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FrontRunner Special Round-table talk Ever Exciting Moments Days with the Ever Evolving Web World
Photo: Partcipants(Yamamoto, Hinohara, Takatsu, Nakagawa)
Four aces leading Ricoh Web technologies

They love the Web world, which, after all, is everything to them. They are Web freaks; Ricoh Web freaks who got together to discuss what might happen. The four members are Kazunori Takatsu, a leader type who is conversant in many technical fields; Masaki Nakagawa, a devotee of research and development into distributed systems on the Web; Yohei Yamamoto, an evangelist for REST both inside and outside the company; and Hiroshi Hinohara, who develops Web applications for in-house use. All are elites on the front line of research and development as Web technology specialists.


Watch movie (02:48) [in Japanese]
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Becoming the Japanese translation supervisor for [RESTful Web services]!

Our Yohei Yamamoto supervised Japanese translation of "RESTful Web service," published by O'Reilly, Japan in December 2007. The result is so well thought of it has come to be called the REST bible in Japan. Yamamoto said that when he hit a technical wall while developing SOAP Web services around 2003, he came across REST and was deeply impressed. In those days, colleagues had little interest in REST (the truth to be revealed in hindsight), so he glorified REST and its charm on his private blog. He also talked with persons outside company, wrote a journal article at their request, and was then asked to supervise translation of the book.
The author is, indeed, part of the Web generation, as he recruited the reviewer on the blog from the draft stage. Needless to say, Yamamoto was fully immersed and cooperated in the writing itself as an eager reviewer. The author expressed his appreciation to Yamamoto in the acknowledgements. "I was deeply touched," reports Yamamoto. In supervising Japanese translation, he made new discoveries, and was able to reconfirm known contents. The work also deepened his comprehension, and Yamamoto became increasingly RESTful.


Watch movie (06:32) [in Japanese]
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REST is [Aesthetics of design.]

REST hit the spotlight as an epoch-making architecture style for the Web. The four freaks all say that its greatest appeal is simplicity. "It is when we perfectly eliminate what is not needed and bring forth what is beautiful and right" (Yamamoto). REST is also "Aesthetics of design." In Web system development, the URI tends to become longer and complicated. Performing RESTful design and simplifying the URI are said to yield very-easy-to use products. "If a product is hard for me to use, I'm embarrassed to release it as my product" (Yamamoto). That is the basic position of these four, who focus on customer oriented development.
The points adhering to simplicity are also applied to the programming language and framework. The four love Ruby for its simplicity. Comments include: "The code is short and readable almost without comments" (Yamamoto); "I enjoy more the pleasure of making things, because, compared with Java, we can make something functional in less time" (Hinohara). Even Nakagawa, the only one loyal to Perl, agrees that Ruby is simple. Ruby ranks first in approval for high development efficiency.


Watch movie (20:22) [in Japanese]
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Fascination with blog that revolutionized work style

Blogs are indispensable for these freaks to acquire information. The Software R&D Group started the "ricollab Web Tech Blog" (in Japanese) in January 2008. Before that, Hinohara took the lead in 2005 and started the in-house blog. According to Takatsu, several people other than engineers, such as overseas system engineers and domestic sales people, wrote their comments to the blog and "provided important information for strategy planning as local 'live' inputs, and also for broadening points of view; they contributed to changing work style."
It is also delightful that we can communicate with well-known persons freely via blog. You can ask questions freely on a blog, even to people you don't know, without worrying about formalities, as expressed by Nakagawa: "I felt a wall was removed" and Yamamoto, who said "The perspective in the company became better." There are cases where people get hung up on the same problem after discussions on a blog in the company, so they help each other. Or discussions developed into a study meeting such as on Plagger or Web2.0. If persons with a common interest or purpose gather across organization boundaries, arguments will develop and efforts will bear fruit. In this sense also, the blog plays an important role.


Watch movie (13:30) [in Japanese]
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Into the world of Cloud Computing

The topic here moves to technical and development theory. It is OpenID, which Nakagawa raised as a significant Web technology.
It agrees with Nakagawa's principle that "Simple is the best," as the authentication is enabled easily without a user ID or password management on the services side. Load distribution technologies are Hinohara's concerns from his standpoint of establishing servers. He says that he loses sleep when the system is unstable and gets so involved that he can't sleep as he enjoys thinking about it. On the other hand, RESTful Yamamoto has information architecture on his mind, focused on the extension of resource modeling. He believes that an information architecture is required for better resource design, rather than depending on personal intuition.
"Test-Driven Development (test first) " is another hot topic. Yamamoto indicates the first advantage is that "it is easy to re-factor and the code can be changed without worry." Hinohara, who made a presentation about his experience with practical development by the test-driven development method at the in-house forum, also says "I predict a positive spiral."
In noteworthy Web services, popularity is concentrated on "Nico Nico Douga." Raves include "I love using it and enjoy a completely different experience from using conventional Web services" (Nakagawa) and "I have paid my money to Web services" (Hinohara). In addition, Yamamoto loves Amazon Web services. His cool analysis is that it has been "proved that business works by Cloud computing." Besides, responding to the increasing shift of local data to the network, they, from a user's standpoint as well as a system provider, pay attention to open data to ensure portability. In doing so, "the authentication issue cannot be avoided" (Takatsu) and the OpenID Nakagawa raised as a significant technology at the beginning can be positioned in this stream.


Watch movie (21:24) [in Japanese]
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Can you work at your own initiative, and enjoy yourself at the same time?

Changes in Web system exercise influence at the personal or organizational level. Yamamoto says so-called "new types" in GUNDAM are increasing" and he expects that work styles will have changed entirely when newcomers join the company ten years down the road. Nakagawa says that new generations will increasingly accelerate the openness of information. Looking ahead to such environmental changes, "I'd like to make something to be of assistance there, such as with systems or tools" (Nakagawa), "I'd like to provide services outside Ricoh, which many people use "(Yamamoto), "I'd like to make everything connectable" (Hinohara). These are their hopes for the future. Beyond that, it seems they are eager to create superior services bearing their names so that they can be added to the list of prominent software engineers. "Yeah, and I'd like to make a system that lets me sleep )" (Hinohara).
So what kind of persons do they look for as colleagues to develop such services together? "Those who can move autonomously like the members here. Those who can find solutions by themselves," "Those with skills to write things that make sense since the way information is submitted has been becoming more and more important" (Yamamoto). "Those who can find something to do by themselves" (Hinohara). Those who google before being asked to. Those with a highly sensitive information antenna" (Nakagawa). The common keyword is "autonomy." Takatsu added "Those who can enjoy the job" as a condition. The job may not be easy and a lot of issues, but letfs enjoy overcoming such difficulties as they surely do. The world involving Web technologies will surely become even more exciting.


Watch movie (18:18) [in Japanese]
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Photo: Kazunori Takatsu Kazunori Takatsu (Solutions Lab, The Software R&D Group)
Joined Ricoh in 1991. Since then, involved in varied new projects from theoretical research to product development. Intimate with so many technical fields that his expertise cannot be narrowed down to only one. Has skills in a broad area from assembler to scripting languages for Web applications. Has also participated in various technological strategy decision activities at Ricoh.

Masaki Nakagawa (Office System Development Center, Research and Development Group)
Joined Ricoh in 2005. Engaged in research and development of distributed systems on the Web. Taking advantage of having discovered REST, currently pursuing research and development of distributed systems incorporating the REST essence. Favorite programming language is Perl.
Photo: Masaki Nakagawa

Photo: Yohei Yamamoto Yohei Yamamoto (Solutions Lab. The Software R&D Group)
Joined Ricoh in 2000. Participated in many projects related to XML/Web such as research and development of the Document Highway. His latest interest is the architecture of distributed systems or information architecture. His favorite programming languages are Java and Ruby.

Hiroshi Hinohara (Solutions Lab., The Software R&D Group)
Joined Ricoh in 2001. After having been involved in research and development related to a link between portable devices and office equipment, now works for a team to discover new business communication styles. Currently develops in-house Web applications as a place to test the Web 2.0 viewpoint. His favorite programming language is Ruby.
Photo: Hiroshi Hinohara

2008.03

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