20 May 2007

Client/Server apps still going where no J2EE/.Net have gone

Last night while I was chatting with an old friend back in the Philippines to check how they were doing in terms of application development in the enterprise arena. It came to a point where it's my turn to tell a story of how am I doing here in this little island. I had to tell them sadly that nothing has been a breakthrough here since the "dotcom boom" and the "dotcom burst", these guys were just riding the hype of the J2EE "promises" from some five years ago and now it's taking toll. Up to now, J2EE (or even .Net) has put more burden on the developer's learning curve of acquiring new skills instead of delivering real business value to the users, there are more talks on frameworks, platforms and theoritical methodologies that doesn't really work in the real-life enterprise development. Business owners are increasingly frustrated, developers are also increasingly frustrated and now they don't know which tools to hang on to, AJAX? Huh! AJAX is a tool for web applications that are trying hard to be client/server application, so why not do the real stuff? Stop wasting time learning different AJAX toolkits. And web applications that requires AJAX are not enterprise-level ones, unless Google and Flickr can be categorized as web-based ERP systems but that is absurd.

So going back to my conversation with an old friend. He just told me that they have upgraded to PowerBuilder 10.5, for sure those with uninitiated mind will surely laugh at this. But way back in '98 PowerBuilder and Visual Basic are the hottest contenders in the client/server rapid application development space. But now, Visual Basic is virtually dead and PowerBuilder is still raging on and delivering what it didn't promise. Users are still happy, developers are happy and can go home at 5:30pm no need to pretend trying to look like a genius that cracks code until 1am. Everything in the enterprise should be really, really simple. don't waste time on unnecessary integrated or "out-of-the-box", "bundled-altogether" promises of some of tech vendor shouting at their minds "We Simply Fry" and will tell you they're going to do it in Spring and Hibernate with some domain modelling strategies for problems that has been solved long ago by tools such as PowerBuilder, Visual Foxpro. These tools are laughing stocks nowadays because they don't look very "technical" and they don't sound too "smart" if you're using them. But up to now, no single tool has ever beaten the power of the DataWindow. But hey, speaking of VFP, Codeplex and SEDNA. They don't make too much noise these days but still packs a lot of punch.

Frankly, J2EE guys who haven't touched a code of any client/server RAD tools from '98 til present, should really, really go back to the drawing board. That's why client/server apps will go back with the vengeance. J2EE/.Net's frustration-to-happiness ratio is just really unacceptable.