Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Stop Working On Mobile Go

It's time to say good bye to my Mobile Go users. I'm not going to work on this project because I am tired of so many smartphone OS. I have decided not spending time on working for any of them. I simply just want to enjoy my life. Hope all Mobile Go users still enjoy playing Go.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

About Game Protocol

I called the game protocol Evolutionary Generic Game Protocol (EGGP). I like the name EGG because egg is my son's favourite food. I just use EGGP as the protocol's name for now. EGGP is heavily relied on XML, so an XML parser and XML editor is necessary to my development environment.

Since EGGP is based on Go Text Protocol (GTP) version 2 draft 2, which is GNU open source, I will release EGGP under GNU later as well.

Rebuilding Server

I have actually finished drafting the game protocol since two weeks ago. However, I was busy on setting up virtual machine and migrating my web server to the virtual machine. I have to do so because my web server is so old (It was build with Intel P3 1n 2001). I'm worry that I have to rebuild the whole system if hardware fails because I don't think it's easy to find an identical hardware now. I tried restoring from backup with various hardware configurations that I have right now, but none of them worked. Eventually I gave up restoring. It is easier to rebuild whole system. Due to the fact that my web server can only run on older Linux distribution (actually on Python2.1), I have to stick with RedHat8.0. This is why I have to host my server on a virtual machine.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Working On Protocol

I'm working on the core go protocol. I'm inspired by Go Text Protocol (GTP) version 2 even though GTP is mainly used for computer to computer comunication. There are few issues need to address:
  • Character set - Unicode
  • Encoding - in UTF8
  • Transportation format - in XML, particularly in DOM

Friday, 15 May 2009

Let's Coding

Finally, it comes to the most exciting phase - coding. I'm going to implement the basic services (Game and Message) on PCs with J2SE, the management services (Account, Billing, Feedback, Rating and Ranking, etc.) on servers with J2EE or JSP, and eventually the basic services on mobile phones with J2ME. The primary programing language will be Java, which I have never ever written an application with. I believe it will be a very very interesting experience.

My next steps will be:
  • To implement a set of core classes that will be used for testing my design
  • To develop application protocols that will be used for communication among different components. Game Protocol should be the first one due to the nature of my project.
  • To build an environment that will allow me creating and testing my system.

I didn't realize that I was running an very old version of Red Hat Linux on two aged machines as my home servers until recently. It seems like I have to update my servers as well. There are enough work to do for now. Don't stop, just keep going. :)

Monday, 11 May 2009

Next Stop: JXTA - An Open Platform for P2P

While I was researching on different P2P technologies, JXTA came to my attention. "JXTA (Juxtapose) is an open source peer-to-peer protocol specification begun by Sun Microsystems in 2001. Sun remains actively involved in the development and promotion of JXTA. The JXTA protocols are defined as a set of XML messages which allow any device connected to a network to exchange messages and collaborate independently of the underlying network topology. JXTA is the most mature[citation needed] general purpose P2P framework currently available and was designed to allow a wide range of devices - PCs, mainframes, cell phones, PDAs - to communicate in a decentralized manner." (Quoted from Wikipedia

JXTA is indeed language-independent. There are C/C++, J2SE and J2ME implementation available for now. JXTA is also platform-independent. It can be implemented on different OS platforms. Simply speaking, it is an open technology just like TCP/IP. It sounds perfect, doesn't it? I think it fits into my project because:

  • It is an open and generic purpose P2P technology - It defines a set of protocols that developers can use to build almost any P2P application. At the same time, these protocols are flexible enough to be easily adapted to application-specific requirements.
  • It is platform-independent - This is one of my project's goal.
  • It is open sourced - Sweet and smile.

However, some concerns and uncertainties still exist.

  • Is JXTA going to be improved over a long time?
  • Is JXTA going to be surviving given that Sun will be purchased by Oracle?

I've checked JXTA's developers list and list of projects which are using JXTA. I didn't find one significant enough to attract public attention. Is it still too early to adopt an new technology as JXTA? I don't know. I'm not worry about Java, but I'm worry about those guys who are contributing to JXTA project. Without the major supporter Sun, is JXTA able to grow?

Any ways, I know what I'm going to do now. I was inspired by P2P technology. I have decided that my system should be easily integrated with P2P, or should not be tied to a single architecture, e.g. client/server technology, at least when it comes to design phase. A new design class diagram is done. An abstract network/message layer, which will be implemented according to actual underline network, was added. Hopefully this design is flexible enough to be implemented in the future.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

P2P or C/S? It Is Not Just A Technical Consideration

I have been always thinking the architecture of new system should ideally not be pure Client/Server because of the concern that

  1. server's operating cost potentially will be very high, and
  2. it will be very hard to maintain servers with high volume of transactions

I have experienced the difficulties of accessing TOM servers when there were major events hosted on their servers. From what I observed, the maximum number of concurrent users in each server is about 2500 - 3000. I can not even connect to any of their four servers some times because they are all full load. I don't have similar experience with KGS or IGS, but from what KGS shows on their server's statistics page, I can tell the maximum number of concurrent users never exceeds 3000, besides the data traffic is huge (total data for the day of May-06-2009 is about 128GB). See the screen shot at the bottom for reference. I don't think it is easy to run such a system in the early stage before I can get financial support from outside source.

My colleague James introduced me to book P2P - Networking and Applications, 2009 by Elsevier Inc, ISBN: 978-0-12-374214-8. I have to say it is an excellent book. It not only answered me so many questions (theoretical and practical), but also directed me to a much brighter future. I feel it is even more fun to work on this project.

Sure my application is quite different from most popular P2P applications, which are mainly for file sharing or multimedia streaming. But from content delivery point of view, it does the very same thing that is delivering contents to as many receivers as possible by means of high efficiency and low cost. So it is interesting to find out:

  1. Is P2P applicable to my system?
  2. If it is, what complexity will be added to my system?
  3. What will be the impacts of using P2P model in my system from business perspective?
  4. Should I build it from scratch or based on third party platform if there is such a platform?

All above questions have to be clearly answered before I move on to next phase of project, which is Architecture Design.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Meet GRASP. It Is Still Not Too Late

I kept reading on Craig's Apply UML and Patterns and came to Chapter 17 - GRASP: Designing Objects with Responsibilities. This is a very important chapter. I'm lucky that I was caught by it in the right time, just before I was otherwise going too far. I thought I should start working on System Architecture design. I now know I have to carefully assign responsibilities to objects in the first place before I move on. It's worth to pause the development progress for a little while, hopefully for a better result.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

It's Fun Part

OK. It comes to fun part now. I've finished Sequence Diagram and Design Class Diagram using UMLet. I have to use UMLet instead of Modeler because there is not a Sequence Diagram tool in my current version of Modeler, and I don't want to spent too much time on seeking and configuring newer version. UMLet works just fine as a UML drawing tool. So be it.

To be honest, I had to change my design many times while I was drawing SD and DCD because what I'm developing is not just a IGS client. There are many things that could be done in my project. I have to well plan for them. This project is actually a totally new system, not only from functional perspective but from technology point of view as well.

It's time to consider the system architecture now.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Finish First Domain Model

After coming back from vacation, I finished the first domain model using class diagrams today. I basically followed the guidelines that combine both book of Applying UML and Patterns and UML 2.0 in a Nutshell.

By the way, I went to Seattle and Portland with family for fourdays. It was a wonderful trip.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Complete Reading "Writting Effective Use Cases"

Done. I finally complete reading the book Writing Effective Use Cases (draft). This is a excellent book indeed. I started writing and modifying my use cases following the guideline described by Alistair Cockburn, the author of this book. I feel like a student following the teacher's instructions to achieve the learning goal step by step. How wonderful the learning experiences are!

Now, it is time to move into design.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Is Palm Going To Win Programmers Back with WebOS

Palm announced an early access program for developers to test-drive and provide feedback on the their Mojo SDK prior to its public release last week. According to what Mitch Allen described in his new book Palm webOS (O'Reilly, 2009), it seems like WebOS is a very interesting mobile platform. It provides multi-task (background application) capability that iPhone lacks, flexible notification system (Popup and Banner vs. iPhone's Popup only), and rich services (native on-device services and cloud services). I think supporting cloud services makes a lot sense. Because it not only widens the application rang that a mobile device can be used for, but also makes the mobile development far more easier. However, how all of these promises are going to work in reality? Is Palm able to deliver what they have promised? Is Palm going to win programmers back? Let's see.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Prioritize Project

After a week of writing use cases, I had much more clear picture of my project. I decided to prioritize project as following:
  1. Review Game
  2. Teach Game
  3. Play & Observe Game
  4. Manage Dispute and Arbitration, Manage Rating, Ranking and Reputation
  5. Manage Message, Manage Account
I plan two (maybe more) weeks on designing first feature and then move on to the others. In the mean while, I probably need to investigate how peer-to-peer technology is going to benefit my project.

Friday, 27 March 2009

A New Home for Go and Myself

While I was working on the new version of Mobile Go, I ran into a situation that I feel I should do much more than just writing a Go client. I eventually ended up with a goal, which is to build a totally different Go Sever (or more accurate Go System). That's why I have a new blog here. It will witness not only the new project, but the daily thoughts and experiences that I have regarding Go and software development as well.

I have to learn many things that I had never learned before as a programmer. I started learning Unified Process (UP), Object Oriented Design (OOD). I borrowed books from library and read them day and night. Here are what I have read or am reading so far:

  • Applying UML and Patterns - An Introduction to Object-Oriented Analysis and Design and Iterative Development (3rd)(2004), By Craig Larman, Addison Wesley, ISBN: 0-13-148906-2
  • Writing Effective Use Cases (Book Draft) ,By Alistair Cockburn, in preparation for Addison-Wesley Longman, Q3 2000
  • The Unified Modeling Language Reference Manual, Second Edition, By Jame Rumaugh, Ivar Jacobson and Grady Booch, Addison-Wesley, 2005, ISBN: 0-321-24562-8

They are excellent books. I wish I had three heads and six eyes to read them all soon.

In the mean while, I started working on the new project, which I don't have a firmed name for yet. Here are the artifacts I made so far.

  • Vision
  • User Story
  • Glossary
  • FURPS+
  • Use Cases

I'm refining couple major use cases and investigating some fundamental technologies right now.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Work On Development Tools - Part Two: UMLet or Modeler

Before reading Mike's comment on my previous post, I was playing around with UMLet, an open source Java application that also has Eclipse plug-in. I thought UMLet was an execllent tiny tool that can help me. It's simple, very easy to use. I can even export diagrams as PDF, GIF or PNG format. However, it is just TOO SIMPLE too fit my need. For example, it does not provides all the notations out of box, though you can add those notions by creating by yourself. This just seems extra work for me.

Mike Milinkovich pointed me to the Eclipse Modeler, which is part of an open source project called Amalgamation. This package is not small. It is about 78M. However, according to the project's web site, it is "A lightweight set of modeling technologies delivered as an Eclipse product that focuses on the needs of a modeling Practitioner; that is, it provides UML and BPMN diagramming capabilities."

The download and installation were both straightforward. Within a few minutes, I was able to create my own diagrams. The package comes with plenty of examples covering classes, components, activities, state machines, composite structures, deployments and use cases. Thank God for helping me to make decision of sticking with Eclipse. It couldn't be easier than using it's Eclipse plug-in. Thank you Mike. You save my time.

Let's go back to work.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Work On Development Tools - Part One: Eclipse or NetBeans

Both Eclipse and NetBeans are open source development environment. Because I have been working on Palm OS Developer Suite, which is based on Eclipse, it is by nature to stick with Eclipse to develop Mobile Go for J2ME. However, there are a lot of stuffs need to be done to get a complete environment for design, development, test and deployment.

First of all, I need a UML tool to model my software. I used Visual Paradigm for UML (Community Edition/evaluation copy) to design Mobile Go for Palm. I want a integrated tool to do my work this time. So I searched Eclipse's plug-ins. OMG, there are so many plug-ins. Which one should I choose? What I need is a tool that allows me doing diagrams. I don't really need auto code generation, reverse engine or CVS. I want it be easy to use, don't need to take days to install, configure and learn.

So, where is my baby?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Redesign Mobile Go Using New Design Pattern

While I was learning Java programming these days, I also reconsidered the design of Mobile Go. Mobile Go for PalmOS is an self-motivated project without well plan and design in advance. It luckily came out as a good work. It works because I fully understand what I'm doing, and moreover, what I want as a Go player.

Three years after Mobile Go was born, I now have a bigger picture for it. It will be running on much more diversified devices. It will be offering more features. Ultimately It will probably be offering services other than just playing and observing games, such as pushed news, IM, problem solving champion, etc.

Can Mobile Go achieve these goals? I don't know. But I know it won't be there if I'm not going to do something for it now. That's why I have to redesign Mobile Go. I have to do it from scratch. In order to make Mobile Go platform independent and functionality expandable, a new design pattern is needed. Yes, that is MVC (Model-View-Controller) design pattern.

Monday, 16 February 2009

J2ME - Mobile Go's Next Platform

I have been looking for the next platform for Mobile Go since it was released for Palm OS in 2006. Windows Mobile and Symbian used to be my considerations. Due to my not-so-good experience of using Dell X30, I quickly dropped Windows Mobile and picked Symbian. After weeks of study of Nokia's S60, which is the most shipped Symbian-based platform, I unfortunately realized that Symbian was not for me. Not only because it is so difficult to start with, but also there is no touch screen support until recently.

Later, there came iPhone. I initially thought it might be a perfect platform for Mobile Go. Large screen, hight resolution, touch screen, multi task and 3G all make senses. However, I was wrong again. There is touch screen but no stylus support, fingers only. Don't forget we have to squeeze a 19 x 19 board in to the 3.5 inch wide screen. How can you place a stone on such a "LARGE" screen with your finger? Though I have figured out how to solve this issue, I was still not convinced to write a program for iPhone. Because the worse thing is that iPhone DOES NOT allow a third party application running on the background. It means if there is an incoming call while you are playing a game using Mobile Go for iPhone, the connection with Go server will be dropped and Mobile Go has to be terminated. Definitely, you are going to loose the game .

Another year passed. I was still looking for the right platform for Mobile Go until my wife got her BlackBerry Bold and I got my Sony Ericsson W910i recently. I didn't know Java platform can be powerful enough to drive BlackBerry to success. I learned most feature phones and a large number of smart phones support J2ME. BlackBery, Nokia's S40 & S60, Sony Ericsson's Java Platform all support J2Me. I believe many phones from other makers like Samsung, LG, Motolora and Lenovo, you name it, do support J2ME somewhat.

Why not give Java a try? I said to myself. So I began to setup a development environment last week. I downloaded and installed Eclipse, EclipseMe, BlackBerry's JDE for Eclipse plug-in, SonyEricsson's J2ME SDK, Nokia's S40 and S60 Java SDK. About a week later, I'm now able to build and run my first Java MIDlet "Hello World" on Sony Ericsson's both emulator and real device, and Nokia's S40/S60 emulators as well. Good start. I'll keep working on BlackBerry and build up my J2ME programming skills. There are a lot of things to learn, but it will be fun and I will make it.