Book Review: jQuery Hotshot

Did you ever go to a web site and think, wow, how did they do that? Or, wouldn’t that be cool to write? I know I do.

Well, this book is filled with 10 small projects you can use in real life. So unlike an API book where it focuses on the small granular API calls this book focuses on completed solutions.

It starts off in the preface with a high level summary of what jQuery is and the basic concepts of the API so you really don’t even have to know jQuery to read this book. You do however need to know HTML and JavaScript basics but I will add, all of the source code is available and the massive 296 page book does a great job going step by step. The beauty of the book is it covers a lot of areas for where jQuery can be used – from developing games to building your own jQuery. Many of the techniques used in the book are very creative and well thought through.  Each project has plenty of screen shots and narrative to help you digest the content. Did I mention all of the source code is downloadable? Yep, so you can casually read the book and then go back and play with the finished source code if you wanted.

From beginner to advanced this book is a valuable resource to see how different things can be done with jQuery. It mixes some really good JavaScript API’s along with jQuery API’s to create real life projects.

Well done Dan Wellman.


Inline editing with the enhanced site preview in WebSphere Commerce

In this video I show how you can edit web activities directly from site preview in WebSphere Commerce. I created a new customer segment that only has shoppers who have purchased something in the past 30 days. When I preview the site as that segment I see the new advertisement.

Smarter Commerce: Having trouble putting the pieces together?

So you are at the Smarter Commerce Global Summit and you are seeing all kinds products and services from IBM and Business Partners. If you are asking yourself questions like this:

  • What value do I get choosing IBM for a specific piece of my Smarter Commerce puzzle?
  • What is the value of choosing IBM for multiple products?
  • What value is there in having these solutions integrated versus a competitor?
  • What business partner would you recommend for X, if any?
  • Why should I choose IBM for our eCommerce vision?

If you didn’t get these answered during the sessions, meeting with our executives, from a business partner or even from your IBM sales team then you should know this:

My team is a team of Smarter Commerce architects responsible for all products in the Industry Solutions portfolio specific to eCommerce for all of North America. We specialize in Smarter Commerce Strategy and architecture. We can help you find your gaps and help fill those gaps with an IBM product and service or through a Business Partners products and services. If we don’t know the answer we can quickly find the answer. Hit me up if you have any questions here at the Summit. I am @bobbalfe on Twitter, direct message me or simply Tweet me for a meeting.

Subscriptions now enabled!

So I had the pleasure of sitting next to and meeting Drew Neisser (@DrewNeisser), CEO of Renegade LLC on the plane to the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit today. We had a lot of great exchanges and he gave me a tip I should I have known already and that was having an email subscription form on my blog. I guess I thought that was “the old” way but Drew convinced me many people use his so I figured I would give it a try.

So in conference fashion  you should see some pictures and posts about what I am seeing here at the conference, stay tuned. And make sure you check out Drew’s Blog.

The importance of 24×7 automation in your quality assurance process

dnaI was in a discussion the other day about automation, which in itself is an extremely broad term, but we were talking around quality assurance and the importance of having some kind of automated process when the “product” was ready. Whether this be spreadsheets, reports, commercial products, applications, system builds, etc. At some level you should have automation to verify that at least at a high level the product is consumable.

Test driven development and agile development have played a huge role in the quality of software over the past 10 years and it shocks me to know companies are simply not doing this today.

My side of the discussion was around the work I did when I joined Iris Associates – which changed to Lotus, then ultimately to IBM Collaboration Solutions. While this was around software quality, the story I was in discussion about was data integrity in spreadsheets. We had several layers of automation following a build. Once the build completed (on five different platforms) a series of automated tests were run for build verification. Once the automated tests ran there were some manual tests run if the automated tests had passed. We then had what we called “automated system tests”, also known as DNA (Domino Notes Automation). These tests were much more functional in nature and not at a single API level. So you can imagine these tests using many (if not hundreds or thousands of API’s) to complete what would normally be done by a human. I remember talking to a QA person about automating Event Admin (a Domino Server feature) and he said the hundred or so tests run by DNA would take me three months to do manually – and DNA did it in about 20 minutes – every day, on every build, on every platform. At the end of the day, and I am not sure of the exact number, but there were literally 10’s of thousands of tests run every single day on almost every single supported platform for both client and server. The results of the tests were of course published to a Lotus Notes database and notification emails were generated.

Why is this important?

So on any given day you could see exactly what and who broke the build. This was a huge leap forward in terms of quality because you no longer introduce a problem into the build and find out two months later during feature testing or even worse after the code is shipped. Resolution was often fast because we could isolate the exact submitted code from the ClearCase source control system.

Having a “clean” build meant any developer could synchronize the latest binaries and start work on “the next thing”. This allowed over 1200 developers to not be dependent on a single build model. A single build model is, we do builds on Fridays. That would mean if you wanted to start working on “the latest code” you would have to wait until Friday or use last Friday’s build. Over time this could kill a development cycle, especially if Friday’s build was bad. And remember, if you do builds once a week that’s 1200 developers checking code in every day – unchecked. By the time Friday roles around you may have merge conflicts and even worse – run time conflicts.

Today, much of this is done in the form of Unit Tests – like JUnit or our custom internal unit test suite called DLLTest for C/C++. Many members on my team had patents around this process and some of the small utilities we wrote in order to accomplish this. See below for the two patents I received for my automation work.

Patent References: (patent profile)

2006/0070,034 2006 System and method for creating and restoring a test environment
2005/0289,517 2005 System and methods for client and template validation

The insanity of the Marketing Technology landscape!

A very interesting graphic from LUMA Partners (LUMAscape) was recently published. You will notice pretty much all of IBM’s recent acquisitions (in the last 3 or so years) are on this graphic. This is in my opinion a validation of the IBM’s Smarter Commerce strategy as their products become more and more integrated. Having a single company with best of breed technologies integrated and supported by one company makes this landscape a bit more consumable and less daunting.

Many of IBM’s products will be showcased at the two Smarter Commerce Summits being held in Nashville and Monaco, make sure you get there and learn why IBM is the leader in this space!


Why transcoders simply don’t work for your mobile eCommerce solution any longer


transcodingA very popular approach over the last five years was to hire a company to transcode your commerce site into a mobile experience. While this niche play was warranted five years ago it is no longer viable for a serious mobile channel presence. Today, most vendors, especially IBM and its business partners are building web applications with responsive design technology; so with a single code base you can target the different channels with the appropriate content for the specific device. This is a game changer for companies taking their mobile presence seriously. The latest WebSphere Commerce Feature Pack 6 is now compatible with Worklight. Meaning the responsive design and source code are being re-used on top of a services layer for optimal code re-use and content management.

Here are some key differentiation’s between a transcoder model and a responsive design model like Worklight.


  • Responsive design model can have targeted content to a device that is optimized by the precision marketing engine on the commerce site.
  • Alternative screen layouts based on device, targeted specifically for a device and a mobile experience.
  • Precision marketing can now take into account things like device location, the person, and the device when recommending content and products.


  • Since the code is not going through a transcoder you should see a performance gain.
  • Because the code is running on the server and not being transcoded you can implement a clear caching strategy that is optimized for each device.


  • Because the transcoder essentially “scrapes” the screen to create the mobile experience most eCommerce platforms do not have management tools to optimize the scraping methods. They are usually done at the JSP/Code layer – out of reach of a marketing person or business tool user.
  • Having the ability to target specific devices using business user tooling is key. A business user can define the rules behind the specific device and ultimately have total control of the mobile channel experience.

If you want to learn more about this make sure you sign up for the Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Nashville or Monaco. There will be many demonstrations about the latest mobile technologies in the Smarter Commerce space.