Applications for the Masses by the Masses: Why Engineers Are An Endangered Species

I did a session last week at JavaOne 2008 where I talked about how application development, and the role of application developers, is changing. Here's the abstract:


When we engineers normally think of applications, we think of elaborate technology that takes highly trained developers weeks, months, or years to develop and debug. But our days are possibly numbered. In this era of light-speed boom and bust, the demand for technology is higher than ever and engineers and their traditional development techniques simply can’t keep up. What’s needed is “disposable applications,” applications so quick and easy to write that they are cheaper to throw away than to maintain and which the increasing numbers of casual technologists can consume and even create themselves.

Fueling this demand in recent months has been the release of high-profile web platforms (such as Facebook, Ning, Meebo, and others) that increasingly enable nontechnical users to compose mashups and other social and situational applications out of widgets and RESTful-style web services, all built by use of lightweight technologies and composed right from the browser.

This session describes how these factors are coming together to produce a new paradigm of application development in which hordes of 16-year-olds are in charge and software engineers are overwhelmed by the flood of applications created by tech-savvy novices. It also examines the roles of high technology versus technology for the masses and shows that they are actually complementary and a boon to engineers and nonengineers alike.

...

I presented to about 500 people over two sessions on Wednesday and Friday, and despite the fact that I could not show a demo, it was a rapt audience. Since then, coverage has been popping up around the Web.

Here are slides and links to articles and other material:

Articles

Blogs

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