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Programming cells may soon become as easy as programming a computer. Just as computer software designers create programming for computers, scientists have created a programming language that allows them to design DNA-encoded circuits that can give new function to living cells.

Using this language, anyone can write a program for the function they want, such as detecting and responding to certain environmental conditions. They can then generate a DNA sequence that will achieve it.

“It is literally a programming language for bacteria,” says Christopher Voigt, an MIT professor of biological engineering. “You use a text-based language, just like you’re programming a computer. Then you take that text and you compile it and it turns it into a DNA sequence that you put into the cell, and the circuit runs inside the cell.”

In the new software — called Cello — a user first specifies the kind of cell they are using and what they want it to do: for example, sense metabolic conditions in the gut and produce a drug in response. They type in commands to explain how these inputs and outputs should be logically connected, using a computing language called Verilog that electrical engineers have long relied on to design silicon circuits. Finally, Cello translates this information to design a DNA sequence that, when put into a cell, will execute the demands.

dna

The good thing about it is that it’s very simple, without many of the intricacies often encountered in programming.

“You could be completely naive as to how any of it works. That’s what’s really different about this,” Voigt says. “You could be a student in high school and go onto the Web-based server and type out the program you want, and it spits back the DNA sequence.”

For now, all these features have been customized for the E. coli bacteria, one of the most common in studies, but researchers are working on expanding the language to other strands of bacteria.

Using this language, they’ve already programmed 60 circuits with different functions, and 45 of them worked correctly the first time they were tested – which is a remarkable achievement. The circuits were also strikingly fast, and the whole process promises to revolutionize DNA engineering. Before, it could take months or years to design such a circuit. Now, it can be done in less than a day.

Dr. Voigt’s team plans to work on several different applications using this approach — bacteria that can be swallowed to aid in digestion of lactose; bacteria that can live on plant roots and produce insecticide if they sense the plant is under attack; and yeast that can be engineered to shut off when they are producing too many toxic byproducts in a fermentation reactor.

What do you think about this rapidly developing revolutionary computer industry? Can it replace drugs and medicine in future? Can it help to cure cancer and AIDS? Will it make a living cell immortal?

Please feel free to share with us your opinion and thoughts here below.

 

Katerina Kviatkovskaya

Katerina Kviatkovskaya
Kate.Kviatkovskaya@altabel.com
Skype ID: kate.kviatkovskaya
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Java brings a lot of popular and user-friendly frameworks, content management systems and servers that help to simplify the application development process, website management process and much more irrespective of the size and complexity of the project. When it comes to CMS, Java possesses a host of CMSs that have been highly recognized in the market, but one CMS that has gained great popularity and attention from the developers and companies across the world is Magnolia.

Magnolia is an open source content management system which delivers exceptional simplicity on an enterprise level, combining user-friendly usage with a standards-based and flexible Java architecture. Companies such as Airbus Group, Al Arabiya, Avis and Virgin America use it as the central hub for their web, mobile and IoT initiatives. Founded in 1997, Magnolia is a privately-held company headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. The company has offices around the globe, and customers in over 100 countries.

Making a good CMS to cater the needs of the clients is never an easy task, and the developers Magnolia knows this thing better. Hence, Magnolia brings some of the much needed features and functionalities for the enterprises.

• Magnolia comes with a smart cache, a built-in clustering capabiliy and distributed deployment architecture that easily decouples authoring from publishing and the possibility to develop load-balanced public servers to bring more throughput and availability.
• It also offer code highlighting for the designers & developers, easy integration of 3rd party frameworks, extendable workflow, J2EE compliance, RSS generation & aggregation and more for the customization.
• When it comes to designing, it brings standard-based templating in JSP and servlets, unlimited page and component design, Freemarker as a template engine, custom tag library to speed up templating and pluggable templating engine for the designers.
• It brings Open APIs, advanced caching strategies, unlimited scalability, clustering & load balancing, transactional activation and tons of other performance related features & functionalities for the enterprises.
• From the security point of view, Magnolia brings flexible user permissions using role-based user management and distributed architecture, which is a need of today’s enterprises.
• It also enables team work through concurrent editing, deletion, address book, workgroup collaboration and some other features.
Apart from all these, Magnolia also enables search engine optimization, content tagging, configurable workflow, content versioning, social media integration, multilingual support, multi-site management, mobile publishing and tons of other enterprise-scale functionalities.

magnolia

However, like any other technology or platform, Magnolia also has some advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at each of them:

The Pros
• It’s an open source.
• User friendly, easy to use for Administrators/Content Editors/Authors
• Good set of standard components in the standard templating kit (STK)
• Very flexible, almost anything can be customized
• Vast set of open modules for many additional features
• Leverage from page-based site or navigation.
• It utilizes installer, but the WAR files can be used to redeploy it to some other place.

The Cons
• Steep learning curve
• Inconsistent or lack of documentation
• Configuration via JCR-Tree can be error-prone and not very transparent
• Versions -4.5, 4.5+ and 5 all have shifts in paradigms
• Versioning and collaboration

All in all, Magnolia is a very promising CMS that integrates well into an enterprise java stack. It is predominantly suited for medium to large businesses where processes need deep integration and customizations. With regards to small businesses, Magnolia might be somewhat of an overkill.

How about you? Did you have a chance to work with Magnolia CMS? What is your attitude to it?

Please feel free to share with us your thoughts and experience here below.

 

Katerina Kviatkovskaya

Katerina Kviatkovskaya
Kate.Kviatkovskaya@altabel.com
Skype ID: kate.kviatkovskaya
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

The Go Programming Language (Go) is an open-source programming language sponsored by Google and created by Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson that makes it easy to build simple, reliable, and efficient software.

Go has gained popularity since it was first announced in 2009, and it’s now being used by many companies worldwide and for a variety of applications; Dropbox, Google, SoundCloud,  CloudFlare,  Docker and Cloud Foundry are some of the Go programming users.

go

Like any technology, though, it has its adherents and critics. Here are some key benefits and perceived drawbacks of the language as told by experts familiar with it.

Pros:

  • It is fast. And not only fast in the sense that programs written in it run fast when compared to other common languages; but also fast in the sense that its compiler can compile projects in the blink of an eye. You can even edit and run Go programs directly on the Web.
  • It is a garbage-collected language. This puts less pressure on the developer to do memory management, as the language itself takes care of most of the grunt work needed.
  • It has built-in concurrency, which allows parallelism in an easier way than is possible in other languages. Go has the concept of goroutines to start concurrent work and the concept of channels to permit both communication and synchronization.
  • Go has documentation as a standard feature. That makes it easier for developers to document their code and generate human-readable data out of source code comments.
  • Go has a rich standard library which covers a lot of areas. In fact, Go is probably the only language that can claim to have a fully working Web server as part of its standard library.
  • Go’s built-in build system is both elegant and simple. No need to mess with build configurations or makefiles.

Cons:

  • Go is still a very young language and has a very young ecosystem. This means there aren’t many libraries for it yet, leaving developers to write libraries themselves. There is also a shortage of books and online courses on the language.
  • Go is simple to the point of being superficial. Go’s simplicity is mostly superficial, and in its effort to find simplicity, it threw away decades of valuable programming language progress.
  • Although Go is a high-level language, it still has low-level features such as pointer-arithmetic which does not rule out the chance of doing systems and OS programming.
  • Go’s tooling is really weird, on the surface it has some really nice tools, but a lot of them, when you start using them, quickly show their limitations.
  • It is still not so easy to learn Go and it’s difficult to handle errors in it.

What is your attitude to Go? Is it worth learning? What do you think are Go’s advantages and disadvantages? Can you tell us about a real use you have given to this programming language? Please, feel free to share your thoughts here below.
 

Katerina Kviatkovskaya

Katerina Kviatkovskaya
Kate.Kviatkovskaya@altabel.com
Skype ID: kate.kviatkovskaya
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

The competition in the server side programming department is getting tougher with each month, especially with the recent popularity of NodeJS. However let`s look how everything began.

PHP appeared about 20 years ago, in 1995 and ever since then it has been a number one language for back-end developers and has gathered a big community behind it. For a long time there wasn’t any good reason why not to use PHP: it`s rather easy to use PHP, it`s supported by the majority of hosting companies and it has become the most commonly used language in terms of number of websites powered by it.

NodeJS was created in 2009 and it was very unique to all the other back end languages. It`s an efficient and scalable software platform that can execute JavaScript code on a server. NodeJS uses event-loops rather than traditional threading, which makes it faster and less memory-intensive than traditional platforms. Thus the ability to use Javascript on both the client and the server and the ability of NodeJS to run asynchronously have undoubtedly lead to the rise of NodeJS and its popularity within developers and customers.

Of course, everyone has his own truth: one coder will praise the speed of NodeJS while the other will be devoted to the stability and long history of PHP. But let`s have a look at strong sides of both for you to decide whether to concern yourself with the so popular nowadays NodeJS or not.

PHP strong sides:

– Huge community and tons of materials for all programmers, from a beginner to an advanced coder.
– Deep code base. The most popular platforms for building websites (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla) are written in PHP. Not only are the platforms open source, but so are most of their plug-ins.
– Easy to find a hosting company. PHP has been the industry standard since the stone age and any hosting company still surviving is bound to be compatible with it. For Node.JS you still need to make a little research.
– Simplicity. PHP can be run inside of the same file as html.
– Speed of coding. For most developers, writing PHP for Web apps feels faster: no compilers, no deployment, no JAR files or preprocessors — just your favorite editor and some PHP files in a directory.
– Mixing code with content. You just open up PHP tags and start writing code. No need for templates, no need for extra files or elaborate architectures.
– No client app is needed. All of the talk about using the same language in the browser and on the server is nice, but what if you don’t need to use any language on the browser? PHP is a way out.

NodeJS strong sides:

– Speed. NodeJS is blazing fast compared to PHP. This is where Node really kicks assJ.
– Separation of Concerns. NodeJS separates fundamental components up giving a clear separation of concern across controllers / routes, models and views.
– New and fresh. It’s newer in comparison to PHP and has been developed by programmers who have full knowledge and understanding of modern web applications, from the server to the client, and that means more modern features.
– Modern syntax. Javascript isn’t perfect and it may drive developers crazy, but overall it’s a modern language that supports modern syntax such as closures, and you can easily extend Javascript and make any object configured to exactly how you need it.
– JSON. NodeJS is a powerhouse for JSON. Accessing SQL is possible and there’s plenty of plugins that make it possible, but JSON is the lingua franca for interacting with many of the latest NoSQL databases.
– Gridlock. NodeJS uses a callback structure to pass logic from one asynchronous call to the next meaning we never have to worry about spawning new threads or even considering the deadlock process. Almost no function in Node directly performs I/O, so the process never block which is a major implication for scalable systems.

That is a difficult decision when it comes up to decide which language or tool to choose. But NodeJS worth considering and it`s proved by the fact that Node is getting more and more popularity every day. And what is your opinion on NodeJS, is it the future of web?

Anna Kozik

Anna Kozik
Anna.Kozik@altabel.com 
Skype ID: kozik_anna
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Today I would like to draw your attention towards Business viewpoint in comparison of SharePoint and Drupal.

So let the story begin.

 Initially SharePoint was created as a document management system and has over time, through continuous expansion and new features, taken on some similarity to a content management system. So for today SharePoint is being positioned as not only an intranet platform, but also a web framework that can power big sites and be on the same playing field as other larger CMS platforms. Drupal in its turn has been developed to provide the foundation to build something, whether it’s a corporate website, web-shop, customer portal, CRM, intranet or extranet, or all at once. So theoretically, we can admit that since then, Drupal and SharePoint has seen the light, both platforms have been more in each other’s way and the debate of Drupal vs. SharePoint  has been part of their history. Still what is a wiser choice?

Time for setup

In this point Drupal knock SharePoint out. Firstly Drupal is based on PHP that makes it very easy to run on any environment. With SharePoint, it needs to run Windows locally to be able to set up even the development environment. If you do not have Windows, you will need run it on VMware or other virtualization software. In this case you will have to beef up your local machine to manage the memory requirements.

Today SharePoint Online definitely obviates the set up hassle for companies not looking for self-hosted solutions. Even so, the configuration steps are not as easy and shiny as they might look on the surface.

Drupal allows to quickly set up an intranet site or something on a public domain in a few hours. From a business point of view, you can get rolling within a few hours!

Integration with other services

In this case SharePoint definitely has serious advantage of how well it integrates with the other Microsoft services. So, if as a company you are invested in Microsoft and its other services, SharePoint is a natural choice. Firstly, you would already have Windows developers and system administrators and secondly, the tight coupling SharePoint offers with other MS services is golden.

Though Drupal can be configured to interact with other MS services, it is much easier in a non-Windows scenario.

Deployment

While SharePoint solution need to have not only developers but an in-house SharePoint system administrator to be able to carry out deployments, Drupal does not required any extra developer or CPU resources.

Activities beyond intranet

One of the claims of SharePoint is how it helps companies launch multiple websites apart from just setting up an intranet platform. Still to pull this off it requires a humongous number of human resource and the technical ability . The same can be achieved with Drupal but easier.

Maintenance against paid upgrades

SharePoint today is in a much better shape than what it was a few years ago. But  the progres has been very slow and every upgrade means digging deeper into your pockets.

With the community based model, Drupal has seen a far better progress in a much shorter time. The progress has not just been in the core platform but also the kind of plugins and extensions for rapid site assembly available to make Drupal a fuller platform.

Look

In the market Drupal being an open source option has a lot of low cost and free available themes, that can be integrated without much effort. SharePoint  in its turn charges for the themes and plus designers have to know XSL to be able to tweak the themes.

Cost

What do you think who will have more advantages if we compare an open source option with a Microsoft product? JStill it’s important to note that, SharePoint as an online hosted solution is much more affordable than its predecessor downloadable versions. The licensing fee and the developer licenses were prohibitively high which now can be circumvented by going for the online versions.

From business point of view open sourсe solution seems more profitably than corporate one and Drupal wins. Still if we compare them from technical point of view…who knows, may be the Microsoft’s family product will gain revenge. It would be interesting to know your thoughts about it.

Elvira Golyak

Elvira Golyak
Elvira.Golyak@altabel.com
Skype ID: elviragolyak
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

The Web as we know it have been born and matured on computers, but as it turns out now, computers no longer have dominance in it. According to a recent report by analyst Mary Meeker, mobile devices running iOS and Android now account for 45 percent of browsing, compared to just 35 percent for Windows machines. Moreover, Android and iOS have essentially achieved their share in just five years and their share is getting tremendously larger.

According to some forecasts their worldwide number of mobile devices users should overtake the worldwide number of PC users next year. If forecasts come true, this shift will not only continue, but accelerate. Based on data from Morgan Stanley, Meeker estimates roughly 2.9 billion people around the world will be using smartphones and tablets by 2015.

What does it mean now that more people are accessing the Web through tablets and smartphones rather than laptops and desktops? And is it really a big deal? Anyway, Internet is intended to be accessed from anywhere and thus from any device. Well, it is quite a change at least in terms most people consider the Web and how it gradually adapts to be used on mobile devices.

Apps-like sites
As mobile devices take over, the use of today’s desktop browsers like Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari will decline. Mobile browsers are already very capable and will increasingly adopt HTML5 and leading-edge Web technologies. As mobile devices naturally have less screen area, the sites need to function more like mobile apps and less like collections of links. So the sites are likely to look like apps.

Apps may rule
Native apps for smartphones and tablets almost always surpass websites designed for mobile devices because they can tap into devices’ native capabilities for a more responsive and seamless experience. This is most likely to change in the nearest future – most experts agree HTML5 is eventually the way of the future. This is already the status quo in social gaming: for example Angry Birds and Words with Friends. Some services won’t be available at all to traditional PCs — they won’t be worth developers’ time.

Less information at once
Web sites and publishers will no longer be able to display everything new for users and hoping something will catch the user’s eye. Smaller screens and lower information density means sites will need to adjust to user preferences and profiles to customize the information they present. Increasingly, the Internet will become unusable unless sites believe they know who you are. Some services will handle these tasks themselves, but the most likely contenders for supplying digital identity credentials are Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Twitter, and mobile carriers.

Sharing by default
In a mobile-focused Internet, anonymity becomes rare. Virtually every mobile device can be definitively associated with a single person (or small group of people). Defaults to share information and experiences with social circles and followers will be increasingly common, along with increasing reliance on disclosure of personal information (like location, status, and activities, and social connections) to drive key functionality. As the Internet re-orients around mobile, opting out of sharing will increasingly mean opting out of the Internet.

Emphasis on destination
Internet-based sites and services will increasingly function as a combination of content and functionality reluctant to link out to other sites or drive traffic (and potential advertising revenue) elsewhere. These have long been factors in many sites’ designs but mobile devices amplify these considerations by making traditional Web navigation awkward and difficult. Still URLs are not going to die – people will still send links to their friends and Web search will remain most users primary means of finding information online.

Going light weight
As people rely on mobile, cloud, and broadband services, the necessity to do things like commute, store large volumes of records or media, or patronize physical businesses will decline. Businesses won’t need to save years of invoices, statements, and paperwork in file boxes and storage facilities – cloud storage comes as their rescue. Banks will become purely virtual institutions consumers deal with online via their phones. Distance learning and collaborative tools will let students take their coursework with them anywhere — and eliminate the need to worry about reselling enormous textbooks.

Going mobile is an obvious trend today. Experts envisage that nearly every service, business, and person who wants to use the Internet will be thinking mobile first and PC second, if they think about PCs at all. Do you agree? And what other related changes can you imagine?

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts:)

Aliona Kavalevich

Aliona Kavalevich
Aliona.Kavalevich@altabel.com
Skype ID: aliona_kavalevich
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


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