Top 10 Application Development Stories of 2008

Cloud development platforms, mobile application development and the increasing acceptance of dynamic languages for Web development were among the top 10 stories in the world of software programming. With each passing year, software tools have become more sophisticated. While developers have more languages and tools to choose from than ever before.

1. Cloud development platforms bloom

Google App Engine, Microsoft Windows Azure, Amazon, and others have entered into the cloud space in force. What must developers do to program to the cloud?

2. Microsoft gets serious about software modeling

Microsoft releases its "Oslo" modeling strategy, joins the Object Modeling Group and pledges support for UML. Microsoft long held an indifferent if not hostile view of the Unified Modeling Language, but has now done an about face and is supporting modeling big time, and supporting UML in the Visual Studio 2010 toolset.

3. Mobile app development gets huge

Android, Windows Mobile, iPhone, BlackBerry, Symbian, name your platform. Mobile app development is where the action is. The next step is making it easier to build apps that run on more than one platform.

4. Dynamic languages take off

PHP, Ruby, JavaScript, Python, et al, see mainstream use. Ruby is used in all kinds of social networking and Web 2.0 environments, however, taking shots for not being as scalable as some other languages. Meanwhile, PHP, Python and others see their use on the rise in the enterprise.

5. ECMAScript (JavaScript) 4 is tabled

ECMA was on track to release the next major version of the ECMAScript specification, but several members of the core working group looking at the issue said let's slow down and make things less complicated. ECMAScript is the standards embodiment of JavaScript, which is the lifeblood of browsers. Tabling ECMAScript 4 means companies like Microsoft can have more time to implement new standards into their browsers.

6. Multicore processors put pressure on application developers

With the advent of multicore systems, developers are being forced to write applications that support them. It means developers essentially have to rethink their development strategies and gear up for parallel environments. Companies such as Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Sun and others are looking at the issue.

7. Microsoft/Adobe rivalry heat up

With new versions of Silverlight and WPF, and Adobe Flash, AIR and "Thermo," Microsoft continues to encroach on Adobe's turf in the rich Internet application (RIA) space with Silverlight 2 and Windows Presentation Foundation. And into the designer/developer workflow arena with Microsoft Expression. However, Adobe continues to innovate, delivering Flash Player 10, a new version of Adobe AIR and its new "Thermo" design tool. Meanwhile, Sun enters the fray with JavaFX.

8. Planting the seeds of 'development as a service'

The Basecamp guys, 37 Signals, do a great job, but there's also Heroku, Bungee Connect and a few others: They've all done special cases of development or team collaboration. If someone were to come in and combine them all, it could be a pretty good (and modern) competitor to Visual Studio and WebSphere. It certainly portends a direction the industry should be taking toward hosted rather than on-premises servers.

9. OSGi (Open Services Gateway initiative) makes a big splash

Eclipse, NetBeans, the Spring Framework, Apache and others are looking to OSGi as the future of their Java deployment environments. Others see OSGi not only for deployment but for its programming model, which is starting to encroach on Java EE APIs.

10. The Spring Framework wins converts

Spring has become a leading player in enterprise Java because it helps to simplify development as opposed to Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) and J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) or Java EE (Java Enterprise Edition).

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