The Future of Application Development

Top experts shared their predictions with Computerworld for the new world of application development, including a focus on business process delivery and agile development.

The focus of application developers will shift from programming to modeling with models interpreted or compiled for execution. The models will provide a higher level of abstraction, enabling a focus on the enterprise instead of the technology. Models will support different viewpoints for specialization, simulation and collaboration that includes business people. Modeling will extend to integrated models of the enterprise that provide the conceptual framework for understanding, monitoring and directing the operation of the enterprise. Task-level applications will be discrete services in a distributed, service-oriented architecture, orchestrated by automated business processes. In short, application developers will become business modelers. -- Fred Cummins, a fellow at Electronic Data Systems Corp., Farmington Hills, Mich.

As IT learns to focus on end-to-end processes rather than functional stovepipes, application development turns into business process delivery. IT collaborates with the business to design improved business processes, capturing the process in metadata that drives the design and operation of composite applications. Composites pull together SOA-based business services and modular user interfaces to meet the specific needs and workflow of each business process, giving users integrated, contextual, multichannel access to transactions, content, collaboration, and communications. Business intelligences closes the loop, using process metadata to report process metrics, driving analysis for the next round of business process improvement. -- Randy Heffner, analyst, Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Mass.

SOA continues through its adoption curve; as with past cycles, decision-makers will be enthralled by the promise while not being adequately informed of the peril. Through experience, advances and benefits will be realized -- though at a price. Realization dawns that the same architectural principles that were advocated over the past 30 years are still required for success -- the difference being that the initial technologies have evolved to the point where we are better positioned to deliver on these promises. The real question is, Can IT and application development organizations evolve to take advantage? -- David Moore, director of North American branch operations services, Keane Inc., Boston

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