Lately when I listen to talks on new and hot stuff for developers, be it in person or on the internet, I have the feeling that its not possibly me who’s being talked to.
It’s not just like having seen the latest web development framework over and over again – it’s that’s it’s only ever Web frameworks – sort of. It’s the unpleasant feeling that there is a hell of a lot of noise about stuff that matters very little.
This post got triggered when my long time colleague Georgi told me about Atomist, the new project by Rod Johnson of Spring Framework fame. Atomist is code generation on steroids and will no doubt get a lot of attention in the future. It allows you create and re-use code transformations to quickly create or alter projects – rather than, say, copy-pasting project skeletons.
There may well be a strong market for tools and practices that focus on rapidly starting a project. And that is definitely good for the show. It is really far away from my daily software design and development experience though, where getting started is the least problem.
Problems we work on are the actual business process implementation, code and module structure, extensibility in projects and for specific technology adaptations, data consistency and data scalability, point-in-time recovery, and stuff like “what does it mean to roll this out into production systems that are constantly under load?”.
Not saying that there is no value in frameworks that can do some initial stuff, or even consistently alter some number of projects later (can it?– Any better than a normal refactoring?) – but over the lifetime of a project or even product this seems to add comparatively little value.
So is this because it is just so much simpler to build and marketeer a new Web framework than anything else? Is there really so much more demand? Or is this simply a case of Streetlight effect?
I guess most of the harder problems that show up in the back-ends of growing and heavily used applications cannot be addressed by technology per se – but instead can only addressed by solution patterns (see e.g. Martin Fowler’s Patterns of Enterprise Architecture) to be adhered to. The back-end is where long-lasting value is created though. Far away from the front end. So it should be worthwhile to do something about it.
There is one example of an extremely successful technology that has a solid foundation, some very successful implementations, an impressively long history, and has become the true spine of business computing: The relational database.
Any technology that would standardize and solve problems like application life cycle management, work load management – just to name two – on the level that the relational database model and SQL have standardized data operations should have a golden future.
- Rod Johnson on Atomist
- Streetlight Effect
- Martin Fowler’s Patterns of Enterprise Architecture
* it may as well be micro-services (a technical approach that aims to become the “Web” of the backend). But then look at stuff like this