I’ve finished the last important code cleanups from my dbcdb code: I removed some proxy objects that had been used for lazy loading. I was really surprised to see how much that cleaned up certain aspects of the code: my Entity objects’ constructors got a lot cleaner, useless attribute setters/getters were removed, and in general responsibilities were greatly clarified: the Entities’ only job is to convert from SQL to HTML.

Which brings me to a pause point. I’ve met some of my objectives: gotten a little more practice with Java and HTML, learned a little about SQL and CSS, and provided an alternate linking structure to use in the blog. Nothing earthshattering, but it’s been of some modest use to myself. And there aren’t any obvious gaping holes to be filled.

So it’s time to take stock and figure out what to do next. For a while, actually, I was considering taking the time I’d been spending on this and using it to learn Japanese instead. (Which would actually take rather more time, but never mind that.) With some regrets, though, I’ve decided that isn’t the best course of action right now. My best guess is that I’ll be looking for another job in about two years from now. (With a huge margin of uncertainty, of course.) And, while I’m not sure what I’ll target in my search, I would like my options to be as many as possible; to that end, spending more time broadening my skills could be of some use. Exactly how much use isn’t clear – having been on the other end of the resumes, I realize how easy it is to reject candidates whose professional experience isn’t exactly what you’re looking for – but it’s worth a shot. So I’ll want to keep this up for another year or so. (After which, I hope to have enough time to take a break and learn Japanese. But who knows what the future will bring.)

So, given that I’m not going to stop now, what next? Rewrite it in Ruby, for one. I’m starting to chafe at Java more and more: just today I ran into a few places where I could use lambda, a few places where static typing was being mildly annoying. So I’ll start by rewriting the CLI tool in Ruby, then rewrite the HTML conversion part in Ruby. After that, I’ll generate the web pages on the fly instead of statically, using mod_ruby. (I don’t plan to learn Rails for now: I don’t have any good applications for that in mind.) After which, who knows; maybe I’ll stop there, maybe I’ll convert the editing tool from a CLI application to a web application. Maybe I’ll play around with web services, scraping book information from Amazon. Hard to say.

The immediate next step isn’t entirely clear. I’ve read/skimmed the Ruby book, but it hasn’t all sunk in; clearly I need to get my hands dirty. And I need to learn how to use Ruby to interface with a database. (Maybe the book talked about that; I skimmed the library section.) It’ll probably take a few months to have anything to show there; I also have a bit of unit-test library cleanup that I’ve been putting off. So don’t be surprised if I go quiet on the programming front for a little while.

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