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Another Fine Jolt

For the last 20 years, Dr. Dobb's Jolt Awards have honored the best products in software development. Originally the brainchild of Larry O'Brien, the then-editor in chief of Computer Language magazine, the Jolts were seen as a competitive differentiator from the publication's sworn arch-enemy, Dr. Dobb's. Over the years, due to mergers and acquisitions, the two magazines (along with several other publications) were unified under the Dr. Dobb's banner. As you know, we continue to advance their respective legacies by providing deep coverage of programming topics with lots of illustrative code.

This month, we kick off a new season of Jolt awards. In this incarnation, there will be six product categories with awards announced on a bi-monthly cycle: architecture & design, books, coding tools, libraries, testing, and utilities. Once again, vendors and users can nominate products. When nominations close, the judges comb through the usually numerous nominees and winnow the field to six final products. From those, three are selected after detailed testing: the Jolt Award winner, which is the top product, and two runners up, which receive the Productivity Awards.

Many discussions of the awards have termed the Jolts “the Academy Awards of software development.” There is good reason for this high accolade: The judges carefully evaluate the finalists by loading, running, and testing the software and then comparing notes. To my knowledge, this is the only award in software that can make this claim.

Having served three times as a judge for other award programs, I can assure you that those judges are not required to use the product. Only the Jolts do that. And as a result, when I look back at the last 20 years of award winners, I find very, very few questionable winners.

As we begin this new cycle, we are again looking for Jolt judges in all categories except books. Here are the basic requirements: 15 years' paid experience as a full-time software developer, solid experience in the category of products you're judging, no connection to a vendor or developer of any product in the category, a lack of predisposing biases, the ability to work collaboratively, and a willingness to sacrifice the better part of several weekends and evenings. In return, you will get the recognition of being a judge, the pleasure of collaborating with some very bright folks, and in most cases, a long-term license to each of the finalist products for your personal use. We have other rewards as well, but these vary from year to year. If you think you qualify and might be interested, please drop me a line at [email protected].

This year, we're also going to practice what we preach. We're going to use VMs in the cloud for installation of server-based products. This should reduce the amount of time judges spend and give us additional familiarity with the use of the cloud as a testing platform. Rackspace has kindly donated the cloud instances we need for this purpose.

— Andrew Binstock, Dr. Dobb's Executive Editor
[email protected]

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