Marketing Posing as Articles

I stumbled over the IT Web article touting the lack of Java developers who lack high-level skills. On one hand, their statistics confirm some recent thoughts and observations about the quality of the “average” developer, but that is a topic for another time. What really got me riled up, though, is how quickly the article turns from this teaser statistic and turns into full-scale hype about MDA, particularly Compuware’s OptimalJ.

This article is part of a growing trend launched at the development community. Previously, this sort of veiled marketing was confined to the so-called analysts: Gartner, Forrester, etc, but recently I’m noticing an increasing number of content that is nothing short of marketing packaged up as a case study or other article, and pointed directly at the development community. At last year’s Atlanta Java Software Symposium, a session called “Model-Driven Developers do it faster” focused very little on the concept of MDA, and quickly became a session singing the praises of OptimalJ. (In fairness, every other session of the conference WAS highly informative, and I’m guessing the presenters pitched the session to NFJS differently than the reality of it.) In general, about half the “content” on The Server Side has become product announcements, and worse, we have their “Productivity Case Study” and “MDA Maintainability Research”, both of which were blatent attempts to tout a product under the guise of research and news.

These devious attempts continue to trickle down even to the local level. On several occasions over the past couple of years, local JUG meetings have become little more than marketing presentations (this is the exception far more than the rule). Kudos to Solarmetric, for doing a presentation on JDO that didn’t plug Kodo every 5 minutes, but other “presenters” have used the opportunity to take a captive audience of Java developers who are interested in growing their skills and try to sell them on a product. In general, I think the folks in charge, TSS, NFJS, the local JUG, all have been told they’re getting a presentation on a topic, not a product, but what comes out is a bunch of marketing slides, with just enough content to stake the claim that they did cover a broad topic, such as JMS, Web Services, MDA, O/R Mapping, App Server technology.

It’s offensive really, that these vendors think it a brilliant idea to come in and pollute development communities with their useless marketing slides. They are, at the same time, making useful forums useless, and upsetting the very people they’re hoping to win over. The most egregious offender by far is Compuware. While their products may be useful (I’m not fully decided on this), their deceptive and overwhelming attempts to flood the market with half-information/half-marketing articles, presentations, and postings about OptimalJ is nothing short of insulting. I hope the Java communtiy at large will rebuff these overtures from the vendors, explicitly recommending against the use of products from these vendors until stop these underhanded attempts to fool developers into listening, and just stick to convincing people on the merits of their product. If the products are truly worthy, they’ll stand on their own merits.

— In the interest of equal time, here’s a snip from the TSS discussion on the topic (response directed at someone else). —

This article was not “bought” or “sponsored” by Compuware, and I think it’s unfortunate that you’re characterizing it that way. It’s pretty typical for software vendors to talk to the press about their products, but that doesn’t make the articles that result from the interviews “advertising”.

If you have any further questions about Compuware’s advertising practices, please feel to contact me directly.

Mike Burba
Product Manager
Compuware OptimalJ

— End of snip —

So this article seems to be independently slanted toward OptimalJ. I stand by my remarks about the fake news/article/presentation aproach that vendors are embracing. In this case, it’s more Gartner’s typical pay-us-and-we’ll-talk-about-your-product strategy than an overt effort on the part of the vendor. (Vendors don’t pay for particular articles, just for consideration in certain “studies”, which then gets them preferential placement when that product space comes up.) That doesn’t make it squeaky clean, just more in line with what we’ve come to know and love abour Gartner.