Jack Greenfield, a Microsoft Corp. architect and one of the key architects behind the Redmond, Wash., companys Visual Studio Team System (VSTS), said that with its software-factories approach, Microsoft will provide templates and frameworks based on domain-specific languages to enable developers to build applications in an assembly-line fashion. Greenfield said Microsoft plans to provide these so-called factories for a variety of industries and markets.
Andrew Brust, president of Progressive Systems Consulting Inc. in New York, said, "We will definitely look at it, as it provides a great way for custom development shops like ours to provide the value-adds they do right now in a way that might be more palatable to companies that are gun-shy on custom development. The selling points would be lower cost and a high level of customization."
"I view this type of technology as reinvigorating the market for domestic development," Brust said, adding that "the argument for off-shore outsourcing is that much of the grunt work of application development can be done cheaply and efficiently in lower-priced markets. Meanwhile, if you eliminate the grunt work, the value custom-development firms offer shines through in a readily apparent way."
Calling the software factories "a cool idea," Brust said they could provide "the advantage of ready-to-run functionality packaged as a very specific set of building blocks—almost an API, really. This would avoid the disadvantages of a closed system, while minimizing the reinvention of wheels, if you will."
Moreover, Brust said the concept of software factories is "compatible with the mindset first introduced in VB [Visual Basic] 1.0 more than a decade ago: Spend less time writing plumbing code and more time implementing specific, customized functionality required by your clients.
"The new angle here is that industry- and domain-specific functionality, and not just GUI and other computing features, can be abstracted as plumbing."