A dozen of 2008 predictions

The year of 2007 was a good one. The IT job market was stable. The mankind got an iPhone. While there were no any revolutionary changes in the ways software was developed, I believe that this was a year of rich Internet applications and Web 2.0. Youtube became a part of life of millions of people around the world. A large portion of the population visits use myface and facebook daily. What’s next? What language/tool/technique to learn? What’s the next big thing in IT? In my opinion…

1. Java will remain strong in large enterprises, but will it’ll continue losing grounds as a development platform for small businesses. J2EE is way too heavy, and scripting languages and frameworks offer an alternative and productive way of software development when cost of development is more important than performance and scalability. LAMP platform will remain a preferable way to develop applications for small to medium businesses.

2. AJAX popularity may go downhill. Since the first day this acronym was created I’ve been writing that it’ not a good choice for developing enterprise applications. But the vast majority of software world was (and still is) marching the AJAX way. This time it’s more of a hope than a prediction that in 2008 people will realize that AJAX should serve the same goal as JavaScript – making your Web pages a little prettier. Expect to see re-branding of some of the AJAX frameworks into RIA or Web 2.0 solutions.

3. Speaking of Web 2.0… Even though Web 2.0 was not officially defined, I think it’s all about giving more control to the users of the Web sites. The more interactive is a Web site, the higher number people will put in front of the zero – 3.0, 4.0 and so on. Some people say that Web 3.0 is about semantic Web. If you bought a grill on Amazon.com they can guess with a high probability that you might be shopping for rib eye steaks. Let’s show it to you next time you visit the site. It’s all about control. From the user’s side and from the vendor’s site. We’ll see more and more interactive sites next years. While some people are planning to write a next generation sophisticated software, others will come up with a very simple, easy to implement but appealing business idea, and the next 20-year billionaire is born.

4. Flash Player. It will remain the best deployment platform for rich Internet applications. While Microsoft is trying to come up with a competitive delivering platform for RIA, it’s not going to happen in 2008. Silverlight 1.0 is a good start, the next version (1.1) will be even better, but it’ll take time to release a product that can do more than streaming multimedia.

5. Ruby on Rails will take a small share of the market of small non-mission Web applications. Convention over configuration. Speed of development over performance. While Ruby on Rails will not become a framework of choice, it has achieved a very positive result – people started to realize that not every project has to be developed in either Java or .Net. Besides, RoR is a well designed framework that will become a good design sample for the new frameworks of the future.

6. Internet video. This will be booming and I’m not talking about youtube. The Internet Video will start being a part of a number of enterprise applications. This process won’t be fast, and you have an opportunity to be among the early adopters in this sector.

7. Outsourcing will be gaining more and more grounds despite the fact that it’s very expensive and the project failure rate is high. The reason is that the USA almost stopped producing software engineers. It’s just the matter of time for everyone to get used to the fact that business software is made in India just like we all know that all toys (with or without lead) are made in China. But innovation in software will still be happening in America. I guess, there’s something in the air here. Re-read an old but valid article by Paul Graham about why the Silicon Valley can’t be exported.

8. Apple. Next year I’ll finally purchase a MacBook Pro for myself… if my Sony Vaio will die. Even if it won’t die, having a two year old machine is a good excuse for submitting a purchase order to my wife for an approval. Peer pressure, cool design and ability to run Windows (plan B), will force me to ignore the high price.

9. Adobe Flex and AIR. Flex will become the #1 tool for developing enterprise rich Internet application, and I’ll be seeing less that 10% of the raised hands when asking an audience, “Raise your hand if you dor not know what Flex is?” Adobe AIR’s adoption will be slow though. Or course, the shops that are already sold on Flex will use it, and some AJAX developers will realize that it may become a life saver for their applications, but that’s about it. While being a well designed and very promising technology (Flex, Flash Player, HTML, JavaScript, PDF, SQLLite DBMS, an ability to work in a disconnected mode, and full access to your PC’s resources), it may be perceived as yet another Web browser, which is a tough sell in the enterprises. At least, become an early adopter. I will.

10. Telephony. If 2007 was a year of Skype, we’ll see some interesting development in this area. Skype is a great product, but it requires you to download and install software. In the era of RIA things can be done without it. Watch the Ribbit phone software that will allow you to make calls and receive emails just from your Web browser.

11. IT job market in the USA. While we’ve enjoyed a stable demand in the IT professionals in 2007, it won’t last and next year we’ll see project freezes and even layoffs. The reason is the burst of the real estate bubble. And this will affect not only those simple people who were brainwashed and decided that they could have afforded an American dream. CEOs of the major Wall Street corporation are being fired after drowning their companies by getting into bad mortgage debt. Among other things, the IT budget will be severely cut. And as you know, today’s on Wall Street, tomorrow’s on Main street. Use the training budget of your employer now if it’s not too late. Keep your skills up to date.

12. The hottest IT skills of 2008. When the job market is tight, recruiters immediately increase the list of skill requirements for job opennings. You’ll see job posting that expect you to know a number of programming languages ranging from Cobol to C++. Knowing just one hot tool does not cut it anymore. But if you have limited time and need money, start with investing in learning tools for developing rich Internet applications. A skill set -of a high-paid Web developer at a minimum has to include the following skills:
HTML,CSS, JavaScript, J2EE or.NET, Flex or Silverlight, AJAX, and good communication skills. You do not have to really learn AJAX, but must add AJAX keyword to your resume, otherwise you may not even get a job interview.

13. The next big thing. The in software development will change to wider use of code generators. Forget about heavy frameworks regardless of what programming language you use. In a simple case, use some XML style sheets combined with the metadata that describe your application objects to automatically generate the code for these objects. On the larger scale, the entire application may be described using metadata and the XML, and an appropriate code generator will do the job. So programming will change from writing a tedious code that requires lots of coders to describing the metadata and writing custom code generators.

Happy New Year!

Yakov Fain

3 thoughts on “A dozen of 2008 predictions

  1. Yakov,

    I would like to hear your opinion about the following items:

    1. Java. Java 7 is scheduled to be released in 2008. Will Sun manage to create a milestone release, or this will be “next extension to Java 5″?
    9. Adobe Flex & AIR. What is your opinion — will it be (still) the year of Flex 2 or the year of Flex 3 (at last)?
    7. Outsourcing. You didn’t mention China, and there is a growing trend to prefer China over India due to extremely low rates of former.
    12. Hottest IT skills. The best skill is the ability to learn and to learn quickly. The best skill ever, not only for 2008. All the rest is just “the most popular tags for CV as of ”
    13. The next big thing. Well, I guess you are kidding. There are a lot of developers who _use_ code generators, but there is only a small fraction of IT engineers who _create_ custom code generators / domain-specific languages / metadata processing tools. Such situation exists for ages and it’s unlikely to change next year — the majority will keep following the motto “we’ve never tried it, but we know it’s very complex” in regard to code-generation.
    “Codegenartion for masses”… “Nuclear weapon for masses”… No, it sounds unreal.

    14. [Not a prediction, but rather a dream] SP1 for Windows Vista that fixes all the hassles :) MS-Santa, are you listening?


  2. VS,

    1. Java 7 – I expect at least a couple of important changes: Consumer JRE and Kernel Java.
    9. Year of Flex is too pretentious. Flex is not as big as one might think. But I\’m sure that Flex skills will be one of the hottest skills to have in 2008.
    12. I\’m writing about the USA market. An ability to learn quickly is not something tangible and easily verifiable. During the job interview I have just 30 min to assess your technical skills, and your abilities to learn is not something that I can test. This ability is more important in retaining the job but not in getting it. If you have something elso to show on your CV, do not waste a line on this phrase.

    7. I did not mention many other outsourcing countries too – Romania, Brazil, Philippines, Belarus, etc. Cheap labor from China does not scare me. There is so many other things to consider while selecting your offshore partners. I receive emails almost daily from China and other countries offering programmers at $10USD and hour. These emails go straight into the trash folder.

    13. The situation won\’t change next year, but it may start changing. I never stated that code generators are for masses. But its certainly is for decent programmers. Take a look at the hamachi project.

    14. I\’ve erased Vista and put XP back on my laptop 5 months ago and have no time or intentions to try it again unless there is a really serious reason to do so. One of my respected colleagues is currently testing usability of Mac OS and Apple hardware, and if he likes it, I\’ll switch too next year.

  3. Hi,
    I also hope AJAX popularity may go downhill. I’ve written several posts on my blog trying to explain why AJAX can’t represent a solution to develop rich client applications.

    AJAX is not a new technology but the coupling of old and established technologies (HTML, JavaScript, XML, HTTP) which were created to deliver information over the web.

    We can force those technologies to act as a web application framework but to me time has come to apply the proper technologies to solve problems even if some of those technologies are not open source.

    Regards, Alessandro

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