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It is said that spoken languages shape thoughts by their inclusion and exclusion of concepts, and by structuring them in different ways. Similarly, programming languages shape solutions by making some tasks easier and others less aesthetic. Using F# instead of C# reshapes software projects in ways that prefer certain development styles and outcomes, changing what is possible and how it is achieved.

F# is a functional language from Microsoft's research division. While once relegated to the land of impractical academia, the principles espoused by functional programming are beginning to garner mainstream appeal.

As its name implies, functions are first-class citizens in functional programming. Blocks of code can be stored in variables, passed to other functions, and infinitely composed into higher-order functions, encouraging cleaner abstractions and easier testing. While it has long been possible to store and pass code, F#'s clean syntax for higher-order functions encourages them as a solution to any problem seeking an abstraction.

F# also encourages immutability. Instead of maintaining state in variables, functional programming with F# models programs as a series of functions converting inputs to outputs. While this introduces complications for those used to imperative styles, the benefits of immutability mesh well with many current developments best practices.

For instance, if functions are pure, handling only immutable data and exhibiting no side effects, then testing is vastly simplified. It is very easy to test that a specific block of code always returns the same value given the same inputs, and by modeling code as a series of immutable functions, it becomes possible to gain a deep and highly precise set of guarantees that software will behave exactly as written.

Further, if execution flow is exclusively a matter of routing function inputs to outputs, then concurrency is vastly simplified. By shifting away from mutable state to immutable functions, the need for locks and semaphores is vastly reduced if not entirely eliminated, and multi-processor development is almost effortless in many cases.

Type inference is another powerful feature of many functional languages. It is often unnecessary to specify argument and return types, since any modern compiler can infer them automatically. F# brings this feature to most areas of the language, making F# feel less like a statically-typed language and more like Ruby or Python. F# also eliminates noise like braces, explicit returns, and other bits of ceremony that make languages feel cumbersome.

Functional programming with F# makes it possible to write concise, easily testable code that is simpler to parallelize and reason about. However, strict functional styles often require imperative developers to learn new ways of thinking that are not as intuitive. Fortunately, F# makes it possible to incrementally change habits over time. Thanks to its hybrid object-oriented and functional nature, and its clean interoperability with the .net platform, F# developers can gradually shift to a more functional mindset while still using the algorithms and libraries with which they are most familiar.

 

Related F# Resources:

F# Programming Essentials Training

Anonymous reprint from Quora (career advice)

Occasionally we come across a unique profound perspective that makes one stop and really listen. The following advice is one such as this.

  1. Small actions compound: Reputation, career trajectory, and how others perceive you in the workplace can come down to a handful of things/moments that seem inconsequential/small at the time but compound. Random Thought: Redwood trees come from small seeds and time. With every action you're planting small seeds and these seeds can grow into something bigger (sometimes unimaginably bigger) over time. Don't let small basic mistakes sabotage your reputation because it only takes a few small snafus for people to lose confidence/trust in your ability to do more important tasks. Trust is a fragile thing and the sooner people can trust you the faster they'll give you more responsibility. Some Examples: Being on time (always) or early (better); spending an extra 10-15 minutes reviewing your work and catching basic mistakes before your boss does; structuring your work so it's easy for others to understand and leverage (good structure/footnotes/formatting); taking on unpleasant schleps/tasks (volunteer for them; don't complain; do it even when there's no apparent benefit to you)  

  2. Rising tide lifts all boats: Fact: You don't become CEO of a multi-billion dollar public company in your 30s based purely on ability/talent. Your career is a boat and it is at the mercy of tides. No matter how talented you are it's a lot harder to break out in a sluggish situation/hierarchy/economy than a go-go environment. Even if you're a superstar at Sluggish Co., your upside trajectory (more often than not) is fractional to what an average/below average employee achieves at Rocket Ship Co. There's a reason Eric Schmidt told Sheryl Sandberg to "Get on a Rocket Ship". I had colleagues accelerate their careers/income/title/responsibility simply because business demand was nose bleed high (go go economy) and they were at the right place at the right time to ride the wave. Contrast that to the 2008 bust where earnings/promotions/careers have been clamped down and people are thankful for having jobs let alone moving up. Yes talent still matters but I think people generally overweight individual talent and underweight economics when evaluating/explaining their career successes. Sheryl Sandberg Quote: When companies are growing quickly and they are having a lot of impact, careers take care of themselves. And when companies aren’t growing quickly or their missions don’t matter as much, that’s when stagnation and politics come in. If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.

  3. Seek opportunities where the outcome is success or failure. Nothing in between! You don't become a star doing your job. You become a star making things happen. I was once told early in my career that you learn the most in 1) rapidly growing organizations or 2) failing organizations.  I've been in both kinds of situations and wholeheartedly agree. Repeat. Get on a rocket ship. It'll either blow up or put you in orbit. Either way you'll learn a ton in a short amount of time. Put another way; seek jobs where you can get 5-10 years of work experience in 1-2 years.

  4. Career Tracks & Meritocracies don't exist: Your career is not a linear, clearly defined trajectory.  It will be messy and will move more like a step function.

  5. You will probably have champions and detractors on day 1: One interesting byproduct of the recruiting & hiring process of most organizations is it can create champions & detractors before you even start the job. Some folks might not like how you were brought into the organization (they might have even protested your hiring) and gun for you at every turn while others will give you the benefit of the doubt (even when you don't deserve one) because they stuck their neck out to hire you. We're all susceptible to these biases and few people truly evaluate/treat folks on a blank slate.

  6. You'll only be known for a few things. Make those labels count: People rely on labels as quick filters. Keep this in mind when you pick an industry/company/job role/school because it can serve as an anchor or elevator in the future. It's unfortunate but that's the way it is. You should always be aware of what your "labels" are.

  7. Nurture & protect your network and your network will nurture & protect you: Pay it forward and help people. Your network will be one of the biggest drivers of your success.

I’ve been a technical recruiter for several years, let’s just say a long time.  I’ll never forget how my first deal went bad and the lesson I learned from that experience.  I was new to recruiting but had been a very good sales person in my previous position. I was about to place my first contractor on an assignment.  I thought everything was fine.  I nurtured and guided my candidate through the interview process with constant communication throughout.  The candidate was very responsive throughout the process.  From my initial contact with him, to the phone interview all went well and now he was completing his onsite interview with the hiring manager. 

Shortly thereafter, I received the call from the hiring manager that my candidate was the chosen one for the contract position, I was thrilled.  All my hard work had paid off.  I was going to be a success at this new game!  The entire office was thrilled for me, including my co-workers and my bosses.  I made a good win-win deal.  It was good pay for my candidate and a good margin for my recruiting firm. Everyone was happy. 

I left a voicemail message for my candidate so I could deliver the good news. He had agreed to call me immediately after the interview so I could get his assessment of how well it went.  Although, I heard from the hiring manager, there was no word from him.  While waiting for his call back, I received a call from a Mercedes dealership to verify his employment for a car he was trying to lease. Technically he wasn’t working for us as he had not signed the contract yet…. nor, had he discussed this topic with me.   I told the Mercedes office that I would get back to them.  Still not having heard back from the candidate, I left him another message and mentioned the call I just received.  Eventually he called back.  He wanted more money. 

I told him that would be impossible as he and I had previously agreed on his hourly rate and it was fine with him.  I asked him what had changed since that agreement.  He said he made had made much more money in doing the same thing when he lived in California.  I reminded him this is a less costly marketplace than where he was living in California.  I told him if he signed the deal I would be able to call the car dealership back and confirm that he was employed with us.  He agreed to sign the deal. 

Java still has its place in the world of software development, but is it quickly becoming obsolete by the more dynamically enabled Python programming language? The issue is hotly contested by both sides of the debate. Java experts point out that Java is still being developed with more programmer friendly updates. Python users swear that Java can take up to ten times longer to develop. Managers that need to make the best decision for a company need concrete information so that an informed and rational decision can be made.

First, Java is a static typed language while Python is dynamically typed. Static typed languages require that each variable name must be tied to both a type and an object. Dynamically typed languages only require that a variable name only gets bound to an object. Immediately, this puts Python ahead of the game in terms of productivity since a static typed language requires several elements and can make errors in coding more likely.

Python uses a concise language while Java uses verbose language. Concise language, as the name suggests, gets straight to the point without extra words. Removing additional syntax can greatly reduce the amount of time required to program.  A simple call in Java, such as the ever notorious "Hello, World" requires three several lines of coding while Python requires a single sentence. Java requires the use of checked exceptions. If the exceptions are not caught or thrown out then the code fails to compile. In terms of language, Python certainly has surpassed Java in terms of brevity.

Additionally, while Java's string handling capabilities have improved they haven't yet matched the sophistication of Python's. Web applications rely upon fast load times and extraneous code can increase user wait time. Python optimizes code in ways that Java doesn't, and this can make Python a more efficient language. However, Java does run faster than Python and this can be a significant advantage for programmers using Java. When you factor in the need for a compiler for Java applications the speed factor cancels itself out leaving Python and Java at an impasse.

While a programmer will continue to argue for the language that makes it easiest based on the programmer's current level of knowledge, new software compiled with Python takes less time and provides a simplified coding language that reduces the chance for errors. When things go right, Java works well and there are no problems. However, when errors get introduced into the code, it can become extremely time consuming to locate and correct those errors. Python generally uses less code to begin with and makes it easier and more efficient to work with.

Ultimately, both languages have their own strengths and weaknesses. For creating simple applications, Python provides a simpler and more effective application. Larger applications can benefit from Java and the verbosity of the code actually makes it more compatible with future versions. Python code has been known to break with new releases. Ultimately, Python works best as a type of connecting language to conduct quick and dirty work that would be too intensive when using Java alone. In this sense, Java is a low-level implementation language. While both languages are continuing to develop, it's unlikely that one language will surpass the other for all programming needs in the near future.

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A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Kingdom since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about Web Services programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized Web Services experts
  • Get up to speed with vital Web Services programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
  • We care…
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