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Ten Things for the New Year, Part 2

In my last post, I noted that I had no special skills in prognostication, and no desire to fall into the trap of making uninformed predications. Instead, for 2007 I am listing ten things that I would like to see happen for the new year. Whether or not they do is another issue entirely.

Here is the second part of the list. You can find the first part at http://www.ftponline.com/weblogger/forum.aspx?ID=11&DATE=01/04/2007#713.

6. Mobile applications become ubiquitous. And this means mobile connections, too. I almost always travel with my laptop, and feel out of touch when I can't find a wireless connection. In some hotels, the wired connections can still be unreliable and unrealistically expensive. I would kill for a national wireless Internet plan that is similar to my cell phone plan.

7. The user interface becomes the most important part of an application. Many applications still have poor user interfaces. And that goes for our new client operating system, Windows Vista. Joel Spolsky notes (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/11/21.html) that Vista provides a large array of confusing and duplicate choices just to turn off the computer. Moishe Lettvin replies (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/11/24.html) with his estimate (from personal involvement) that it took 24 people a year to design that system. This only goes to demonstrate that effort alone does not cut it. What does do so is a concise definition of the goal of the interface, and a focus on the minimum complexity needed to accomplish that goal.

But we rarely build software in general like that; why should the UI be any different. Because more than anything else, the UI both defines the product and determines its success.

8. Java and .NET learn to work together. Java has been with us for almost 12 years; .NET for almost six (and older but similar Microsoft technologies have been used for years longer). CORBA was a complex failure (though a decent technical achievement), and Web Services are not being widely used to connect the platforms. Those who are responsible for building applications and integrating them into existing application infrastructures shouldn't have to choose one or the other because of the limitations imposed by past choices. They just have a job to do. Let's see the Microsoft and Java communities band together to make that possible.

9. My cell phone remains only my cell phone for a while longer. Don't get me wrong; I like music, but I prefer my quiet. The iPhone does nothing for me, although I concede Apple's ability to generate buzz among those for whom buzz is a way of life. I wouldn't mind a Web-enabled phone, except that the user interface problems of the small form factor are intractable (see #7 above).

Further, I want my cell phone off on the plane. I once had to tolerate a women sitting next to me on her cell phone in the process of firing the person at the other end, right up until the time the cabin door was closed. Upon landing three hours later, she turned on the phone once again and continued the process. Spare me this in flight.

10. The software industry continues to surprise and amaze me. I have been a part of the software community for two decades, and cannot imagine doing anything else with my life. In New England, we have a saying that if you don't like the weather, wait 20 minutes and it will change. The software development community is exactly like that. For anyone looking for excitement and intellectual challenge, I cannot recommend a better place to spend a career.

Posted by Peter Varhol on 01/15/2007


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