2014 Developer Opportunities and Challenges, Part I: Embedded, APIs, Mobile Systems and More

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Now that the confetti has settled, I thought it would be a good time to talk with industry mavens about what lies ahead in the coming year for developers, both the challenges and the opportunities.

Not surprisingly, many of the industry watchers I spoke to agreed that machine-to-machine learning (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT) offered enormous opportunities for developers to get into the embedded space. "Having the Java people get involved will make it easier for those not familiar with this space," said Michael Azoff, principal analyst at Ovum, "but [coding for] real-time systems is a skill and requires some domain expertise. It's not a pure software space, but demand will be huge for the skills."

Azoff also observed that 2014 will continue to see niche languages like Erlang, Scala, and Lisp finding a place in more developers' tool boxes, as Java continues its evolution with lambda expressions, which are coming in Java 8. The ability to add functional programming features to Java "could be the next big programming paradigm shift," he said. "It's the one to watch."

IDC analyst Al Hilwa sees 2014 as "the age of the API redesign." "We are entering the golden age of APIs," he said in an email. "API design becomes a mainstream developer discipline. Organizations re-design APIs to new realities of mobile networks and devices. API marketplaces proliferate. API management will be essential." He also said that, despite its growing popularity and maturity, HTML5 will not replace native mobile app development through 2017. Instead, HTML5 will co-exist with native development, he said. APIs that enable Web pages to use the WebSocket protocol will see increased use in mobile development, for example.

2014 is rife with buzzwords, but a few -- mobile, cloud, big data, and social -- comprise what Gartner Group calls a "nexus of forces." Each has a separate impact, explained Gartner analyst Mark Driver, but together they're causing profound changes. The challenge for developers lies in creating a synergistic relationship among these forces, he said.

"Building a mobile system for example isn't just about building a mobile system," he said. "It's about all the things you have to do to feed that system and integrate with it. You start asking questions like, How will a mobile system cause me to have to go back and undo all of my existing Web architectures that I've had in place for ten years? How does big data affect how I do these things? What new frameworks and best practices to I have to bring in to build truly cloud-native applications? It really is a challenging time for developers."

Mobile is somewhat central to that challenge, Driver said. "Mobile is now assumed to be an element of virtually any new project in the enterprise," he said, "which is about much more than simply shrinking a screen down to fit on a smart phone. It's not only a separate set of tools and languages, it's a different way of building applications, like the reactive programming model, for example, which involves architectures for systems that deliver highly responsive user experiences with a real-time feel -- architectures that are relatively new to a lot of enterprise developers."

Mobility is key component of in a list of strategies that have created a new "business reality" for developers, said Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. But 2014 could offer new leadership opportunities for developers as businesses acclimate to new mobile-first, cloud-first, and data-centric strategies. Developers, he said, are in a unique position to help move companies forward in ways that others in IT are struggling with.

"We're now adjusting to this new business reality," he said, "and software has never been more critical. Developers can advocate -- from their vantage -- on how best to define strategy and how to attain it. They could, for example, align with line of business managers on key business objectives and requirements, and then sell that together to the operations and IT leadership. They can, in effect, lead, thanks to disruption; they can put the horse firmly in front of the cart, where it belongs."

"So if developers or app dev groups can advocate now for what they believe is right to get to mobile-first using cloud-best to then produce and deliver the data and analysis where it does the most good," he added, "they will immensely help their company, while improving their credibility, standing and worth. They might even make it a better place to work at and thrive."

Posted by John K. Waters on 01/21/2014 at 11:53 AM0 comments


UPDATED: Our First Ever App Dev Trends Conference Set for December 2014

Update 3/4/13: We've rescheduled App Dev Trends 2014 to avoid conflicts. The conference will now take place December 8-11, 2014, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The new date allows us to extend the Call for Papers deadline to April 11. We've had a great response so far, and we're glad to be able to provide more time for speaker proposals, so please keep sending them in! -John

Maybe you've heard the rumors about a new technology conference focused on the makers and maintainers of the purpose-designed software that drives organizations in virtually every industry in the world -- in other words, the readers of Application Development Trends. I can now confirm those rumors.

Yup. We're finally putting on a show of our own.

App Dev Trends 2014, which is set to run Sept. 29-Oct. 3 at the Mirage Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, will throw a spotlight on the unique challenges faced by enterprise software professionals. This event is about cutting-edge intelligence on a wide range of trends, tools, and best practices that our readers gotta have to keep up with the ever-evolving demands of their organizations. It's about knowing what's next and preparing for it. It's about acquiring new skills and adapting existing skill sets. It's about boosting organizational efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. And it's about rubbing elbows with peers and pros facing the same challenges.

Also, there will be food. And drinks. And snacks.

This is our first ADTmag-branded conference, but the event is being organized by the experienced pros who put on the Visual Studio Live! and Live! 360 conferences. They're also the publishers of this site, our newsletters, as well as our sister pubs, Redmond magazine, Visual Studio Magazine, and more. So we're in good hands.

Today, we're issuing the official Call for Presentations (seems like there should be horns or something) for the following conference tracks:

  • Agile in the Enterprise: Best-Practices in the Real World
  • Enterprise Cloud Development: The Distributed Computing Challenge
  • Big Data: The Enterprise Taps a Gusher
  • Mobile: The Enterprise Game Changer
  • Beyond DevOps: A Whole-Enterprise Effort
  • M2M and the Internet-of-Things: The Enterprise Embedded
  • The Social Enterprise: New Workplace Connections

The Web site for submitting presentation proposals is up and running now, and the deadline for submissions is Feb. 21, 2014! That's just around the corner, so please submit your proposals soon. We're expecting a lot them, and I'm looking forward to reading every one.

Did I mention that I'm the conference chair? I'm pretty sure that means I have to bring the snacks.

Posted by John K. Waters on 01/08/2014 at 1:48 PM0 comments


IDC Study Counts the World's Developers: 11 Million Pros

Here's a question that vexes analysts and industry watchers: Exactly how many developers are there in the world? Apparently, codederos are a hard bunch to count. Leave it to the indefatigable Al Hilwa to get the job done -- well, Al and his fellow International Data Corporation (IDC) analysts.

IDC recently published its "2014 Worldwide Software Developer and ICT-Skilled Worker Estimates," and I got a peek at the report, which Hilwa authored. It's a country-by-country build-out of population estimates based on the analysis of granular occupation surveys and census data (where available), education enrollment and graduation data (where available), and other materials and correlations where those data were not available. It provides numbers for 90 countries and three world regions, including those you'd expect (U.S., China, India, Japan, Brazil, the U.K., Russia, Canada, etc.) and a few you might not (Nigeria, Qatar, Luxemborg, Jamaica, etc.) Together, these countries account for 97 percentof the world's GDP.

Sexy, right? Okay, maybe not, but this is information software and IT service providers could really use when it comes to things like resource allocation and investment decisions, which Hilwa "calls gating factors to addressable market calculations." (Come on, that's kinda sexy.)

One of the things I love about this 32-page report is that it counts professional coders and hobbyists. IDC defines "hobbyists" as coders building software in their spare time for their "personal entertainment," student developers, contributors to free and open-source software projects, and unfunded entrepreneurs. That group also includes part-timers putting in less than 10 hours a month and full-time knowledge workers called upon from time to time to write code for things like productivity apps.

IDC believes that there are approximately 18.5 million software developers in the world right now. Around 11 million of those are pros and 7.5 million are hobbyists. IDC also believes that there are 29 million ICT-skilled workers in the world, a number that includes pro devs and 18 million operations and management skilled workers.

Hilwa, who serves as program director in IDC's Application Development Software group (and who called this project "a labor of love"), says that he expects the overall number of developers and ICT-skilled workers to grow over the next couple of years, but thanks to the cloud and mobile trends, most of that growth will be within the developer population. He added that the "mobile revolution" is expected to boost the growth of the hobbyist developer population.

So, where are all these developers living? According to the report, 19 percent of the worldwide population of software developers (both pros and those coding for funzies) live in the U.S.; China has 10 percent ; and India has 9.8 percent . India has more pros than China, which has more hobbyists. Looking at the bigger picture, 36 percent of all software developers live in the Asia/Pacific region; 39 percent live in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; and 30 percent live in the Americas.

The full IDC report is available now to IDC clients.

Posted by John K. Waters on 01/06/2014 at 3:35 PM0 comments


Possible Game Changer: IBM's Open Source Watson Cloud Platform

When IBM announced its decision last month to turn its Watson cognitive computing technology into an open software development platform, complete with APIs and (Big Blue hopes) a partner ecosystem, the news didn't exactly set the world on fire, but maybe it should have.

News of Watson's victory in 2011 over two human contestants on the Jeopardy game show did spark a mainstream media blaze, albeit a brief one, rife with facile quips about IBM's "Frankenstein of trivia," and repeats of übercontestant Ken Jennings' comment: "I, for one, welcome our computer overlords."

But that was Watson the Machine, a system specifically designed to compete on the game show, comprised 90 IBM Power 750 servers, each running 8 POWER7 cores (3.5 GHz) with 4 threads per core. The OS was SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11; the software was written in Java, C++, and Prolog; and it used Apache's Hadoop and UIMA and IBM's DeepQA software. The resulting system was able to interpret queries in natural language and used statistical analysis, advanced analytics, and all that processing power to search millions of pages in seconds.

Now comes Watson the Platform -- or more precisely, the Watson Developer Cloud -- a cloud environment for the development of cognitive computing applications that use the big data and analytics capabilities that killed on Jeopardy. Developers will be able to embed a Watson capability into either an existing application or a new app. They'll access the cognitive computing mojo via the Watson Experience Manager, a portal app that provides access to a development sandbox. And each app will be defined on the Watson Developer Cloud by partners adding their own content from the Watson Content Store. The result will be apps labeled "Powered by IBM Watson."

For developers, the IBM Platform/Developer Cloud holds the promise of an entry ramp into the world of cognitive computing, which Big Blue reminds us often is likely to be new territory for most software makers. As IBM puts it, Watson brings to developers its ability "to help facilitate a dialogue, put content in context, maintain continuity of discussions, cull through millions of pages of data, return insights, identify patterns difficult to detect, and learn throughout the process." The ability to add these capabilities to applications "can truly be game-changing," the company says. And it's probably right.

IBM concedes that it will take an ecosystem for this ambition undertaking to succeed, and it's already forming strategic partnerships through the Watson Ecosystem Program. Among the first to sign up was Elance, provider of an online work marketplace. IBM has tapped Elance as its "inaugural talent partner," the company said in a statement, to build a Watson Talent Platform.

"Actually, we're the only talent partner," Elance CMO Rich Pearson told ADTmag.

Elance, which is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices in Oslo, Norway, matches businesses with freelancers online via a public "talent cloud" comprising about 3 million freelances in 170 countries. The system filled 1.2 million jobs this year, Pearson said.

Working with IBM, Elance developed a private talent cloud for the new Watson Ecosystem. The company's infrastructure, which tests skills and collects job performance data, will help to populate the ecosystem with top performers, Pearson said. The initial talent pool for Watson-enabled apps will likely include data scientists, mobile developers, and designers with experience in data visualization, he said. The company has partnered with Skilled Up to provide online courses for developers who want to ramp up their skillsets. Elance is also planning to apply Watson technology to its own business, Pearson said.

"We're in the business of matching talent and businesses," he said, "and we use our own algorithm for that process. The idea of using IBM Watson technology to improve that process is fascinating from our perspective. The Watson secret sauce is its ability to help with decision making, and we're looking at it as a way of providing richer data to help us make smarter and faster decisions."

IBM's nascent plan is still in the making, though the company has promised to start delivering on all of this in 2014. In the meantime, Watson and Watson-like technologies have already spread beyond that flashy game show debut, perhaps most notably to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The Center and IBM are working together to combine Watson's supercomputing powers with Sloan-Kettering's clinical know-how—along with "existing molecular and genomic data and vast repository of cancer case histories"—to create a diagnostic and treatment system based on updated research.

Keep an eye on the IBM Watson Web site (and this blog) for further developments.

Posted by John K. Waters on 12/17/2013 at 12:09 PM0 comments


BSIMM-V: Free Software Security Insights from 67 Companies

Here's a provocative statistic: Within a group of leading companies that includes Microsoft, PayPal, Salesforce, Nokia, Sony Mobile, and Visa, the average ratio of full-time software security specialists to developers is 1.4/100. That's one of the findings in the recently published fifth edition of the software-security "measuring stick" known as the BSIMM (Building Security In Maturity Model).

A "maturity model" describes the capability of an organization's processes in a range of areas, from software engineering to personnel management. The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is a well-known example from software engineering. The BSIMM (pronounced "bee-simm") is the first maturity model for security initiatives created entirely from real-world data.

The BSIMM was developed as a tool to help organizations evaluate their software security programs by comparing them to the programs of other companies. It's based on data collected by its authors through interviews and direct observations of the most successful large-scale software security programs. Although those programs use different methodologies and terminologies, they're described in a uniform way in the BSIMM via a framework, called the Software Security Framework, which provides a common vocabulary and allows for apples-to-apples comparisons.

So, is that ratio of software security pros to developers the right one? That's not a question the BSIMM was designed to answer, says one of its authors.

"The BSIMM is based on the study of real practices as they exist," explained Gary McGraw, CTO of security consulting firm Cigital and author of eight books on software security. "It describes those practices; it's not a prescriptive model. But it's real data, not hunches and guesses, so I can go to the board and say, here's you, and here are the other 26 firms that look like you that we've measured before. And I can say, it looks like you're the slowest zebra. And then we have a conversation about that."

BSIMM-V includes data from 67 participating companies, up from the 51 included in the fourth edition. The number of companies has grown every year since the first edition was published in 2008; that one was based on studies of nine software security initiatives. BSIMM-V describes the work of about 3,000 people, collectively, McGraw said.

As a measuring stick, the BSIMM allows an organization to compare and contrast its own software security efforts with those of its peers. As the report puts it, "You can then identify goals and objectives of your own and look to the BSIMM to determine which additional activities make sense for you."

BSIMM's authors argue that highly mature initiatives are well rounded, carrying out all of the 12 core practices described by the model, including: strategy and metrics, compliance and policy, architecture analysis, code review, security testing, penetration testing, and configuration management. The model also describes how mature software security initiatives evolve, change, and improve over time.

During the course of their investigation, the researchers have observed a total of 112 activities related to software security. These are actions carried out or facilitated by the software security group within an organization as part of a practice, and each activity is directly associated with an objective. The researchers added two new activities in the last edition of the BSIMM based on their observations in the field: simulate software crisis and automate malicious code detection. BSIMM-V adds another new activity: operate a bug bounty program.

Keep in mind that what the BSIMM is describing is security activities around software development, specifically. The computer security industry as a whole is growing fast, McGraw noted, at a rate of about 8.9% per year, generating between $20 and $40 billion in revenue annually. And while software security accounts for only 10% of that growth, he said, that segment is growing more than twice as fast: 20% per year, by some estimates. "I like to think of us finally as the pinky fingers on the two hands of computer security," McGraw said.

The BSIMM was originally developed by Cigital and Fortify Software (since acquired by HP). The two most recent editions of the study were authored by McGraw; Sammy Migues, Director of Knowledge Management and Training at Cigital, and Jacob West, CTO of Fortify Products in HP's  Enterprise Security group. The first three BSIMMs were authored by McGraw, Migues, and Brian Chess, distinguished technologist at HP (and co-founder and former chief scientist at Fortify).

BSIMM-V is available for download. It is distributed free under the Creative Commons license.

Posted on 12/12/2013 at 10:54 AM0 comments


Cascading: Open Source Java App Framework for Big Data

Enterprise interest in Big Data and associated analytics software has sparked intense interest in Apache Hadoop, the open source framework for running applications on large data clusters built on commodity hardware, and something of a flood of tools for developers working with it. But as an applications market emerges in this space, the next Big Thing for Big Data is likely to be app-oriented middleware.

That's an insight Tony Baer, principal analyst at Ovum, shared with me when I talked with him recently about Continuuity's recent Reactor 2.0 release, which the Java toolmaker billed as the first scale-out application server for Apache Hadoop.

"It is inevitable that applications will be developed that run against Big Data," Baer said, "and as that occurs, it will be necessary to have an application layer that allows developers with Java and other languages to develop apps that run against it."

Baer's prediction makes perfect sense, and it's one reason Java jocks might want to keep an eye on Concurrent, the company behind the open source Cascading project. Cascading is a Java application development framework for rich data analytics and data management apps running across "a variety of computing environments," with an emphasis on Hadoop and API compatible distributions.

"Big Data is moving to the next phase of maturity and it's all about the applications," the company says on its Web site. "The applications process the data and extract the value at scale and we believe that there must be a simple, reliable and consistent way to build, deploy, run and manage these data driven applications."

Great minds.

Concurrent characterizes Cascading as "a rich Java API for defining complex data flows and creating sophisticated data oriented frameworks," and it claims more than 110,000 user downloads a month. Its published user list includes Twitter, eBay, Square and Etsy, among others.

The San Francisco-based company recently announced Cascading 2.5 with new support for Hadoop 2 and YARN, the next-gen Hadoop data processing framework (sometimes called MapReduce 2.0).

Chris Wensel, Concurrent's founder and CTO, has argued that developing and building applications on Hadoop has proven to be difficult, despite the framework's rapid enterprise adoption. "With Hadoop 2, the community has addressed many concerns, paving a clearer path for enterprise users," he said in a statement. "At Concurrent, we're dedicated to forging a simpler path to mass Hadoop adoption by delivering a framework for building powerful and reliable data-oriented applications supporting data driven business models -- quickly and easily. Our support for Hadoop 2 was an easy decision, as we continue to be an integral part of the Hadoop and Big Data ecosystem, providing solutions that simplify application development and management for the enterprise."

As a Java-based framework, Cascading fits naturally into JVM-based languages, including Scala, Clojure, JRuby, Jython and Groovy. And the Cascading community has created scripting and query languages for many of these languages. The company's extensions page offers a growing list of user contributed code.

Cascading 2.5 is publicly available and freely licensable under the Apache 2.0 License Agreement.

Posted by John K. Waters on 12/04/2013 at 2:45 PM0 comments


Dreamforce 2013: Force.com Rebranding, HP Team Up

The annual Dreamforce conference finally reached street-blocking proportions this year, with a reported 120,000 attendees registering for Salesforce.com's biggest event, winding down this week at San Francisco's Moscone Center. (I remember when it barely took up an auditorium and a hotel hallway.) Attendance-wise, the 2013 edition of the event crushed this year's Oracle OpenWorld, which drew an estimated 60,000 to the same venue in September -- if those numbers are accurate. City officials are dubious, because the conference center can only hold about 60K. And yet, the Salesforce event sprawled beyond Moscone into nearby hotels, including the Palace on Market Street and the Intercontinental at Fifth and Howard. And a bunch of people attended online.

But who's counting?

The event's turnout probably says more about the rise of cloud computing than Salesforce itself. Although, to be fair, the San Francisco-based hosted CRM giant has been a significant driver of that rise. More important than attendee numbers. The company now claims nearly a million-and-a-half developers, which is double the number from a year ago. That's something everyone should be counting.

The company hopes to crank that number even higher with its newly announced Salesforce1 development platform. Launched at the Dreamforce show, Salesforce1 isn't just a massive rebranding of the company's Force.com dev platform, says IDC analyst Al Hilwa, but the launch of a major mobile effort into enterprise mobility.

"Salesforce has been working on this for some time and is now putting together a set of APIs to expose many aspects of the platform to developers," Hilwa told ADTmag. "The company is preparing for the big dive into the Internet of Things (IoT) the industry is expected to make. The mobile stack which connects to Salesforce has been completely updated to allow integration with the backend Salesforce platform.

Salesforce is billing the latest incarnation of its development platform as "the first CRM platform for developers, ISVs, end users, admins, and customers moving to the new social, mobile, and connected cloud." The platform was built "API-first," the company said, and comes with ten times more APIs and services. The company promised to make such ISVs as Dropbox, Evernote, Kenandy, and LinkedIn available on the platform.

The update of Force.com includes an update of its Visualforce component-based user interface framework to Visualforce1. As the company put it in a press release, "With Salesforce1, the more than 10 million Visualforce pages and custom actions are mobile-enabled."

"Enterprise mobility is happening today as companies are investing most of their new application development efforts on mobile related projects," Hilwa added. "IoT, however is still nascent and will be embraced first in the consumer space over the next two years."

Another notable piece of Dreamforce news was the announcement of a teamup between Salesforce and HP to create the "Salesforce Superpod," which is a dedicated instance of the Salesforce multi-tenant cloud running on HP's "converged infrastructure" technology, which manages equipment across an entire data center.

"This deal is noteworthy because of what it says about Salesforce and its strategy to reach higher up into the enterprise," Hilwa said. "Salesforce has determined that it is already extremely successful in the small to medium sector, but that there is still a lot of opportunity in the Global 1000 set. Large companies prefer to run dedicated computing environments, or even private clouds. The HP Salesforce deal brings this type of solution inside the Salesforce cloud. We are at the point now where Salesforce is letting go of multi-tenancy as the only defining criteria of its as-a-Service offerings."

BTW: Salesforce commissioned what has been reported to be the largest inflatable structure ever erected in North America to cloak Howard Street between the north and south wings of the Moscone Center. It was very cool.

Posted by John K. Waters on 11/21/2013 at 3:02 PM0 comments


Oracle Joins HSA Foundation To Help Java Devs with Heterogeneous Computing

Oracle wants to make it easier for Java developers to leverage the combined power of CPUs, graphics processing units (GPUs), field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and digital signal processors (DSPs) -- so-called heterogeneous computing -- and the database giant has thrown in with other organizations in an industry consortium to do it.

Oracle was among several industry leaders to announce plans to join the Heterogeneous System Architecture Foundation (HSAF) at this year's 2013 AMD Developer Summit. The not-for-profit consortium of system-on-a-chip vendors, OEMs, academics, ISVs and others is developing royalty-free specifications for system architectures that combine different kinds of processors. The foundation's goal is to make it easier to write code for these multi-breed systems, and to grow a heterogeneous compute ecosystem based on an industry standard.

Among other things, the Foundation is defining "key interfaces" for parallel computing with CPUs, GPUs, DSPs and other programmable and fixed function devices to create "the next foundation in general purpose computing," the group explains on its Web site. "Most importantly," the group says, "we are driving to bring greater developer productivity to heterogeneous computing by removing many of the barriers of traditional heterogeneous programing so they can focus on their algorithms and not managing system resources."

"Joining the HSA Foundation represents the next step towards bringing heterogeneous computing to millions of developers, as well as the introduction of new server and cloud programming paradigms," said Nandini Ramani, VP of development in Oracle's Java Platform group, in a statement. "Our work with the HSA Foundation will help provide Java developers with the ability to quickly leverage GPU acceleration, and explore how the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), as well as the Java language and APIs, might be enhanced to allow applications to take advantage of heterogeneous compute."

The HSAF is currently working on several standards projects: the HSA Platform Systems Architecture Specification version 1.0; an update of the HSA Programmer's Reference Manual: HSAIL Virtual ISA and Programming Model, Compiler Writer's Guide, and Object Format; the HSA System Runtime Specification  Draft Specification; and the HSA Tools project. The Foundation has published the AMD IOMMUv2 Architectural Specification and the first version of HSA Programmer's Reference Manual: HSAIL Virtual ISA and Programming Model, Compiler Writer's Guide, and Object Format

The Foundation is reaching out to a specific group of developers with its new Open Source Developer Program, also announced at the conference. With this program, the Foundation is aiming to drive developer productivity in heterogeneous computing environments. The idea is to free developers from the need to manage system resources in these environments (so they can focus on their algorithms) with core tools, runtimes, and simulators designed to allow coders to access HSA technologies. The program will also seek to provide documentation and tools designed to accelerate the development of apps on top of HSAF runtimes technologies, and just generally provide devs with a place to contribute to open source HSAF tools and runtimes.

No launch date has been announced for the Open Source Developer Program. A "coming soon" message is currently posted on the Web site.

Posted by John K. Waters on 11/20/2013 at 9:42 AM0 comments


HTML5 App Builder Updated with the Enterprise in Mind

How do enterprise developers extend their corporate apps to the ever expanding universe of mobile devices with the least amount of pain? Visual dev tool maker Sencha made the argument this week for the less-coding-is-more approach provided by Sencha Architect, the latest version of which the company just released.

Sencha Architect is a visual app builder designed to allow developers to create applications using the Redwood City, Calif.-company's enterprise-class frameworks: Sencha Touch, which is an HTML5 framework for building mobile applications, and Ext JS, which is a JavaScript framework for business-grade Web app development.

Sencha Architect 3, just announced this week, is part of a suite of solutions for developing "universal" apps from a single code base, explained Jeff Hartley, vice president of Sencha's products and services group. The visual app builder is designed, essentially, to provide best-practice code without requiring much in the way of actual coding.

"This release is about minimizing development complexity, while still allowing for plenty of extensibility to our frameworks and customization of the application," Harley told ADTmag. "It allows developers to focus more on user needs than the intricacies of coding user interface stuff, and reduces the potential for errors the goes with coding by hand."

Architect 3 comes with three new feature sets: Project Templates, User Extensions, and Theming and Styling. The new Templates feature gives developers access to a "gallery" of common templates and layouts for creating projects -- everything from introductory layouts for those new to the company's frameworks to fully fledged example applications. Projects created in Architect 3 can be saved as templates and shared via a personal template gallery.

"We've seen situations a lot in the wild," said Gil Gordon, Sencha's senior product manager, "where a guru type in an enterprise is the one driving the framework decisions, while others are coding the business logic and taking the designs from the designers and making them real in the product. We think Architect will help these folks to work together better when they can share Templates and use them as starting points."

There are about 18 Templates currently available in the gallery for each framework, Gordon said. The company plans to add more Templates in the future for different verticals.

The new User Extensions feature allow developers to customize the company's Sencha Touch and Sencha Ext JS frameworks. Architect 3 makes it easy to add extensions -- little bits of code packaged for reuse -- as first-class toolbox components, including both home-made extensions and extensions from the growing ecosystem of extensions built on Sencha frameworks.

Sencha's frameworks support CSS and come with a selection of canned themes. The new Theming and Styling capabilities in Architect 3 allows users to control CSS from directly within the tool to establish the appearance of an application.

Architect 3 is now a tool that can be used by both developers and designers, Harley added. "Everything they make is sharable with other people on their teams," he said. "This release is not just about individual developers, but about expanding its ability to help facilitate development within teams."

Sencha bills its Architect tool as "the ultimate HTML5 app builder," and really drives home the idea in this announcement that HTML5 is becoming the de facto standard in the enterprise for building Web and mobile applications.

"HTML5 has proven to be an ideal development language to tackle the fragmented world of multiple operating systems and browsers, and hundreds of mobile devices and desktops," said Michael Mullany, CEO of Sencha, in a statement. "Sencha Architect 3 empowers developers to create robust applications through a complete app-building experience, providing the kind of control, flexibility and ease of use that produces high quality apps faster."

Posted by John K. Waters on 11/14/2013 at 3:35 PM0 comments


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