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Re: "As software grows up" .. what do you do?

by sundialsvc4 (Abbot)
on May 08, 2012 at 13:47 UTC ( #969462=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to "As software grows up" .. what do you do?

The “first adopter” scenario is in some ways the most interesting to me because it brings forth the question of what exactly should you do with an application ... now in-service and now revenue producing ... when the technology of the entire world (front-end) is moving headlong into tablet computers, but hasn’t completely done so yet and possibly never will.

As an aside, we used a very interesting new tool on a couple of other projects lately ... check it out ... http://www.haxe.org.   It is a true cross-platform development language.   We haven’t suggested it in this case, but it’s the sort of situation I think we’re all faced with.

Generally, the problem here is ... how to teach an old dog new tricks ... how to replace the engine while you’re driving down the road ... how to drive on two roads at once (possibly forever) ... and, how to persuade a client with rapidly declining revenues that money needs to be spent and spent in entirely new directions.   This concern, at least for us, is growing quite rapidly in proportion.

As a (21-year old...) business, we mostly deal with applications that we did not write, very often after the original developer(s) have “gone on to greener pastures.”   Therefore, reverse-engineering and continuing to support legacy applications is very much a part of our business strategy and always has been.   The question here, then, really is strategy.   When you are wedged against, on the one hand, shrinking revenue because you are not in the lonesome position that you once were in, and on the other hand, uncertain future costs because only a (maybe, quite small) part of what you're running now seems applicable to the future ... and yet, you cannot stop running it, not even for a moment ... well, that’s certainly a conundrum for a business owner.

One not-so-small element of the whole thing is that ... hardware is back, namely in the form of tablets.   And there is no clear winner.   (Hence the vital importance to us of haXe.)   A “web site” is no longer enough.   A “classic” Web 1.0 interface is a serious disadvantage, and it is rather tightly-wedged together in the name of the “mod_perl efficiency” that of course really was a major factor when dealing with smaller machines.   Therefore, I am particularly interested in hearing (here...) the real-world experiences of people who have done and/or who are now doing projects of this nature.

Discussions are welcome; down-votes are merely annoying.   Please refrain.   I need to start a serious discussion-thread here.   (If this sort of situation does not appear to be too-important to you now, trust me, it soon will be.   Our target is moving (again) and I think we all need to collectively be discussing how to serve our various customers’ needs.

p


Comment on Re: "As software grows up" .. what do you do?
Re^2: "As software grows up" .. what do you do?
by pemungkah (Priest) on May 08, 2012 at 20:30 UTC
    I can suggest, and this is vague because I don't know the details at the "left behind" site, that hiring some current UI designers - and I do mean designers - along with some smart front-end developers who are up-to-date with current Javascript frameworks, will let the left-behind company both catch up and provide an excellent user experience on tablets (ok, some tablets are inherently going to provide a poor experience at the moment, but that's not your problem). This also allows you an option to get into the mobile market, if that's applicable.

    For many companies with a major web presence, the shift seems to be away from apps to sophisticated HTML 5 websites. They can look very good on just about anything, and will do a lot to provide that "oh, they must be current" kick that seems to be missing. They also allow you to not be beholden to anyone else for distribution or taking a cut of subscription fees, etc. (I love Apple, but all that's built in to their model.)

    Another alternative is to build APIs that other platforms can use, whether they're HTML 5 applications or custom apps. In addition, direct access to the APIs by customers is another possible revenue stream - selling enhanced access to the basic APIs, more features, or more capacity for a fee. Don't like our basic interface? You can build the one you want - and we offer support services at $XXX to help.

    Essentially, either the service itself has to make is obvious that it's the best, or it needs to provide something else that the competition doesn't: more support, more function, cheaper prices, ... can't make any other suggestions because I don't know the context and I am not a marketer. But the basic is "why are we better, and what should be do to emphasize that? If we're not, what can we do about that?"

      Heh.   I just had a very interesting interview with a person which quickly turned into a discussion.   In that discussion, I held out the notion that I actually don’t think that all of this present methodology that is grounded in HTML5 and JavaScript will survive the onrushing tablet/smart-phone space.

      Here we all are, talking “matter of factly” how Flash is out (good riddance) and “of course” HTML5 is in, and which “of course” JavaScript framework is going to dominate on tablets and ... all of the sudden ... “OMG!   But what if? ...”

      “It’s dejá vu all over again...”

      I think that these hand-held devices are going to bring us straight back to the application, installed individually on each device through the “automatic software update” processes that are now common.   The applications are going to be native, communicating with back-end servers perhaps using legacy-compatible JSON and/or XML:RPC protocols, but our entire “know how” investment of how to build web applications is going to be ... nullified.   “These are not ‘web’ applications.”

      Where do I think it’s going?   I think that the next talked-about thing will be cross-platform development languages, of which I am currently most familiar with http://www.haxe.org and its brethren.   I don’t know if this is the language that will win, but I think it’s the correct approach.   However, there is a wee bit of a problem . . .

      The problem is that there is once again no “short line” between the present state and that one.   Once again, we have corporately made massive investments in a technology that worked, and even witnessed our actions and choices appearing to be sanctified by the biggest and most well-known names ... and then, the technology changed course again and leaves us swimming in an oxbow lake.

      Don’t know yet if I’ll get the gig, but it sure was an interesting discussion.

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