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zafriedman 567 days ago | link | parent

In the past few weeks, I don't know why, but I took a prominent note of how easy application development has become. The fact is that someone probably could learn how to write a web application in Ruby on Rails in three months without much hinderance. Production quality, probably not, but a REST API persisting to a database and implementing some business logic, absolutely.

It scares me a little (a really little) in that this trend is ostensibly a precursor, or leading indicator if you will, to the increasing commoditization of our profession. But here is the thing. There are steps that we can actively take to mitigate the complacency that recent technology has afforded to us. This is likely where I agree with the author the most. If your skill set is narrower than you wish it to be, engage problems in a different domain, and acquire the knowledge to do so beforehand. Meanwhile, if you're one of the people, like me, who feel beyond fortunate to wake up everyday doing something that you love, then continue to do that, stay hungry to learn new things all the time, and hope that that will be enough. That's pretty much all you can do.



TuringTest 566 days ago | link

Am I the only one that sees commoditization of programming as a good thing? I long for a world where everybody could define simple-to-moderately-complex automated behaviors, without needing to pursue a career in programming.

Tools like Apple's Automator or Android's Locale provide low barriers to scripting for the masses, but they fall short of providing a good, easy to use abstraction mechanism; in the end they amount to classic imperative languages, which are difficult to master.

On the other hand we have the Spreadsheet, the only widely successful End-User-Development tool, ever. This one provides a really good for building abstract data models and workflows - I've seen it used by people without any programming understanding to develop complete form-like applications, collaboration tools and storage repositories. Unfortunately, using those required a lot of repetitive actions. The spreadsheet model does provide a good abstraction mechanism but does not support automation capabilities; you still need a classic scripting language to automate behaviors.

I hope the recent live programming fad initiated by Bret Victor's "Inventing on Principle" will finally produce widely used reactive environments; those are a good basis for non-programmers to begin programming without a steep learning curve and only up to the point that they really need.

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