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The Good and the Bad, Part One

It is probably a bit early to be looking back on the current year, but I need most of the month of December to figure out my technology wish list for 2007. I spent some time looking back at 2006 to what I thought were significant events for the year, both good and bad. Good events generally have a positive outcome for the industry and for software developers in particular. Bad events reflect poorly on the industry, and have negative outcomes for some or all developers. Below is the good list; in a few days I'll post the bad one.

The Good.

  1. Open source Java. Someday soon I'll write a longer missive on programming languages. But for the time being, note that the acceptance and use of a programming language is not a static thing. Languages become popular based on their ease of use and the relevance of new features, and they decline in popularity as features become old and stale, and no longer relevant to the problems faced by the development community.

    Java tends to keep up with development trends, although perhaps not as fast as we like. But many of its core features are no longer as innovative as they once were, and the language and platform have grown large and cumbersome. The open source community may fragment Java, but it will almost certainly trim it down and keep it relevant.
  2. Windows Vista. Whatever you may think of Microsoft's new flagship OS, it will generate excitement in the industry, and increase sales of everything from hardware to system management tools. A lot of money, development resources, and marketing dollars will be spent on getting Vista and third party supporting products built and accepted by users. While building Vista-specific applications using .NET 3.0 will require that we all learn new things, change is part and parcel of being a developer.
  3. The coming of age of wireless connectivity. Growing access to wireless connectivity does more than change the way we work; it changes the way we think. When I want to know the answer to something, I Google (yes, it has become a verb), and can do so from just about anywhere I find myself. Increasingly, when I cannot, I tend to feel lost at not having a wealth information at my fingertips.
  4. The emergence of Eclipse. This year the attendance at EclipseCon was 50 percent more than it was in 2005, which itself was more than 50 percent over the previous year. And over thirty new Eclipse projects have been started or proposed over the past year, according to Eclipse Director Mike Milinkovich (yet the Eclipse Foundation itself has managed to remain surprisingly lean).

    Today, Eclipse is seen as the counterpoint to Visual Studio, but it is more than that. It has become a platform for development, a characteristic that until now has largely been the province of the operating system. And while it is commonly associated with Java development, it is reaching well beyond that.
  5. Visual Studio Team System. It is easy to dismiss Team System as both late to the game and offering little new for development teams, but that misses the point. Up until now, all of the features of Team System were available, but as separate tools. They were difficult and clumsy to use together. Team System changes that. We will not all run out and buy Team System for our development teams, but it will change how we view the development lifecycle.

    Lifecycle vendors have paid lip service to integration for years, but now they must put up or shut up. Either they get serious about integrating the disparate tools they have built or acquired over the years, or risk ceding their customers to Microsoft or others who do so.

Posted by Peter Varhol on 11/29/2006

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