I have worked in Uniface training for more than 20 years – yes, I know, you’d think I’d be better at it by now wouldn’t you; I’ve heard them all. For all but the last two years, that training was instructor led classroom based: Either a public course, with attendees from many different customers, often held at Uniface offices, or private, usually onsite, training for a group from a single customer. In the last two years Uniface has been delivering instructor led training over the Internet, through a combination of WebEx – for voice and visual training aids – and CloudShare, for a student individual virtual machine in which to complete the exercises. As we begin creating the training for Uniface 10, I wish to review the current methods and, perhaps, provide an opportunity for discussion on the future. The benefits of classroom training are, in the main part, obvious: For public, offsite courses:

  • The instructor usually has control over the environment.  It should be clean, quiet, well lit and comfortable.  It will be equipped to a standard to meet all the needs of the training with dedicated, course specific machines and good visual and audio aids.
  • The delegate is away from the workplace with time that is dedicated to the learning; at least, that used to be so: With mobile phones and email, work often follows the student into the classroom.
  • Students benefit from interaction with other delegates: Students often learn from one and another as well as the instructor - sharing knowledge and experience. Perhaps even providing a network after the training ends.
  • The instructor can overlook student exercises in progress and spot mistakes at an early stage.

The same benefits can apply to onsite courses although, in some cases, the environment is not a dedicated training area and students can, too easily, be “pulled” from the room to deal with workplace issues. The disadvantages might be:

  • The course schedule may not suit the student
  • The student (public) or the instructor (onsite) has to travel with the consequent accommodation and transport expenses.

Online instructor led training certainly saves on cost but it is, of course, subject to the vagaries of internet connections.  There have been occasions where a single student has a poor connection that slows the instruction for the remainder of the group and can frustrate in the completion of exercises.  Recommended speeds can be set but broadband speed tests can be somewhat hit and miss and we have no way of checking that the student “tick in the box” for this pre-requisite has been met.  However, this has been the exception rather than the rule and remedies have been found for most problems. The feedback from online training has been very good, particularly where groups of students are working together from the same location.  It, perhaps, can be a little lonely working entirely alone for 5 days! For Uniface 10 there will be instructor led training, both classroom and online; the decisions that have to be made are in regard to self-paced, computer based training, either downloadable or in the Cloud. It has been suggested that we should break the training down into short modules by topic, with the use of video snippets to support the text base.   Whilst that is possible it is not necessarily easy to administer;, care has to be taken not to lose the coherence of the learning path.  Taking modules out of sequence may cause issues because of the incremental nature of the information.  There is also the problem that there is no instructor available to resolve difficulties with exercises, although this may be resolved through support from ‘guides’. Uniface is a sophisticated product.  Foundation training is currently two 5 day courses, although not all students attend the Advanced Training.  My concern is that downloadable video snippets by topic will be appealing on a number of grounds, not least cost and convenience.  But Training requires validation and part of that process is checking the exercises, as we currently do in both the classroom and online. One way to resolve the disconnect between training and validation is by Certification.  My own opinion, (I stress these are my personal thoughts and not any official Uniface policy or thinking) is that I would like to see this take two forms:

1. Certified Professional. An online test, of the type used in other programmes. 2. Certified Practitioner.  A very thorough examination of the candidate’s Uniface skills, probably through attendance at a workshop that would set a task to design, build, test and deploy of a small application.

Certification would be version based with a What’s New update to move to the next level. I don’t, at this stage, wish to discuss what benefits would be offered to certified individuals but there would, no doubt, be advantages to joining such a club. So, how about it Unifacers ?  Do you have any thoughts on Training for Uniface 10?  Or, indeed, Uniface Training in general?  What about certification?  Let’s see your comments. For any Uniface Training related matter other than comments on this blog, don’t hesitate to contact me on  Uniface.training@compuware.com Dave Yexley

18 Comments

  1. Hi Dave, a really good idea to give the community a quick outline of the uniface training posssibilities and ask for feedback. But I think commenting this blog is not the best way to do it.

    The very first one is that (at least for me), this comment will be a very long one (I will spend some time in the next days on this). The other one is that any layout on these comments seems to vanish as soon as one post his comment. Makes all the texts very hard to read.

    A quick one: in the ages before compuware, Leo Hulstman started with the secured "Certfied Conultant/Senior Consultant" title and a very strict chedule of courses and activities one has to follow to get that certificate. He demanded that only this way a decent quality could be reached. I remember to get the certificate to give a course, you do not only have to attend the course itself in Amsterdam (given by Dave Naylor or Tony Hardenberg), but there was another day on the didactic part of the course plus a demo course part you have to work out and hold in front of the other attendants plus Dave, Tony and Leo. You got a lot of feedback and had a good and open discussion with the training department in Amsterdam.

    But this was 1995  and I wonder if this scheme could be introduced in our times.

  2. My two cents: Only if we implement a certification system that is supported by the whole Uniface organization and is sponsored by senior management, it makes sense to me. No matter how good or bad the system initially is. One of the major components of such a system is self reflection, so it will be improved by the time it grows. You need to have the process in place. We use to have a full-blown Uniface certification system ("Unifacecertification.doc" from 1997, I still have the document somewhere in my cloud or on my HD) but there seemed to be so many reasons to let this system die. Cost cutting was one of them. The only person supporting and maintaining this system was Leo H. I guess. We had Arno v H, Saskia H and some others to manage the operational maintenance stuff. As a consequence the certification system vanished when Leo H left Uniface to enjoy his little boat and went out fishing. The educational system was never really adopted by the organization. (I could elaborate on the Uniface academy now, but I don't) And now to comment a little more on the blog: I am a strong believer in personal contact, especially when we do a Foundation-like training. This way the student/customer learns both about the product and the people, that is an added value. It will lower the threshold for follow up courses, online or classroom. More advanced courses can be more focussed on short topics. If well-designed it can easily be an online or Computer-Based training. BTW (yep disclaimer): All said is my personal opinion, you never know...
  3. I leave my little penny: I personally agree with Berry, However, there is a new property that will dictate the guidelines from now on, so we will be heard?
  4. Why creating certificates? Imhop You can work with a product or not. My question does it help me to find a job in the uniface area? Does it improve my income? Will it help me in the future? I spend a lot of time on 9.6 functionality...improving my framework...all pure 9.6 e.g. Form widgets, struct, html widget, extab widget, and so on...the big question did that investment improves my income? the answer: no, it was funn, a nice exercition, that's it. Business wise: Bottom line, money counts, not only for your customer saving time using a power-tool like uniface, but also for developers to improve the chance on the market using the power-tool. (spending time and money on a certification programm should result in a better change on the market, and/or must improve income). Take for example a look at w3c schools...a perfect example how you can combine promotion of your product in combination with validating the current skill levels. No investment, but you can promote yourself on the web with a marvelous website. Spend time to improve the number of people that want's to work with the product. Expand the market. All other stuff are not important.
  5. i agree with BK. In case you can deliver one day personal trainings, it will help to get your customers in your classroom. Extend the idea behind unividuals face2face extra membership (to get low cost training) is good. Create a training membership with the Uniface community and offer personal training on demand (kind of a hotel system...book a night/day enjoy and go).
  6. I too agree with what has been said. Dino make a great point on 'what does the certification do for me?'. As far as the training is concerned, just like everything else, it is always going to be demand driven. If the customer wants cheap knowledge at his fingertips, then online is the way to go. If they want deep, thorough education then instructor led, perhaps customized, workshops and facilitations are their preference. The offer should be open... Strive to give the best possible outcome for whatever the customer wants. Of course keeping in mind that training itself is a product, and it should also be sold with the suggestion of its value.  
  7. Just as Dino Seelig mentioned: will it help me make (more) money? On a market where uniface projects are hard to find,it seems to be a waste  spending time and money.
  8. Thanks to all those that have replied.  I am considering all the points made and will post my comments in the near future.  Dave
  9. Hi Dave, Since most of the Uniface gurus I know have taken the time to write a comment let me give you my five cents.Uniface is not a linear programming language. It is not an OO language. It is a 4GL. It is a niche. A small IT segment in a vast ocean of IT services. Very few people comprehend in detail its inner workings. I have been using Uniface for about twenty years and I have seen many screw-ups fiddle around in business critical systems, totally ignorant but coding away happily. IT Managers experience the application as crap. Not because it is but because the developers that tinkered with it didn’t know what they were doing. A bit like buying a Ferrari and having it repaired by your brother in law. So training is a necessary evil if Uniface wants to survive. For several reasons. First it is important to Uniface (the company) to generate repeat business. So they need to make sure that their users understand the product, appreciate it and can work with it. Secondly I used to think I was a pretty good Uniface developer. Six, Seven and a little of Eight went fine. But since Nine I am not so sure, it is not the same development tool. I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t score very well on a Uniface exam. I would probably pass, by the skin of my teeth. Imho some of the gurus out there would do no better. Uli is right. The Uniface projects are scarce so why should you invest in Uniface training. For Uniface (again the company) it is important to keep spreading the gospel. If you want to be the better religion you need to be the better missionary (compared to Java and .NET).What should the training look like? Achieving a certain level of competence should be associated with pride, a sense of accomplishment if you will. If you compare it to brain surgery, you start as intern and work your way up before you ever get a change to operate on a brain. Entry level could be component programmer and brain surgeon could be application model developer. You could borrow some ideas from the way Oracle and Microsoft go about this.I think the argument of more money mentioned here is a little shortsighted. If you get the repeat business because you did it better and more efficient than training and certification is about the money. So it is about delivering quality to your customer (and as a consequence repeat business). You don't want the cleaning lady to do your brain surgery would you? Would you use a gun (or operate heavy machinery, for those that don't like guns) without proper instruction?On a personal note. I would be interested in taking a certification exam. I would not be willing to spend money on it. Basic economics suggests that you should not spend money on a skill that is not in demand. But I would be willing to study to get the certification, because I believe it is still a better product than either Java or .NET. So there is grounds to get to some kind of tradeoff.
  10. hmm... learned couple things today.If you post something directly from MsWord into this section it contains stuff you didnot intend to post You donot own that comment any more so deletion of the comment is no longer an optionSorry for that.
  11. Hi Uli,  You are right: We don't have the resources today to run Training on the lines that Leo and Tony did all those years ago.  However, I believe the change of ownership in Uniface is a very positive move and I am sure that there will be growth in the company in the coming years.  I too believe that classroom training is an excellent method of delivery but, with online training so prevalent,  there a many companies who view it as a cheaper and more convenient option.  Given those circumstances,  I consider that the right way is to bring to remote training the quality achieved through face to face courses. I am grateful that I have the support of people of exceptional experience, like yourself, in working toward that goal.
  12. Hi Berry,Thanks for your post.  You make valid points points regarding the need for support from the whole team in respect of certification.  I believe that we now have the right people in place to provide that infrastructure and am sure that whatever system may be introduced (and it is still a "maybe") it will be of sufficient quality to offer something useful, especially to the "newbie" in the Uniface market who looks to establish their credentials.As I've mentioned in my reply to Uli, I consider the change in ownership in the company brings the prospect of growth and strong support for Training. 
  13. Hi,Thanks for your post.  As to your comment regarding the change of ownership, I believe that it is positive and your voice will be heard.  Only time will tell, of course, but everything I've seen and heard so far, points to a brighter future for the product and those who work  with it.
  14. Hi Dino,Thanks for your post.It may be that certification does not offer as much to someone like you, experienced and very well known for a level of expertise and capability throughout the community.  However, I believe that it should provide a very useful way for new people to establish their credentials and give employers a confidence that those they are considering have, at least, demonstrated that they are able to produce results to a certain level of efficiency.You are right that W3C sets a good example and I would very much like to work toward a similar environment.  We have had commercial constraints in the past that may now change.I can assure you that we are now actively looking to expand the market and the number of individuals involved with the product as well as their quality in delivery. 
  15. Hi Ronny,  Thanks for your post.  As I have outlined, in my reply to Dino, I consider that certification does offer something to the market, for both individuals and companies using Uniface.I too believe that classroom training is a most effective way to deliver training - at present our online training is instructor led; we have, not yet, a 'self-teach' option.  If we do go down that route, I would like to see strong support through the use of "guides": Experienced people who will provide online support to those taking computer based training.Training is a product, as you rightly point out, and we are a commercial company.  The feedback I get from our current courses is good but there is no question that there is always room for improvement and there is no complacency.  We will certainly "strive to give the best possible outcome for whatever the customer wants" but I think it is our task to discover more of that those needs and requirements might be through this type of discussion.  For that reason, I am grateful for your comments.
  16. Hi Uli,  I believe that we can provide more opportunities with Uniface and increase the number of new developments by improving the quality and numbers of developers capable of building efficient, reliable and maintainable applications.  To do that, especially the final point, training and feedback are an essential ingredient.  Certification will  provide feedback for the individuals and confidence for the companies concerned.I would reiterate that these comments are my own thoughts and assure you that no time or money has, as yet, been devoted to the project.  I hope that through this type of communication we can optimise the chances of producing the right model. 
  17. Hi,  Thank you for your comments.  My experience, like your's, suggests that there is considerable room for improvement among many of those currently working in Uniface projects.  My task is to encourage them to take part in training that will improve their effectiveness.  Offering smaller, targetted, training that addresses particular advanced topics is possibly the way to get those people involved.   At the moment, my focus is on bringing more new developers into the fold, but I would hope that the future leads us to the sort of graduated training that you outline for the interns and consultants. 
  18. Hi Dave,the time and money is seen from my personal perspective:                        if there are no uniface customers outside with active projects,they will not hire freelancers like me.                            And if there are no projects to make my living, why should I waste ....