Monday, September 24, 2012

Dan Appleman has found his next Visual Basic?

Dan Appleman: Kibitzing and Commentary - is the next Visual Basic

"I just came back from the Dreamforce conference with an epiphany – is the next Visual Basic. Some less experienced software developers might think that’s an insult, but those of us who have been around know that it’s not merely a compliment – it’s an observation that, if true, represents a potential tectonic shift to our industry.


I’ve been searching for that magic for a long time. I kept waiting for it to appear out of nowhere the way VB 1.0 did. I sure didn’t expect it to sneak up on me from behind.


It was only at Dreamforce that the pieces truly fell into place. And I’m not talking about the entire 90,000 person strong Dreamforce conference. Many of those people are sales and marketing people – I don’t even speak their language. I’m talking about the Developer Zone that filled all of Moscone West. That’s where I finally had a chance to really talk to people, and sense the passion and excitement in the community. Here’s what I saw:

  • A web based GUI environment that provides a high level of abstraction for developing real applications that seamlessly integrate core features like database, email, reporting, the web, chat and mobile.
  • An environment that lets you do a great deal without code, but provides the language and “hooks” that allow serious programmers to go much farther.
  • A flood of non-programmers who are using the environment to solve real problems, and who are stumbling into actual programming.
  • Lots of truly awful code being written, so there’s a huge need for training and a thirst for knowledge on how to do things correctly.
  • A language and platform that doesn’t seem to get much respect from the “real” programmers doing Java, C# or other languages, even though the demand (and pay) for and Apex programmers is huge.

After speaking, attending sessions, and talking to the consultants and the Salesforce team, I realized that I had entered a constant state of Déjà vu.  There was excitement. There was community. There was technology. There was productivity. There was fun. There was magic. It was just like the early days in the VB community.


But now that I think about it, it’s not surprising at all that I was at Dreamforce. My favorite times during my career were being part of the Visual Basic community – developing code and components, and writing books and articles to help self-taught programmers to become great developers. When that went away, so did a lot of the fun, and I drifted to other interests. But I always missed the magic.

I didn’t know what to expect at my first Dreamforce. But what I did not expect was that I would find my old friend Visual Basic (or rather, that it would find me). Only this time, it goes by the name of, and the underlying language is called Apex. It was fun. It was magic. I was home."

hum... interesting. There was a time when I wanted to grow up to be Dan and his VB work still holds a special place in my heart.

I'm not sure if this is the dark side or not, but I'll now be keeping more of an eye out for more on this....

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