Tales about Aviation, Coaching, Farming, Software Development

Smart brains in Panama

Over the last few months I made a unique experience here in Panama. I had the opportunity to train a team of Panamanian Junior Developers on the Scrum development process and the use of Spring/Hibernate/JMS/JMX/Swing/Lingo and more to build an Option Trading System from scratch. Training was given in Spanish, while communication with management and another Senior Developer was in English.

This work was certainly something special. It allowed to do some reality check in a real life situation on the skill level of Panamanian developers. And for me personally it was special as it was the first time I had to use Spanish in a technology related environment. I believe it turned out very well.

With regards to the Panamanian Junior Developers I have to say: whow! They really had to catch up with a lot of complex stuff that is usually not taught in any university or other institution in Panama. And they did well given the steepest learning curve one can imagine. The project was about an enterprise class application for the financial services industry. We created a standalone server application using the Spring Framework as a replacement for the usual J2EE application server. For the users we created a Swing based desktop application and used JMS to distribute financial data from the server to the client. Our client application talks to the server via Lingo RPC, which is an extension to Spring Remoting to allow you to use JMS as the transport. Other technologies used were JMX to manage internal server processes plus a bit SpringMVC for a webapp to manage users and other resources. For the database layer we used Hibernate and Spring's Hibernate template. To someone who never were exposed to ORM this is a challenge in its own. Adding all the other technologies and new patterns for designing an application it creates an exciting environment. And the Panamanians - straight out of school - not only had to learn these technologies, but the problem domain as well, did very well.

I do hope they will proceed on that way and I am certain they will become world-class developers really soon.

For me this means I have now much more time on my hands to work on the book project about Acegi Security. It was planned a few months ago, but I was too busy to get started. Now that my engagement with the team of my client is reduced to a few questions here and there I can concentrate on writing. It's another "first" for me as it's my first book project.

Nonetheless at some point I need to find a new commercial project again. I would love to train a team on the Scrum development process, test-driven development/design or some of the technologies I have expert knowledge in. Or - even better - assemble a new team of Panamanians and do an offshore project for a US/Canadian company. As I can tell first hand, Panama has a lot of smart brains. You don't have to go to India and can take advantage of a team located within the same time-zone as yourself.

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