5 Pioneering Paths for Software Development's New Frontier

Size (and mobility) matters. As desktop PCs lose ground to tablets and smartphones, and the cloud becomes a more mainstream means for software deployment, desktop applications are being elbowed aside by mobile apps and Web services, resulting in a significant shift in the way software is created.

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Powers described experiences in his work that shed further light on this. Applico competitors lured clients away from Applico, offering to build apps with HTML5 at half the cost Applico quoted. "Eight months later, those clients would come back to us and say, 'We made the wrong decision; we went with someone that promised us the world and didn't really understand the limitations of the technologies.'"

Last year, Hung LeHong and Jackie Fenn, both of Gartner, placed HTML5 at the "peak of inflated expectations" on Gartner's annual Hype Cycle Report, estimating it would be five to 10 years before the real plateau for the standard could be reached. Yet many developers are embracing HTML5 and find Gartner's analysis to be way off-base.

Kendo UI, a division of Telerik, performed its own studies and found that 82 percent of developers "find HTML5 important to their job within the next 12 months," with 31 percent planning to use it and 63 percent actively developing in it.

That said, the phrasing of these questions doesn't speak to developer preferences, only to what developers are doing -- that is, building HTML5 apps because it's part of their job description. What's more, another survey sponsored by Appcelerator and IDC for 2012 found that most of the mobile developers surveyed were "neutral to dissatisfied with HTML5" in several categories, including performance (72.4 percent of those surveyed), fragmentation (75.4 percent), and user experience (62 percent). This is striking in light of how an earlier survey by the same group asked developers, "Do you plan to integrate HTML5 as a component into the mobile apps you plan to build in 2012?" -- to which 79 percent answered yes.

Todd Anglin, vice president for HTML5 Web and mobile Tools at Telerik, questioned this conclusion, and not just because of the rapid development of HTML5 on all sides: "Developers should note that the new 'native' Facebook apps still include HTML5 in sections where Facebook wants the ability to change things more quickly," Anglin wrote, referencing the much discussed shift Facebook undertook in 2012 to native mobile apps due to shortcomings it experienced with HTML5.

In short, for now HTML5 may be best thought of as merely one ingredient in an application's overall composition, rather than the way to create an app.

Conclusions

With so much software produced now aimed at a mobile or service-oriented market, development techniques are evolving to suit. Desktop programs that went for years between major revisions are being supplanted by mobile apps that are point-revved every few months or by services that are revved continually behind the scenes.

The demands those changes make are major, but they've also spurred numerous creative new solutions, including new use cases for traditional tools and the cloud as a development and testing platform, rather than just a software delivery mechanism.

The increasing speed of development (and developer feedback) means new technologies -- witness HTML5 -- are getting field-tested and absorbed into the mix more quickly, hastening the pace of relevancy.

As always, though, application development isn't about a particular paradigm, tool, or methodology -- it's about what works, here and now.

This story, "5 Pioneering Paths for Software Development's New Frontier" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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