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Software in 2014

By Steve Jones,

What's the state of software in 2014? Here's one set of thoughts from Tim Bray. He works for Google, and understandably has a bit of a slant towards the Google view of the world. Or maybe that's his view and that's why he works at Google. I am never quite sure how many people choose jobs or employers that fit them and how many get sucked into thinking a certain way because they fell into the job.

In any case, I think that the state of software in 2014 hasn't dramatically changed from the last decade. We've seen a push towards the idea of "apps" in mobile/tablet spaces, and now that's coming into the desktop/laptop space as well. Even Google, with the Chromebooks and apps in their own browser store, has been pushing the idea of a store with a curated distribution of software. However I think it's still a fad, with most people preferring desktop versions, or browser based versions, of the software they need. As users mature and become more savvy, I do think the distinction between how we get our software matters less and less.

Are we writing better software? I see lots more experimentation, which is good. Some people love Javascript, I mean really love it. Others hate it, as Mr. Bray does. Flash seems to be fading, along the same way that Cold Fusion, Foxpro, and VB6 have gone away. I rarely hear about Java these days, though it seems that C, C++, Java, and Obj-C are still very popular. They don't seem to have the media attention or excitement that I hear about with Python and Ruby, but there are lots of people still using them.

Interestingly enough, T-SQL is one of the most popular languages. That's good for us, though I suspect if we included PL/SQL and other variants, SQL might be one of the most used languages. It seems like most developers need to use some SQL, though surprisingly most don't work on those skills. As Mr. Bray mentioned, I do think that relational databases are here to stay. They work well, and they will continue to be used, but we'll also see other types of databases being incorporated more and more into applications. If for no other reasons than because developers get excited by them and want to try out new ideas.

I can appreciate the view from a programmer used to having the power of thousands (or tens of thousands) of machines available that mobile hardware sucks. In comparison to what we have in a laptop, yes. However the ability to play a game, or edit a spreadsheet, or work with a visualization while walking down the sidewalk is stunning. We've just started to scratch the value of mobile, and while there are constraints (not to mention extra work to get your software onto all platforms), it's also stunning to see how much computing can happen in the palm of my hand. I predict mobile is still exploding from its Big Bang. It's up to technologists to work on solutions to the constraints in mobile, not complain about the frustrations of building software for mobile devices.

I think software is continuing to evolve and change, and while it hasn't changed dramatically (to me) in the last few years, it's still one of the more exciting industries to be a part of.

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