along for some tips and tools that you can use when transitioning to a remote workspace as an office.

1. Keep your remote workspace clean and free of clutter

This is an important tip because the less clutter there is in your workspace, the less distraction. Also, many people find it much easier to concentrate when they are working in a clean area. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Cluttered spaces have negative effects on our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus, our eating choices, and even our sleep”. Given this, you can easily imagine how having a cluttered workspace would affect your productivity.

2. Select tools that will help you feel comfortable

Whether it is a nice chair to sit in while you work, or even a standing desk, ensuring that you are comfortable in your remote workspace is vital for productivity. Furthermore, your space should be efficient. Have everything you need close to you so that you do not have to constantly get up and look for the stapler or a pen. You should have a comfortable place to sit (or stand). Additionally, your laptop should be eye level so that you are not hunched over all day. This will make for a much more enjoyable work day.

3. Make sure you choose a quiet remote workspace with enough light

When working from home, especially if you live with family or other people, there can be many distractions. Resist the urge to shut yourself in a closet—your workspace should be comfortable and have enough light so that you do not strain your eyes while working. If you have a spare room that you can equip with a desk, or even put a desk in your bedroom and shut the door during your workday, then you are more likely to get things done. Having people in and out all day can be quite a distraction, so for your work’s sake, keep it quiet.

4. Establish clear boundaries with family and friends

Just because you are at home does not mean that you are always going to be easily accessible if you are trying to work from home. It is important that you communicate clearly to loved ones, family and friends, about your needs and expectations while trying to work from home. Ongoing interruptions can really cost you a lot of time and lead to frustration. Finding ways to limit these distractions with a plan and forthright communication is at the heart of a successful remote workspace.

5. Create a beginning and an end to your work day

Depending on the type of work that you do, it is possible to experience a work from home environment as never-ending. You can fall into a rut of always being “on call” and never really feel like you are at home or at work fully. Given this, it makes sense to establish a beginning and an end to your work day, with clear rituals that help you make the transition. Sometimes simple things like a cup of coffee, or organizing your desk, can help get you ready for to begin or to wrap up a work day. When transitioning from the office to home, it can be quite a big change. However, many tips and tools like the ones shared above can help make the experience positive and productive. There is not one right way to create a home environment that is conducive to work. Try various approaches to find the right one for your situation and personal effectiveness. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

Web Accessibility: An Overview

Web accessibility is an important concept that every company should use to inform practice. Making sure your digital presence is accessible is an important part of doing social good, improving business outcomes, and engaging more deeply with a wider audience. Here’s a brief overview.

What is web accessibility?

The Web Accessibility Initiative states that ‘Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.’ The web, in many ways, is a fundamentally accessible idea. The benefits of this accessibility positively impact the experiences of people with disabilities. They also help people with situational limitations (like bright lighting or a lack of audio capability), people using mobile devices, people with slower internet, and more. This is important to think about in the context of disability as a social construction in the physical world. We know that there are structural barriers that exist in the world which prevent equal access to institutions and experiences for some people. The decisions we make about what is worth designing around are fundamentally biased. These decisions inform the environments we construct in the world, and the ways we exclude or include people with different abilities. As a virtual space, the web has the incredible potential to remove barriers to interaction and access that exist in the physical world. This means a lot of potential for a positive social impact. However, any web design must carefully take accessibility into account for this goal to be achieved.

The why

Motivating factors for web accessibility are numerous and include legal, business, and ethical reasons. Some laws have minimum requirements for government websites and educational institutions’ websites. Additionally, some industries or individual organizations have existing guidelines for best practice beyond legal minimum requirements. These types of motivating factors often drive organizations to compliance-level accessibility. Organizations that deem the negative impacts of non-compliance too great a risk often invest in compliance. Some organizations want to pursue web accessibility because of its business benefits. More usable and appealing web tools and content often mean more engaged customers and stakeholders, an increased market reach, and brand enhancement. The why for some groups is also informed by what they think is right for social good. Organizations that see web accessibility as a way to make the world a more equitable place often want to invest their time and capital.

How to become accessible on the web

There are several levels of design and development where accessibility is important. These include development, content creation, SEO, project management, and more. Your organization's approach will also depend on your immediate context; incorporating accessible design from the beginning of a project is much different than retrofitting a design as an interim measure. Additionally, you may need to build skills and expertise in your team to implement web accessibility. Fortunately, there are a lot of great resources to guide you as you strive for greater accessibility. Here’s a list of a few resources to start with: As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

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