Build 2016 - Day 2: Walking out of the wilderness

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." - Lao Tzu
 
Today’s Build keynote felt a bit like the final steps of a thousand mile journey for Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group Scott Guthrie, if not the larger Microsoft. It’s been a multi-year journey, forging a cross-platform, cross-language and open source culture at Microsoft, and it was by no means a sure bet. Let’s review some of the history:
 
  • If you can’t beat cancer, join it. Steve Ballmer’s 2001 statement that “Linux is a cancer” is an almost mythic meme 15 years later. But it clearly articulates the corporate attitude of Microsoft toward open source at that time. Old attitudes (and cultures) die hard. That’s why yesterday’s announcement of Bash support in Windows was not just good for cross-platform developers, but symbolic of the now firmly rooted cultural transformation at work in Nadella’s Microsoft. We noted it years ago, but it’s pretty clear that the change is sticking.
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Build 2016 - Day 1: Windows without windows

The big number at this year’s Build: 270 Million. That’s the number of copies of Windows 10 that consumers and enterprises have purchased or upgraded to since Microsoft’s latest flagship launched last year. And the message that Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices group Terry Meyerson sent to developers at the Build conference was that Windows is very much alive and well, and that it’s a great platform for them to build on (pun intended).
 
But there’s another not so obvious theme in Microsoft’s messages to developers at Build. Satya Nadella painted a picture of the longer term future of operating systems in general and Windows in particular: The decomposition of monolithic OSes that served consumers well when our digital interactions were confined to one or two devices. As devices multiply and input/output mechanisms broaden, it can’t help but affect the underlying services that operating systems have traditionally provided, especially as entirely new categories of connected devices emerge. Here’s how:
 
  • Cortona is ready for deep developer integration. In my opinion, the biggest change at Build is the emergence of natural language processing as a first class input/output mechanism for. Conversations as a platform (CaaP) takes the power of human language and applies it to digital interactions. Microsoft’s CaaP framework layers in context about people, places and things to enrich the conversations. With CaaP, human language joins window chrome and widgets as a core UI element. And developers can now layer in their own extensions to Cortana via “bots”. 
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Xamarin Acquisition Amplifies Microsoft's Comprehensive Mobile Development Strategy

Today Microsoft announced that it is acquiring Xamarin. Terms were not disclosed. Our lead mobile app dev analyst Mike Facemire was on a plane somewhere near Buffalo at the time of the announcement, so I've posted the team's combined thoughts here. Our take: This move makes Microsoft a must-consider option throughout the stack when it comes to mobile development. For those not familiar with Xamarin, here’s what Microsoft is getting:

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Do Developers Need a Hippocratic Oath?

"I will utterly reject harm and mischief."

These words, taken from the Hippocratic oath, are ones that I think application development and delivery professionals should consider carefully as we watch the latest example of "Software eating the world" gone wrong. In this case the software algorithms in the "defeat device" that Bosch created for VW defeated emissions testing for millions of diesel cars. Now, 7 years later, VW is setting aside $7.3 billion to remediate the result. But this is just the latest example of developer complicity in creating algorithms of questionable quality. Consider:

  • Facebook's manipulation of users' news feeds. In 2014 Facebook revealed that it had manipulated the news feeds of over half a million randomly selected users to change the number of positive and negative posts they saw. It was part of a psychological study to examine how emotions can be spread on social media.
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Consumer Engagement Is Shifting Toward Micro Moments

Happy iPhone 6 day. If you're reading this you're proabably not standing in line hoping to get your hands on Apple's latest devices. My colleague Mike Facemire drove past the local Apple store in Back Bay last night at 1 A.M. on the way home from Logan airport and described the scene as "nuts". The line was completely around the block, in 40 degree weather no less.

Developers should pay attention, as there's more going on here than hipsters queuing for the latest shiny. Today Mike, Julie Ask, and yours truly published a research note for eBusiness professionals detailing the top ten ways to leverage Apple’s new tech. Central to our argument is that iOS 8 takes many steps to break down the barriers between custom 3rd party apps and Apple's mobile platform. Mobile developers used to be constrained to their own secure, sand-boxed containers with minimal access to sensors on the device and local storage, but separated from other custom apps. As a result, we saw development teams gradually move toward "least common denomiator" apps that saved money by using a common code base.

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Make Hackathons a Win-Win

Occasionally I like to yield my "bully pulpit" to folks on our team that I collaborate with on joint research projects - and today is just such an occasion. Over the past few months I've been working on research with Vivian Brown on the in's and out's of public and private hackathons. It was interesting when we started this research - we got more than a few puzzled looks and questions like "why would developers want to spend their own personal time writing code?" and "hackathons might be great for start-ups and Valley companies, but will they play in Peoria?".  My own personal response to these questions was to refer folks back to a stream of research I wrote in 2010 on building high-performance development teams. In my opinion a well-run hackathon is the developer equivalent of a musicians' jam session. At their core the best developers are makers - creatives who are intrinsically motivated to create and get a charge out of learning something new or building out someone else's inspiration. It's one expression of a building wave of "Social Development" that is changing the way development works, and how firms relate to developers and vice versa.

But enough rambling. I'll turn things over to Viv. Right before Thanksgiving, Salesforce hosted a well publicized "Million Dollar Hackathon" - and the results were a bit mixed. Viv's thoughts on it below:

Make Hackathons a Win-Win

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Mobile Platform Priorities Show Divided Developer Loyalties

Ok, confession time: Those who know me well know my upbringing holds a deep dark secret. Yes, I was born in West Virginia, and grew up in Kentucky. Yes, my dad worked in the coal mines (OK, he was an electrical engineer, and only went down below once every couple of weeks . . .). On finding out my origin story, my college roommates took to calling me “hick” (I think they still do when I go back for reunions). I gotta say, it still amazes me how quickly y’all zips right back into my patois when I’m around like-minded individuals. But I gotta tell ya, there’s a lot to like about where I grew up: horses, bourbon, and basketball come to mind. And then there are the feuds and rivalries: UK versus IU (we don’t acknowledge Louisville); Maker’s Mark versus Jack Daniel’s; Hatfields versus McCoys. Where I grew up, we don’t mind a good brawl every now and then . . .

And that’s exactly what I’m seeing in our 2013 Forrsights Developer Survey when it comes to how developers prioritize the mobile platforms they develop for. In the survey, we asked all developers about the types of application development technologies they’ve worked with in the past 24 months. Of the 1,611 North American and European developers we surveyed, 478 (just under 30%) indicated that they had worked with mobile apps or mobile web sites. We then asked those developers a variety of questions about how they are using mobile technologies. One question we asked them was how they prioritized their development efforts across different form factors and operating systems (see Figure 1). The overall data is interesting, but so is the data inside the top-line stats:

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Forget IaaS vs. PaaS: Devs Adopting Cloud Services Now

I get a lot of questions about the best way for developers to move to the cloud. That’s a good thing, because trying to forklift your existing applications as is isn’t a recipe for success. Building elastic applications requires a focus on statelessness, atomicity, idempotence, and parallelism — qualities that are not often built into traditional “scale-up” applications. But I also get questions that I think are a bit beside the point, like “Which is better: infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS)?” My answer: "It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, your teams’ skills, and how you like to consume software from ISVs.” That first question is often followed up by a second: “Who’s the leader in the public cloud space?” It’s like asking, “Who's the leading car maker?” There’s a volume answer and there’s a performance answer. It’s one answer if you like pickups, and it’s a different answer if you want an EV. You have to look at your individual needs and match the capabilities of the car and its “ilities” to those needs. That’s how I think we’re starting to see developer adoption of cloud services evolve, based around the capabilities of individual services — not the *aaS taxonomy that we pundits and vendors apply to what’s out there. This approach to service-based adoption is reflected in data from our Forrsights Developer Survey, Q1 2013, so I've chosen publish some of it today to illustrate the adoption differences we see from service to service. 

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Developer Landscape 2013: North America And Europe

During the summer, it seems that I spend almost every Saturday mowing the yard. I’m using a self-propelled walk-behind these days, so it takes a good 2 hours to get the whole thing done. The best part is always that feeling when you cut the last swatch of long grass and know it’s time for a nice glass of iced tea or a hefeweizen on the deck. But the good feeling is more than just about being done; it’s as much about completing a good job and being able to look back and survey the results of your labors.

That feeling of satisfaction is the same one I get when a complex and comprehensive research report I’ve written goes web live on our site. In this case, it’s a document that was more than three years in the planning and six months in the execution. If you’re a Forrester client, I hope you’ll find the Developer Landscape 2013 that Vivian Brown and I co-authored illuminating. It’s my first report that extracts some of the more interesting trends we found in our 2013 Forrsights Developer Survey (although James Staten has also tapped the data already here). While I’ve fielded developer surveys before, this one is different — it represents an organic comittment from Forrester Research to a deeper quantitative examination of who developers are; what tools, processes, and technologies they are adopting and using; and what their attitudes and aspirations are. Here’s why you should care:

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Intel’s Acquisition Of Mashery Nets It Public API Smarts, Developers, And More...

Co-authored with Eve Maler

Yesterday Intel set off of a flurry of tweets and news stories when it announced it had acquired Mashery. For those who aren’t familiar with Mashery, it is one of the earliest (and largest) vendors in the emerging API management space. Companies use API management platforms to secure and expose their APIs for public consumption. They are an important part of establishing a corporate platform and building a developer ecosystem around your business processes.

Intel’s acquisition really didn’t surprise us; the company already had an existing investment in working with Mashery, and was reselling it along with the Intel Expressway Service Gateway. The current integration featured Mashery front-ending the integration as a developer portal and for provisioning of developer licenses, while the Intel Expressway Service Gateway handled the operational aspect of API traffic routing and access management. We expect an immediate tightening of the existing integration, and for Intel sales reps to expand their pitch to offer API management capabilities in the cloud — a capability that was more difficult with Intel’s current product (which is delivered as a hardware-based appliance or a virtual appliance).

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