How simply can you describe MQ?

Came across this XKCD graphic, trying to describe the Apollo 5 rocket using just the most common 1000 words in English. Which has led to this page, allowing you to try to express an idea with the same limitations.

So I started to wonder about how to explain MQ, and quickly found that “message” is not in the permitted list. It could be made easier if there were a linked thesaurus, but that takes some of the fun away.

I did get as far as “conversation between computers can continue even when one not running”.

This post was last updated on November 18th, 2019 at 03:36 pm

Bigger Brother draft redbook also now available

The first public draft of the full V7.1 and V7.5 redbook is now available. The (very) big brother of the new MQ primer has about 450 pages of information and scenarios. As a draft, again, it’s subject to change before final publication.

This book is completely new. It covers a mix of features on both distributed and z/OS platforms.

Updating a classic

When someone is new to MQ, the document they are often told to read is the MQSeries Primer. This is a very short publication from the IBM Redbooks team (the ITSO) that covers the basics of MQ. But it was written in 1999 and has not been updated to take account of new features (or even the new product name).

MQSeries Primer
MQSeries Primer

A few months ago, we got approval to write a new book covering features of the recent MQ 7.1 and 7.5 releases. I’m not going to talk much more about that book in this post, and I’ll let some others from the team comment on it if they wish. The book is still being written, and I expect to see a draft in about a month’s time.

New book on MQ
IBM Redbook on MQ V7.1 and V7.5

But I decided my participation was also an opportunity to refresh the Primer. We should be able to reuse material: have an introduction to MQ in the full book, but also have it as a standalone Redpiece still referenced from the same URL as the original primer.

I read the 1999 material quickly and thought it would be reasonably simple to modify aspects like the product name or lists of features, and remove obsolete comments such as the one about Y2K compliance. But nothing is ever that simple.

First problem was that the ITSO couldn’t find the source to the document. But at least we could get the text extracted from the PDF and Marcela did a superb job re-tagging the paragraphs so it looked sensible in the authoring environment.

Then I started on the rewrite.

The ITSO has style guidelines for its books, to ensure consistency and clarity. The Primer met very few of those guidelines.

I felt it was not structured in the sequence I would do it. So I’ve been moving and rearranging content.

It had too many specific comments about features that might have been exciting or new in the V5.x releases – those either had to be removed or rewritten to show them as standard features.

And so on …

Right now I’m about half-way through the rewrite, before the editors get their hands on it to “correct” my English spelling into American (another style point that seems more of a rule than a guideline).

I suspect that almost none of the original text will survive this exercise. But I’m not going to denigrate the book – it still has most of the right subjects at the right kind of level. What I originally wanted to do was cosmetic surgery, but we’ve ended up with a brain/body transplant instead. Even so, I hope my rewrite will preserve and respect the intention of what Dieter wrote in 1999. And that we can continue to have a basic introduction to MQ that people find valuable.

This post was last updated on November 27th, 2021 at 03:01 pm

Berlin – Websphere Technical Conference

The WTC event is still going on as I write this page. It’s a great alternative to the massive Impact conference that is in Las Vegas every spring. A smaller, more focussed conference, it’s ideal for European customers and IBM teams to meet up towards the end of the year and hear technical sessions about a range of WebSphere products. Though it’s not required that you are from Europe – this time I ran into two colleagues from Australia who had decided it was easier to get to Germany than Nevada.

It seemed that this year we had the same number of attendees as last year, but the venue was much smaller. Instead of spreading across an enormous conference centre, we used a hotel’s facilities with the advantage that it was much easier to meet people. And we could stay in the same location instead of having to get a train/bus.

For my talks this year at WTC, I presented on what’s new in MQ V7.1 and V7.5, and a session on MQ’s Managed File Transfer solution. I also did a talk about monitoring and auditing that was given the alternative title (which we weren’t allowed to publish) “WebSphere MQ: What the $*@# is going on?“. All sessions well-attended and I didn’t see anyone falling asleep even though two of them were right after (large) lunch.

The European technical conferences used to be notorious for afternoon snoozing, as when I started doing them 15 years ago, wine was served at lunch. One of our team knew the phrase for “leave the bottle” in almost every language. That’s been discontinued, but there is still a relaxing attitude at the meals.

I didn’t want to leave early, but I had to get back to Hursley for another event. And next week, planning starts for the content of Impact 2013.