Applications for the Masses by the Masses: Why Engineers Are An Endangered Species
By toddfast on May 12, 2008
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:
- Developers' role shifting from apps to platforms (InfoWorld) (digg it)
- Sun Java chief to developers: 'We're genetic freaks' (Reg Developer)
- Widgets Revolutionizing App Development (Redmond Developer News)
- "The most entertaining session that I attended was Todd Fast's...All I need is a 2.0 development environment and I ready to go." (Octavian Tanase's blog)
- "The award for Loudest Applause at a non-keynote session goes to Todd Fast... His talk centered on the long tail of user-constructed applications. But that summary doesn't do justice to the masterful way he deconstructed the space." (Artima Developer)
- "The second talk I thoroughly enjoyed was given by Todd Fast...looking at the changing dynamics in application building" (Gail Anderson)
- "The session...by Todd Fast...highlighted the trend that the new generations are confident in customizing or extending applications; not in the traditional way but using tools handed by traditional developers." (Floris' Blog)