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What are the three most important things non-programmers should know about programming?
 
Written by Brian Knapp, credit and reprint CodeCareerGenius
 
 
Since you asked for the three most important things that non-programmers should know about, and I’ve spent most of my career working with more non-programmers than programmers, I have a few interesting things that would help.
 
Number One - It Is Impossible To Accurately Estimate Software Projects
 
No matter what is tried. No matter what tool, agile approach, or magic fairy dust people try to apply to creating software… accurately predicting software project timelines is basically impossible.
 
There are many good reasons for this. Usually, requirements and feature ideas change on a daily/weekly basis. Often it is impossible to know what needs to be done without actually digging into the code itself. Debugging and QA can take an extraordinary amount of time.
 
And worst of all…
 
Project Managers are always pushing for shorter timelines. They largely have no respect for reality. So, at some point they are given estimates just to make them feel better about planning.
 
No matter how much planning and estimation you do, it will be wrong. At best it will be directionally correct +/- 300% of what you estimated. So, a one year project could actually take anywhere between 0 and 5 years, maybe even 10 years.
 
If you think I’m joking, look at how many major ERP projects that go over time and over budget by many years and many hundreds of millions of dollars. Look at the F-35 fighter jet software issues.
 
Or in the small, you can find many cases where a “simple bug fix” can take days when you thought it was hours.
 
All estimates are lies made up to make everyone feel better. I’ve never met a developer or manager who could accurately estimate software projects even as well as the local weatherman(or woman) predicts the weather.
 
Number Two - Productivity Is Unevenly Distributed
 
What if I told you that in the average eight hour work day the majority of the work will get done in a 30 minute timeframe? Sound crazy?
 
Well, for most programmers there is a 30–90 minute window where you are extraordinarily productive. We call this the flow state.
 
Being in the flow state is wonderful and amazing. It often is where the “magic” of building software happens.
 
Getting into flow can be difficult. It’s akin to meditation in that you have to have a period of uninterrupted focus of say 30 minutes to “get in” the flow, but a tiny interruption can pull you right out.
 
Now consider the modern workplace environment. Programmers work in open office environments where they are invited to distract each other constantly.
 
Most people need a 1–2 hour uninterrupted block to get 30–90 minutes of flow.
 
Take the 8 hour day and break it in half with a lunch break, and then pile in a few meetings and all of a sudden you are lucky to get one decent flow state session in place.
 
That is why I say that most of the work that gets done happens in a 30 minute timeframe. The other 7–8 hours are spent being distracted, answering email, going to meetings, hanging around the water cooler, going to the bathroom, and trying to remember what you were working on before all these distractions.
 
Ironically, writers, musicians, and other creative professionals have their own version of this problem and largely work alone and away from other people when they are creating new things.
 
Someday the programming world might catch on, but I doubt it.
 
Even if this became obvious, it doesn’t sit well with most companies to think that programmers would be paid for an 8 hour day and only be cranking out code for a few hours on a good day. Some corporate middle manager would probably get the bright idea to have mandatory flow state training where a guru came in and then there would be a corporate policy from a pointy haired boss mandating that programmers are now required to spend 8 hours a day in flow state and they must fill out forms to track their time and notify their superiors of their flow state activities, otherwise there would be more meetings about the current flow state reports not being filed correctly and that programmers were spending too much time “zoning out” instead of being in flow.
 
Thus, programmers would spent 7–8 hours a day pretending to be in flow state, reporting on their progress, and getting all their work done in 30 minutes of accidental flow state somewhere in the middle of all that flow state reporting.
 
If you think I’m joking about this, I’m not. I promise you this is what would happen to any company of more than 2 employees. (Even the ones run by programmers.)
 
Number Three - It Will Cost 10x What You Think
 
Being a programmer, I get a lot of non-programmers telling me about their brilliant app ideas. Usually they want me to build something for free and are so generous as to pay me up to 5% of the profits for doing 100% of the work.
 
Their ideas are just that good.
 
Now, I gently tell them that I’m not interested in building anything for free.
 
At that point they get angry, but a few ask how much it will cost. I give them a reasonable (and very incorrect) estimate of what it would cost to create the incredibly simple version of their app idea.
 
Let’s say it’s some number like $25,000.
 
They look at me like I’m a lunatic, and so I explain how much it costs to hire a contract programmer and how long it will actually take. For example’s sake let’s say it is $100/hr for 250 hours.
 
To be clear, these are made up numbers and bad estimates (See Number One for details…)
 
In actuality, to build the actual thing they want might cost $250,000, or even $2,500,000 when it’s all said and done.
 
Building software can be incredibly complex and expensive. What most people can’t wrap their head around is the fact that a company like Google, Apple, or Microsoft has spent BILLIONS of dollars to create something that looks so simple to the end user.
 
Somehow, the assumption is that something that looks simple is cheap and fast to build.
 
Building something simple and easy for the end user is time consuming and expensive. Most people just can’t do it.
 
So, the average person with a brilliant app idea thinks it will cost a few hundred or maybe a few thousand dollars to make and it will be done in a weekend is so off the mark it’s not worth considering their ideas.
 
And programmers are too eager to play along with these bad ideas (by making bad estimates and under charging for their time) that this notion is perpetuated to the average non-programmer.
 
So, a good rule of thumb is that software will cost 10 times as much as you think and take 10 times as long to finish.
 
And that leads to a bonus point…
 
BONUS - Software Is Never Done
 
Programmers never complete a software project, they only stop working on it. Software is never done.
 
I’ve worked at many software companies and I’ve never seen a software project “completed”.
 
Sure, software gets released and used. But, it is always changing, being updated, bugs get fixed, and there are always new customer requests for features.
 
Look at your favorite software and you’ll quickly realize how true this is. Facebook, Instagram, Google Search, Google Maps, GMail, iOS, Android, Windows, and now even most video games are never done.
 
There are small armies of developers just trying to keep all the software you use every day stable and bug free. Add on the fact that there are always feature requests, small changes, and new platforms to deal with, it’s a treadmill.
 
So, the only way out of the game is to stop working on software. At that point, the software begins to decay until it is no longer secure or supported.
 
Think about old Windows 3.1 software or maybe old Nintendo Cartridge video games. The current computers and video game consoles don’t even attempt to run that software anymore.
 
You can’t put an old video game in your new Nintendo Switch and have it “just work”. That is what happens when you think software is done.
 
When programmers stop working on software the software starts to die. The code itself is probably fine, but all the other software keeps moving forward until your software is no longer compatible with the current technology.
 
So, those are the four most important things that non-programmers should know about programming. I know you asked for only three, so I hope the bonus was valuable to you as well.

 

I suspect that many of you are familiar with the term "hard coding a value" whereby the age of an individual or their location is written into the condition (or action) of a business rule (in this case) as shown below:

if customer.age > 21 and customer.city == 'denver'

then ...

Such coding practices are perfectly expectable provided that the conditional values, age and city, never change. They become entirely unacceptable if a need for different values could be anticipated. A classic example of where this practice occurred that caused considerable heartache in the IT industry was the Y2K issue where dates were updated using only the last 2 digits of a four digit number because the first 2 digits were hard-coded to 19 i.e. 1998, 1999. All was well provided that the date did not advance to a time beyond the 1900’s since no one could be certain of what would happen when the millennia arrived (2000). A considerably amount of work (albeit boring) and money, approximately $200 billion, went into revising systems by way of software rewrites and computer chip replacements in order to thwart any detrimental outcomes. It is obvious how a simple change or an assumption can have sweeping consequences.

You may wonder what Y2K has to do with Business Rule Management Systems (BRMS). Well, what if we considered rules themselves to be hard-coded. If we were to write 100s of rules in Java, .NET or whatever language that only worked for a given scenario or assumption, would that not constitute hard-coded logic? By hard-coded, we obviously mean compiled. For example, if a credit card company has a variety of bonus campaigns, each with their own unique list of rules that may change within a week’s time, what would be the most effective way of writing software to deal with these responsibilities?

Being treated like a twelve year old at work by a Tasmanian-devil-manager and not sure what to do about it? It is simply a well-known fact that no one likes to be micro managed. Not only do they not like to be micro managed, but tend to quit for this very reason. Unfortunately the percentage of people leaving their jobs for this reason is higher that you would imagine. Recently, an employee retention report conducted by TINYpulse, an employee engagement firm, surveyed 400 full-time U.S. employees concluded that, "supervisors can make or break employee retention."

As companies mature, their ability to manage can be significant to their bottom line as employee morale, high staff turnover and the cost of training new employees can easily reduce productivity and consequently client satisfaction.  In many cases, there is a thin line between effective managing and micro managing practices. Most managers avoid micro managing their employees. However, a decent percentage of them have yet to find effective ways to get the most of their co-workers.  They trap themselves by disempowering people's ability to do their work when they hover over them and create an unpleasant working environment. This behavior may come in the form of incessant emailing, everything having to be done a certain way (their way), desk hovering, and a need to control every part of an enterprise, no matter how small.

Superimpose the micro manager into the popular practice of Agile-SCRUM methodology and you can imagine the creative ways they can monitor everything in a team, situation, or place. Although, not always a bad thing, excessive control, can lead to burnout of managers and teams alike.  As predicted, agile project management has become increasingly popular in the last couple of decades in project planning, particularly in software development.  Agile methodology when put into practice, especially in IT, can mean releasing faster functional software than with the traditional development methods. When done right, it enables users to get some of the business benefits of the new software faster as well as enabling the software team to get rapid feedback on the software's scope and direction.

Despite its advantages, most organizations have not been able to go “all agile” at once. Rather, some experiment with their own interpretation of agile when transitioning.  A purist approach for instance, can lead to an unnecessarily high agile project failure, especially for those that rely on tight controls, rigid structures and cost-benefit analysis.  As an example, a premature and rather rapid replacement of traditional development without fully understating the implications of the changeover process or job roles within the project results in failure for many organizations.  

 

Over time, companies are migrating from COBOL to the latest standard of C# solutions due to reasons such as cumbersome deployment processes, scarcity of trained developers, platform dependencies, increasing maintenance fees. Whether a company wants to migrate to reporting applications, operational infrastructure, or management support systems, shifting from COBOL to C# solutions can be time-consuming and highly risky, expensive, and complicated. However, the following four techniques can help companies reduce the complexity and risk around their modernization efforts. 

All COBOL to C# Solutions are Equal 

It can be daunting for a company to sift through a set of sophisticated services and tools on the market to boost their modernization efforts. Manual modernization solutions often turn into an endless nightmare while the automated ones are saturated with solutions that generate codes that are impossible to maintain and extend once the migration is over. However, your IT department can still work with tools and services and create code that is easier to manage if it wants to capitalize on technologies such as DevOps. 

Narrow the Focus 

Most legacy systems are incompatible with newer systems. For years now, companies have passed legacy systems to one another without considering functional relationships and proper documentation features. However, a detailed analysis of databases and legacy systems can be useful in decision-making and risk mitigation in any modernization effort. It is fairly common for companies to uncover a lot of unused and dead code when they analyze their legacy inventory carefully. Those discoveries, however can help reduce the cost involved in project implementation and the scope of COBOL to C# modernization. Research has revealed that legacy inventory analysis can result in a 40% reduction of modernization risk. Besides making the modernization effort less complex, trimming unused and dead codes and cost reduction, companies can gain a lot more from analyzing these systems. 

Understand Thyself 

For most companies, the legacy system entails an entanglement of intertwined code developed by former employees who long ago left the organization. The developers could apply any standards and left behind little documentation, and this made it extremely risky for a company to migrate from a COBOL to C# solution. In 2013, CIOs teamed up with other IT stakeholders in the insurance industry in the U.S to conduct a study that found that only 18% of COBOL to C# modernization projects complete within the scheduled period. Further research revealed that poor legacy application understanding was the primary reason projects could not end as expected. 

Furthermore, using the accuracy of the legacy system for planning and poor understanding of the breadth of the influence of the company rules and policies within the legacy system are some of the risks associated with migrating from COBOL to C# solutions. The way an organization understands the source environment could also impact the ability to plan and implement a modernization project successfully. However, accurate, in-depth knowledge about the source environment can help reduce the chances of cost overrun since workers understand the internal operations in the migration project. That way, companies can understand how time and scope impact the efforts required to implement a plan successfully. 

Use of Sequential Files 

Companies often use sequential files as an intermediary when migrating from COBOL to C# solution to save data. Alternatively, sequential files can be used for report generation or communication with other programs. However, software mining doesn’t migrate these files to SQL tables; instead, it maintains them on file systems. Companies can use data generated on the COBOL system to continue to communicate with the rest of the system at no risk. Sequential files also facilitate a secure migration path to advanced standards such as MS Excel. 

Modern systems offer companies a range of portfolio analysis that allows for narrowing down their scope of legacy application migration. Organizations may also capitalize on it to shed light on migration rules hidden in the ancient legacy environment. COBOL to C# modernization solution uses an extensible and fully maintainable code base to develop functional equivalent target application. Migration from COBOL solution to C# applications involves language translation, analysis of all artifacts required for modernization, system acceptance testing, and database and data transfer. While it’s optional, companies could need improvements such as coding improvements, SOA integration, clean up, screen redesign, and cloud deployment.

Tech Life in Virginia

Virginia is known as "the birthplace of a nation,? is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and has had 3 capital cities, Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Richmond. The state motto is "Sic Semper Tyrannis"??Thus always to tyrants? More people work for the U.S. government than any other industry in this region. Virginia's largest private employer is also the world's largest ship building yard. Because the state hosts some major Net firms such as AOL, Network Solutions, and MCI WorldCom it has dubbed itself the "Internet Capital of the world".
The structure of a software system will reflect the communication structure of the team that built it R.E. Fairley
other Learning Options
Software developers near Virginia Beach have ample opportunities to meet like minded techie individuals, collaborate and expend their career choices by participating in Meet-Up Groups. The following is a list of Technology Groups in the area.
Fortune 500 and 1000 companies in Virginia that offer opportunities for Web Services developers
Company Name City Industry Secondary Industry
Brink's Inc. Richmond Business Services Security Services
Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) Mc Lean Financial Services Lending and Mortgage
General Dynamics Corporation Falls Church Manufacturing Aerospace and Defense
CarMax, Inc. Henrico Retail Automobile Dealers
NVR, Inc. Reston Real Estate and Construction Construction and Remodeling
Gannett Co., Inc. Mc Lean Media and Entertainment Newspapers, Books and Periodicals
Smithfield Foods, Inc. Smithfield Manufacturing Food and Dairy Product Manufacturing and Packaging
ManTech International Corporation Fairfax Computers and Electronics IT and Network Services and Support
DynCorp International Falls Church Manufacturing Aerospace and Defense
Genworth Financial, Inc. Richmond Financial Services Insurance and Risk Management
MeadWestvaco Corporation Richmond Manufacturing Paper and Paper Products
Dollar Tree, Inc. Chesapeake Retail Department Stores
Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. Abingdon Agriculture and Mining Mining and Quarrying
SRA International, Inc. Fairfax Business Services Business Services Other
NII Holdings, Inc. Reston Telecommunications Wireless and Mobile
Dominion Resources, Inc. Richmond Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Norfolk Southern Corporation Norfolk Transportation and Storage Freight Hauling (Rail and Truck)
CACI International Inc. Arlington Software and Internet Data Analytics, Management and Storage
Amerigroup Corporation Virginia Beach Financial Services Insurance and Risk Management
Owens and Minor, Inc. Mechanicsville Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Personal Health Care Products
Advance Auto Parts, Inc Roanoke Retail Automobile Parts Stores
SAIC Mc Lean Software and Internet Software
AES Corporation Arlington Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Capital One Financial Corporation Mc Lean Financial Services Credit Cards and Related Services
Sunrise Senior Living, Inc. Mc Lean Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Residential and Long-Term Care Facilities
Computer Sciences Corporation Falls Church Software and Internet Software
Altria Group, Inc. Richmond Manufacturing Manufacturing Other
Northrop Grumman Corporation Falls Church Manufacturing Aerospace and Defense
Alliant Techsystems Inc. Arlington Manufacturing Aerospace and Defense
Markel Corporation Glen Allen Financial Services Insurance and Risk Management

training details locations, tags and why hsg

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 Virginia 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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