Can developers use high level tools without lock in?
Last week I wrote about WaveMaker and its new Web 2.0 development environment comparing it to PowerBuilder. One of the big problems that someone pointed out to me is that PowerBuilder was proprietary. Because old software never dies, IT organizations are still coping with old PowerBuilder applications that they have to support. Does this mean that we should avoid all development environments that hide the complexity of traditional programming environments? In my view that would be unrealistic. While there are some very talented developers in the world who can do quick magic with Java, cSharp, and C++, etc.; a majority of developers need abstracted tools to do projects needed by the business on a moment to moment basis.
I remember many years ago when I spoke at a conference of developers. I told them (I think this was in the early 1990s) that whatever tools they were using would be obsolete in a few years. These guys were outraged. They did not believe me.
I think that the reality is that organizations need to use emerging development environments that offer innovation, ease of use, and sophistication that is out of reach with traditional programming languages. It is best if these emerging Web 2.0 tools can generate standard programming code (although I am skeptical that the code will represent the nuances that these tools provide). The reality is that IT organizations should understand that fads and tools will come and go. Change is a reality. Here’s a radical idea — how about retiring old code before it becomes a burden to the business.