The past two weeks have been tremendously productive and satisfying. I’ve spent most of my time heads down coding on the Quickturn app. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to be able to focus on doing a single thing really well. Ruby on Rails (RoR) is an amazing platform, and working with it has helped me crystalize my big epiphany for this week: the days of the software developer are numbered. In the future, I think there will simply be the software engineer. Instead of developing software, they will focus on integrating and customizing existing components to achieve business requirements. Some call this declarative programming other folks call it integration. It really doesn’t matter what you call it, or what you think about it. Most code needed to do most things will be completely commoditized in the very near future.
You can clearly see this today with Ruby on Rails - there isn’t much you can think of that doesn’t already have a dozen or more, well-designed and well-tested Gems. And developers using this platform can be so productive, that one could understand trading off extreme scalability for getting your ideas into the market quickly. I’m not suggesting that RoR will be the platform, but you can already see this same thing happening to Objective-C/ iOS development, and other platforms as well.
Furthering this point, the open platforms are just killing it. Maybe it is the GitHub effect, I’m not sure. But the depth and quality of the open source communities (because there are many, disconnected communities) is mind boggling. No matter what I’m looking for, all I need to do is a site search on GitHub and I have dozens of great options to choose from, whether it is a PostgreSQL browser or an A/B experimentation framework for iOS. If I can’t find it there, Stack Overflow will know.
This is a tremendous thing for product managers, designers and entrepreneurs. The barriers holding these folks back from creating their ideas are quickly falling down. And for the areas not commoditized yet, there is an army of good software engineers available quickly and cheaply through e-lance.com and guru.com, and many other sites. My friends with small companies use them all the time with fantastic results. This is a glorious thing for developers too. While I will miss writing as many of my own libraries, I no longer have to rewrite my application over and over again at every tier – the Framework does that. And it helps me stay focused on how the whole system comes together. I think that’s more fun in the long run. (Oh, and I still code my own libraries, just now it is part of my 20% project, and just for fun :)
I finished my taxes last week, and stumbled upon some old receipts from my first software company back in 2001. I can’t believe all the things I had to pay for: $300 annual web hosting fees, $5,000 legal fees to incorporate a company, $300 in desktop software for Metrowerks, Visual Studio, etc. Each of those are now less then $30 per year. I can’t wait for the future.
Fun Links for This Week
- Awesome mini Web IDEs make easy and fun to learn programming… CodePen is particularly awesome because of the community aspects, but there are many others: JSBin, and JSFiddle. Check out these fun projects: Fern, Pong, Basic Grid System
- Better web fonts are in our future… Typekit brings Adobe’s awesome font library to your website for super cheap. Google Fonts does it almost as well for a better price (free), and ZURB Foundation has a great icon font that will replace all the silly PNGs/sprites that make you want to poke your eyes out.
- I miss the daily meme’s from Robb Anderson, it has been waaaay tooo long since I’ve been to www.animalsbeingdicks.com.
The good news is that I’m making tons of progress and getting much more proficient in the giant rails environment, the bad news is that I’m probably about a full week behind in coding. Some of that is due to a few lost days looking back east, lost in thought about friends and family. But the real delay has been working with Mechanical Turk. The existing Gems were not optimized for my scenario, so I’ve lost a week writing my own.
I anticipate one more week of being heads down to get the payment support integrated (the most important feature wouldn’t you agree :) and then I expect to be able to onboard the first set of beta customers starting next week. Whoohoo!. You can see my progress in this handy Trello chart.
I’ve also continued to meet with a few different companies here and there that are interested in using the product, so I expect to have a handful of very good customer prospects in my beta customer list. Next week will be big.