|By Simeon Simeonov||
|May 9, 2007 09:15 PM EDT||
I’ve been around software for 20 years now. Looking back, I have mixed feelings about the progress we’ve made. The end results have been amazing but the process of building software hasn’t fundamentally changed since the 80s. In fact, I see us make some of the same mistakes over and over again. One of the common anti-patterns is over-relying on tools and frameworks instead of inventing new programming models.
Layers of abstraction are fundamental to software. Some layers are defined through programming models, e.g., machine language, assembly language, 3GLs, JSP. Others are defined through a combination of tools and frameworks, e.g., MFC and Visual Studio on top of C++. There is a limit to how high we can raise a level of abstraction through tools and frameworks alone. At some point, a new programming model is the best way forward.
Here are some examples: CASE tools on top of 3GLs never achieved the success of 4GLs; tools and frameworks for Web application development, from CGI + your favorite language to WebObjects to HAHT, were demolished in the market by page-based Web application development models such as ColdFusion, PHP, JSP and ASP.
What we have seen time and time again is that it is often better to come up with a new programming model than to keep pushing an existing model forward by throwing ever more advanced tools and sophisticated frameworks on top. Think of a building. Programming models are the floors. Tools and frameworks are the walls. To build a tall building you need to strike a balance between the number of floors and the height of walls. Beyond a certain point, an extra foot of room height adds very little to the quality of a room but increases the cost of the building substantially.
When should one create a new programming model as opposed to go with a framework and/or tool leverage? What is a programming model anyway? Tough questions, both of them… The first is impossible to answer perfectly or quickly. The second question is a little easier because you can often recognize a new programming model when you see it. One key observation is that you don’t necessarily need a new programming language, as JSP and ASP demonstrate. Sometimes, it is sufficient to create a domain-specific template or wrapper into which existing programming models fit. Also, new programming models may come with their own set of frameworks and tools.
I have some first-hand experience creating new programming models. At Allaire we defined the page-based Web application development model with ColdFusion and later helped the Java community get its act together with JSP and tag libraries. Later at Macromedia, we defined the model for building rich Internet applications (RIAs) with Flash and Flex, something Microsoft will try to catch up to with Avalon in Longhorn (now Windows Vista). In between, we did a lot of work on SOA programming models, though with the burst of the tech bubble we decided not to ship this as an independent product but instead contributed the ideas to Apache and to existing products internally.
Here are some thoughts on two programming models that I hope we can significantly improve in the next few years.
Rich Internet Applications (RIAs)
You have to admit, we did take a step back in usability with the Web. We can build easily accessible applications quickly, but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to go through 10 screens to make an airline reservation?
What we need are applications that have the deployment characteristics of browser-based applications but have equivalent power and more interactivity than desktop applications. That’s what RIAs are all about. They bring complexity on two levels. First, computing happens on both the client and the server over a potentially unreliable WAN. Second, they aim to deliver highly interactive user experiences (UEs). Don’t blow that second requirement off. Research clearly shows that users respond better to these types of interfaces. Who wants to use old-style Web maps when you can go with Google maps or the Flash-based AbMap?
A good RIA programming model will protect developers from the details of location, i.e., the tasks associated with synchronizing data shared between the front- and back-end, invoking back-end services, dealing with online/offline operation, etc. It will also have an advanced rendering engine, preferably one that is cross-platform and device independent, and a presentation model that hides much of the hassle of resolution, screen orientation and internationalization. I’m very biased in making this claim but the only commercially sound approach to RIAs nowadays is with Macromedia Flash and, better, with Flash and Flex together. Microsoft Avalon is the closest competing technology. It has yet to ship. AJAX, contrary to what many believe, has been around since at least 1998 but didn’t have a cool acronym. AJAX + DHTML offer an alternative but there has been little success moving from specific cool apps to a generalized programming model. Java doesn’t cut it, primarily for UE reasons. There is plenty of room for improvement.
Don’t forget mobile applications. More than PC-based applications, they really need a makeover and there are a lot of dollars at stake. Microbrowsers are trying to find ways to bring AJAX + DHTM ± WAP to devices. Java has deep market penetration but poor UE. Brew has the best device integration but is similar to Java on the UE front. Flash Lite is gaining traction here because of the great UE it enables.
There is no question about it - you can build composite applications using Java, .NET or any other programming language for that matter, just as you can build Web apps using C++ and write admin scripts in Cobol. Why would you, though?
One of the cornerstones of SOA is that services can be implemented using anything. That’s great but traditional approaches for writing the glue code between services leave a lot to be desired. What we need are deeper and more declarative mechanisms for putting services together. BPEL and the WS-* standards are both too much and not enough. Do this: print all the specs and stack them together. Now, think about how much ad hoc work you had to do to build, deploy and operate your last composite app. Do you feel comfortable with where the industry is going?
Building, deploying and operating composite applications requires dealing with issues such as policy definition and enforcement, service evolution/versioning, system/deployment architectures and post-deployment management and monitoring. This goes into what traditionally has been considered to be the IT sphere of influence, often a taboo area for development. However, I deeply believe that a winning programming model has to begin to address these issues. Just consider some of the complexities. How do you maintain applications over time as services evolve? How do you debug them? When something doesn’t work right in a production application, how do you track down the root cause? If you don’t address these issues during the architecture and design phases you’re in for pain down the road.
Talk like this takes us into the realm of utility computing, whatever that means (definitions still vary). Perhaps this is what’s necessary to make building, testing, deploying and operating composite applications easy. There is plenty of innovation in this space. Unfortunately, much of it is in the form of add-on products as opposed to a comprehensive programming model-driven approach to the problem. This is bad news for customers who run the risk of experiencing the dubious pleasures of vendor lock-in.
My personal wish list for innovative programming models is longer, for example, covering ultra-scalable applications that run on large clusters (>= 32 nodes). I even think that we can do a lot better with the decade-old Web application model. Just look at some of the work going on with Ruby on Rails. As both a technologist and an investor I’m excited about the future.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accelerate their digital channels with APIs, drive partner adoption, monetize their assets, and achieve a...
Oct. 31, 2014 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,111
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
Oct. 31, 2014 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,183
SYS-CON Events announced today that AgilePoint, the leading provider of Microsoft-centric Business Process Management software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 2nd International @ThingsExpo which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. AgilePoint is the leading provider of Microsoft-based Business Process Management (BPM) software products, has 1,300+ on-premise and cloud deployments in 25+ countries and provides the same advanced BPM feature set as J2EE vendors like IBM and Appian for the Microsoft .NET native environment. AgilePoint customer...
Oct. 31, 2014 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,289
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
Oct. 31, 2014 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,615
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
Oct. 31, 2014 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,969
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, will describe an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people’s real needs and desires.
Oct. 31, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,836
SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,710
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,388
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,344
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
Oct. 31, 2014 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,005
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Oct. 31, 2014 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,675
SYS-CON Events announces a new pavilion on the Cloud Expo floor where WebRTC converges with the Internet of Things. Pavilion will showcase WebRTC and the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices--computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
Oct. 30, 2014 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,223
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
Oct. 30, 2014 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,475
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...
Oct. 30, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,619
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
Oct. 30, 2014 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,089
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
Oct. 30, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,782
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Oct. 30, 2014 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,203
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics...
Oct. 30, 2014 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,642
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
Oct. 30, 2014 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,313
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
Oct. 29, 2014 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,087