What users want is not more features on their desktops, but richer services on corporate and Internet servers. Competitive advantage is coming from distributed applications, with computationally intensive database operations at the hub and small, cheap but responsive clients on the spokes of the IT wheel. Tight code is back in vogue, and hardware prices are seeking consumer-electronics levels. It feels like time for developers to get back to work.
Do those words sound familiar? If so, credit yourself with an excellent memory; I wrote them for our online column, "Off The Cuff," three years ago. And now Im hearing that software developers can garner a 50 percent salary premium if they can write the kind of ware that runs well in limited memory with a slow CPU, accessing remote resources by narrow-band (especially wireless) links. Theres no substitute for people who can code.
Scarce talent will go where return on effort is highest. Thats why its so important to see the arrival, finally, of Borland Softwares Kylix, a Linux-based Object Pascal programming tool kit similar to the companys Delphi for Windows.
For the thousands of enterprise desktop devices that are bought to run a single custom application, such as order entry or insurance claims processing, a tool like Kylix is the key that opens enterprise doors to Linux in places other than the server room. Windows on the desktop could quickly become a home and small-business solution, while enterprises shun its high cost per seat.
Linux on handhelds is somewhat further off, I suspect, but Visual Basic development skills can quickly be turned toward Palm OS projects with AppForges AppForge Professional (due for release Feb. 15).
The future is here; lets live it.