|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.
|David Ryan 08/12/05 07:48:08 PM EDT|
Nice article. I've linked to some articles which you might find interesting. It includes a paper I prepared on creating evolvable programming languages encoded in a binary format called Argot. The language is still in early development, but I strongly believe that solutions similar to it is where future languages need to move.
|grumpynerd 08/11/05 02:10:24 PM EDT|
I won't discount the importance of Ajax and "RIAs" as a deployment model -- even as a kind of domain within in which system architectures could be grouped. But these aren't new programming models. We use the same old programming models to build new kinds of apps.
Examples of Programming Models:
|Mark Kroehler 08/11/05 02:08:19 PM EDT|
RIA (Rich Internet Applications) is a marketing term Macromedia (Flash, Cold Fusion) conjured up as a way to get people looking at their development products. Even googling on the term only points you back to one vendor. Not exactly what I would call a model...
|boatboy 08/11/05 08:59:41 AM EDT|
Avalon != Ajax. Avalon will be a system for declaratively defining a rich ui. The design will presumably allow for what is called a RIA here, but isn't limited to that. More analogous is Microsoft's 'Atlas' - which will probably be released much sooner, and be more cross-platform.
|swamii 08/11/05 08:22:11 AM EDT|
>>> Microsoft will try to catch up to with
Late != unsuccessful. It matters little when Microsoft controls the browser and the operating system. They could start deploying RIAs (Avalon web apps) tomorrow and have broad support for it in the browser and OS if they wanted.
One thing's for sure: I have yet to see a web UI framework look as good as Avalon web apps. Aeroglass over the web looks great. I wonder how well it will be accepted by the public.
|owlstead 08/11/05 08:19:02 AM EDT|
Better runtime environments and IDE's will be more important than any programming language. The way Java or .NET handle components should be an eye opener. What you want is code you can control, what does what you expect it to do.
On the runtime part:
On the IDE part:
I see a mayor shift towards runtime technologies coming up ahead. I can see more flexibility coming up in how programs are run and objects are used. Compilers are already running in the background to use Java both as script and as compile time language, for instance. Java may be to strict on some issues however.
For programs, components, OO and the imperative model will probably be here to stay. Other languages will be used for their respective domains, but the language wars seem to be over for now (as each programming language looks more and more like its siblings). Lets focus on the runtime and supportive technologies. And getting the things running reliably, for crying out loud.
I don't think using multiple languages that try to accomplish the same thing is such a good idea (see .NET C++, C#, VB7 and J#). You end up learning all of them (see MSDN). Mixing with languages that use other programming paradigms could be usefull though.
|gravyface 08/11/05 08:17:43 AM EDT|
ColdFusion got it right a long time ago. Sure, its a commercial platform, but being able to leverage C/C++, Java, and .NET and of course AJAX and Flash through simple, tag-based markup, really speeds things up. It can run on any major platform too.
|Jean-Luc Fontaine 08/11/05 03:08:50 AM EDT|
I am amazed at the complexity level that you are writing about, when there has been thin clients (X Windows, ...) for a long time, and now NX which has the greatest of potentials. Investing in the network instead of redeveloping your applications is so much more efficient and cost effective!
|Jeremy Pereira 08/10/05 05:39:37 PM EDT|
Your web site truly sucks. I'm sure the story is great, but the audio multimedia which is on by default just makes me want to hit the back button straight away. All the animated adverts distract from the content too.
PS the e-mail address is a real one in spite of the gratuitously insulting user name :)
|Colonel Panic 08/10/05 05:18:08 PM EDT|
I guess when I think of 'models of programming' I think about things like Object Oriented or Functional programming categories. This article seems to confuse the idea of 'models of programming' with actual types of applications: desktop vs. Web apps or perhaps a fusion of the two. Now one could program either a desktop or web app (or an RIA) using either an Object-Oriented approach, declarative, functional or even a combination of them. Let's not confuse the application with the programming model (or perhaps programming metaphor would work here?)
If the question is what will the next model of programming be (beyond the current reigning Object Oriented model) then the answer could probably lie in the direction of Aspect Oriented Programming. RIA's may be implemented usian an AOP approach, but I don't think it's right to say that RIA's will be the new programming model. RIA's may be the new application model.
|Sv-Manowar 08/10/05 05:14:16 PM EDT|
The trend towards RIA's/webapps has traditionally been restricted to those in a database centric role, but with the increasing use of AJAX and the like, the webapp is pushing further into the desktop application space. Obviously the centralization and server-side nature of the applications helps deployment and maintainance, but developers are basically trading the platform of an operating system for the platform of a web browser, with all the intricacies and compatibility issues that follow both.
|ThinkTiM 08/10/05 04:48:50 PM EDT|
RIA is not a programming model. RIA is more of a type of architectural pattern...it is definately not a programming model like modular programming, object oriented programming, etc... Although I guess "programming model" could mean just about anything.
The author of the article should not have mixed something very specific ("framework") with something very general ("programming model").
|TeknoHog 08/10/05 04:46:34 PM EDT|
>>> What we need is a parallel programming
These have been around for ages, but mainly for scientific computing. For example Fortran 90 and later versions, but there are also variants of C++ and others. Usually they take advantage of obvious parallelity in the data, for example matrix multiplication, and make the processors handle the separate bits without bothering the programmer with threads etc. It's also the kind of computation that takes place in graphics cards with their multiple pipelines.
I don't see any easy way to do the same for general programming. For example, separate threads for user interface and the actual processing is a good idea, but a very high-level one, not the kind of thing that would be done automatically by a compiler.
I hope that the existing parallel programming languages would be more widely used for the computationally intensive parts. It seems so silly that home computers have focused on pushing single processor performance for all this time, while 'real computer science' has been reaping the benefits of parallel processing for years.
|lheal 08/10/05 04:44:56 PM EDT|
I'm pretty sure it will never be the rage, but I like Programming Language Oriented Programming for difficult problems that don't seem doable in C/++ or something similar.
Most programs can be written practally in most languages, since all you really need is "if", "decrement" and "goto". Some problems aren't a good fit for a given language. That's why there's more than one.
Any program that breaks its problem into chunks is in effect creating its own mini-language. Whether you call it Abstact Data Typing or Object Orientation or Functional Programming or even Top Down Design, what it comes down to is dividing the problem into manageable chunks and working with those chunks until done.
I wish all CS students were taught from day one, or maybe day fifteen, how to create their own programming language. Usually you have to take a compilers course to get that.
Creating a new language is not that hard. It gets a bad rap because people think they have to write a backend for a given architecture, but writing the backend to generate C++ or some other HLL is just as good, since they've already done the heavy lifting and you can automate the compile train with your favorite maker.
|an0n 08/10/05 04:41:30 PM EDT|
The best programming models are the ones from the past, as usual. Lisp, Forth, these languages created a community of best-practices that we are all reinventing all over again.
Ruby on Rails is great, not because it's something NEW, but because it wraps up all these best practices with a friendly face.
Creating simple domain-specific languages is how talented programmers do things already, with powerful languages like Lisp. However languages like PHP, Python, Java, TOOK AWAY this ability because language designers thought it was "unnecessary" or "too complicated" for the average programmer.
Along comes Ruby, which gives you back some of that power. And a talented programmer took it and "did the right thing" by creating a tight domain-specific language. Now everybody is so excited. Great, whatever makes programs simpler and more expressive is fine by me.
But can we please stop talking about the "next" great thing, when hardly anybody remembers the great things from the past?
If there's any problem in this industry, it's that programmers have ZERO knowledge of fundamentals. Instead of standing on the shoulders of giants, they constantly re-invent wheels.
|moultano 08/10/05 04:21:50 PM EDT|
Functional programming is awesome, and I'm thoroughly convinced that it will take over just about everything its feasible for it to take over. There is nothing like the feeling of writing a program, having it type check, and not having to test it because you can look at the code and tell that it proves its own correctness.
|charlie 08/10/05 03:05:48 PM EDT|
The current generation of SOAs, based on W3C web standards, are client-server centric with a reliance on domain name based URLs. This fails for many obvious reasons.
The next gen solves this by working outside of the box and introducing a disruptive technology based on a new model that gives location independence, transport independence, and even application independence (ie., reuse existing GUI-based applications without need to retool).
|UE-boy 08/06/05 04:41:33 AM EDT|
>>>>rich Internet applications (RIAs) ... something Microsoft will try to catch up to with Avalon in Longhorn (now Windows Vista).
But they are 2 years behind surely? Vista can't become the de facto standard for desktop apps, it's too late. Flash 8 has stolen its thunder - Avalon as the new UI for Windows...I just don't believe it any more.
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it ...
Jul. 27, 2016 11:35 AM EDT Reads: 134
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Jul. 27, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 697
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Jul. 27, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,221
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
Jul. 27, 2016 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 448
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Jul. 27, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,067
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Jul. 27, 2016 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,360
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
Jul. 27, 2016 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,158
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
Jul. 27, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 463
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Jul. 27, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 940
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
Jul. 27, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,073
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verizon will acquire Yahoo's operating business for approximately $4.83 billion in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments. Yahoo informs, connects and entertains a global audience of more than 1 billion monthly active users** -- including 600 million monthly active mobile users*** through its search, communications and digital content products. Yahoo also co...
Jul. 27, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 602
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
Jul. 27, 2016 06:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,491
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Jul. 27, 2016 04:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,286
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Jul. 27, 2016 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,516
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
Jul. 27, 2016 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,572
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Jul. 27, 2016 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,613
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
Jul. 27, 2016 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,483
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Jul. 27, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,955
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
Jul. 26, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,027
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jul. 26, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,629