Whos Down With OPP?

Opinion: Don't confuse OPP with OOP (object-oriented programming). OPP is music to the ears of applications developers inside and outside the enterprise.

Whos down with OPP?

OPP, the title of a 90s rap song by the group Naughty By Nature described the issue of other peoples ... well, property. Here Im talking about OPP as Other Peoples Programming.

Ive long equated the world of hip-hop with that of application development, where rappers use samples and snippets of existing music to make music in the way that programmers use components, objects and reusable code snippets to make programs—in short, OPP.

In essence, the whole move to OOP (object-oriented programming) was one big move to OPP.

And the trend only grows with each new wave of software development. The need for more and more applications, and particularly more complex applications, is pushing developers to call for more simplicity in development, more frameworks, more prepackaged code, more OPP to turn out apps.

And its not just mainstream developers who are looking for help, but business analysts, casual developers and practically anybody who needs to piece together applications to help keep their department, small business or organization running.

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Meanwhile, vendors are looking to tap this market—Sun is targeting "less sophisticated" developers with its Java Studio Creator and Microsoft is hot after it with its Visual Studio Express line.

But check it, back to the analogy.

In hip-hop, there are all of these folks who are usually not formally trained in music, but who have good ears and have grown up with digital technology and can sample and mix practically anything they want.

Likewise, the push toward greater ease-of-use with components and such can enable less-skilled "developers" to build apps—and even ease the burden of more serious developers.

However, purists might argue that its not real stuff.

"But is it really music?" a former boss once asked when he overheard me talking about a rap song. Well, yeah, it is.

Similarly, one might ask, "Are they real apps?" that non-coding developers are building. Sure. No, the rappers arent writing concertos or complex jazz pieces, but a lot of them put out really remarkable work.

And the folks putting together applications from components, from OPP, are not actually coding, but theyre making useful stuff.

In hip-hop, Kanye West is probably the best example of this lately.

Its no wonder the nerdy rappers/producers are among the most successful. West, a Grammy winner who has graced the cover of Time magazine and been selected as one of Barbara Walters most interesting people this year, is among the most innovative in the rap game.

His hit "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" is a stone cold killer that samples Shirley Bassey belting out the signature line from the theme song of the James Bond film "Diamonds Are Forever."

On his latest CD, West also capably samples and revives Ray Charles "I Got A Woman" to bring his hit "Gold Digger" to life.

Even nerdier than Kanye is Pharrell Williams, also known as Skateboard P, who with his production team the Neptunes, is up for a Grammy for producer of the year.

Pharrell teamed with legendary rapper Snoop Dogg on the mega-hit "Drop It Like Its Hot" earlier this year. And, one to revel in his nerdiness, Williams and the Neptunes Web site is called www.N-E-R-D.com.

Williams also has been a hitmaker as a producer for the likes of Nelly, Janet Jackson, Gwen Stefani and Jay-Z.

Speaking of Jay-Z, one of the more innovative samplings on a rap tune ever was his treatment of "Its The Hard Knock Life" from the Broadway production of Annie atop a super-phat beat, proving that with the right elements you can fuse almost any music.

Next Page: The wisdom of the self-taught.