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Creating a good java development group

 
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I've been asked to take a group of developers with little or no experience in Java/UML/OOAD and create a solid team of applications developers. Around 25% of them have learned some Java on their own. The rest have experience only in mainframes and database tools using COBOL. There's no software development process or lifecycle. The company uses many IBM products, so Visual Age for Java and WebSphere will be tools they definitely use.
I'm wondering how to best introduce all this to them. Start is basic java and teach that including UML and OOAD concepts within the context of the java work? Maybe forget java at first, and introduce OOAD?
A few books might be helpful, also. "Thinking in Java" by Bruce Eckel and "Beginning Java 2" by Ivor Horton come to mind.
Anyway, I'm looking for people who have been in similar situations and recommendations on what to do or not do.
 
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Bryan:
I ran into the same situation with a project at Lehigh University. We received funding from the state of Pennsylvania to do a prototype AS400 Cobol to WinNT Java conversion for Osh-Kosh Children's Clothing. Part of the PA grant was that we had to bring 15 undergraduates on board.
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This project may be doomed from the start - everyone going in their own little direction.
The entire team should probably do OOA&D. Will take 1 or 2 weeks in a formal classroom setting.
The entire team should probably do intro-Java (if necessary). Will take 1 or 2 weeks in a formal classroom setting.
Next priority is to break the team into groups. One group does UML - One group does IBM-WebShere - One group does the user interface. You may need to send one or two folks to J2EE and EJB class (or spend the $$ and get a consultant to both teach and lead the technical side of the project). What about SQL and JDBC???
If you don't do this - you will spend your entire IT budget on training, and overload your staff with information, and have no deliverables. By splitting up the work load - your team can specialize.
We failed to do this at Lehigh - and basically myself and two others ended up doing the project ourselves (was alot easier that way). Unfortunately, you don't have this luxury in the real-world.
Also, by specializing - you can create deliverables a whole lot faster. And producing tangible deliverables is what will keep your boss happy. BTW/ The customer is never happy.
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You will need a project leader for the technical side - and one for the analsyst side (the one who meets with the customer).
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After getting the signoff on the project / or a signoff on a significant portion - then you can rotate people around to different assignments.
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Hope this helps.
John Coxey
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
 
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