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On Developers, Creative Problem Solving, and EclipseCon

EclipseConLogoThe two keynotes on the first day of EclipseCon Boston fit together so well it was eerie. I suspect that it was both by design and not by design – meaning the topics were complementary, so were naturally paired, but the speakers both work in different areas, with different people, and yet are drawing similar conclusions. The convergence of these ideas on developers and creativity and the software market offers insight into how we are solving business problems today.

Steve O’Grady, analyst at RedMonk and author of the book The New Kingmakers, How Developers Conquered the World, gave a brief history of the technology marketplace. He noted that three important open source projects emerged in 1995: Apache, MySQL, and php. All three eventually dominated their domains over commercial products, because they were freely available, worked well enough, and developers embraced them. After the founding of Google, a company that made money without selling software licenses, and Amazon AWS, changing the need for expensive hardware, we are now in the Developer Era. The cost of building software has come down, there is a lot more code and experimentation. We got here through open source.

Jeffrey Hammond, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester talked about “ALM that’s fit to purpose.” Software supply chains are maturing, and crowdsourcing is now a driver for software innovation. Developers have moved from draftsmen to craftsmen – they are creative problem solvers. According to a Forrester survey, 4 out of 5 developers now use open source software at some level, and have done so in last 12 months. Building on the crowdsourcing concept, 27% of developers who write code on their own time contribute to an open source project.

Systems of Empowerment

In the enterprise application space, market forces are pushing applications to solve business problems better, more efficiently, and to have a faster time to value. The best people to deliver on that are developers who deeply understand the problems that need to be solved. What has evolved over the years is that the tech savvy application user is using applications at home, and has a better understanding of user experience than they did in the past. This has pushed application requirements to better address the problems, and as a result developers build better applications.

Bringing together knowledge of the problem, the existing systems, and the new system needed to address the problem requires a whole lot of creativity. And problem solving skills. Jeffrey Hammond said it best – developers are craftsmen. Let’s give them the tools they need, and stand back and let them build. We call these systems of empowerment.

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