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Developers Aren't Obsolete Yet

One of the most popular claims from SOA vendors is that developers will soon be doing a lot less coding.

Talking to SOA vendors about their plans for 2008, one of the most popular claims is that developers will be doing a lot less coding. In some ways, that's not a surprise: The whole point of making apps into reusable services is to avoid having to write new ones from scratch. But two other trends are changing the traditional development process much more radically:

  • Web 2.0. Yes, it's a buzzword, but it isn't completely meaningless. The Web 2.0 hype usually describes either a technology (Ajax, RSS, browser-based apps) or a social phenomenon (community, collaboration, free-flowing information.) If you believe vendors of enterprise mashup technologies, putting the two together will mean that line-of-business employees will be building applications, just as ordinary Internet users already are.

  • BPM. Regarded by many vendors as the killer app for SOA, Business Process Management looks set to be one the year's fastest-growing technologies. Adding BPM to SOA blurs the line between standard composite applications.(coded by developers) and BPM models (designed by business analysts.)

And it doesn't stop there. BEA is promoting less coding as a major benefit of SCA (Service Component Architecture), something that others say is more about cross-platform interoperability or parallelization for multicore CPUs. Going beyond 2008, Microsoft's Oslo aims to make Windows development so easy that every end user can do it, primarily through replacing code with a BPM-style model.

So does this mean that most programming will soon be done by non-programmers? I asked agile development guru Martin Fowler about this for the current issue of InformationWeek, and he was extremely skeptical. I think he's right, although the technologies that open up development to the rest of us are still welcome.

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