Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Helsinki declaration: observation 3 (Yafets)

After observation 1 "we-do-not-use-the-feature-rich-DBMS", and observation 2 "we-are-still-delivering-UFIs-only-in-ways-much-more-complicated-than-we-used-to-do-so", let's move on to the third observation on 20+ years of database application development. As you will see, all observations are (of course) somewhat related. They each just emphasize a different symptom of a single shared underlying trend.

The third observation is about the technology explosion that happened in the last decade. Here's an overview taken from my "part 1" presentation of the available technologies. And yes, I'm aware that there's apples and pears on this overview. It just illustrates a point I want to make.

If you want to build a database web application nowadays you are faced with a couple of (tough) choices to make. There is an ongoing explosion of technology choices available outside the DBMS. New technology enters the arena every six to nine months. Recently introduced technology silently disappears within a few years. I refer to these as technologies du-jour: hot today, forgotten tomorrow. I even have an acronym for them: YAFET's.
  • Yet Another Front End Technology
These are technologies "in front of" the DBMS. In front of Oracle which is the dominant back end technology. Application development used to be easy 10-20 years ago. If you were using the DBMS of vendor ABC, you would also use the application development tools of vendor ABC. Not true anymore today...

Do we really need all these technologies? Better yet: did our customers ask for these? I acknowledge the fact that applications today look different than applications one or two decades ago. For one we moved from character mode to GUI mode (Observation 2). And of course today's applications have features that were technologically impossible in the past. But I also believe that the majority of our customers still ask for applications that are in essence the same as 10-20 years ago (I'll come back to this later). And this unchanged demand doesn't justify the observed technology explosion, if you ask me.

There is one more observation to go (which is closely related to this one).

Stay tuned.


  1. I completely agree: frameworks, and especially web frameworks, spring into existence faster than you can master one. Plus, people are so busy visiting conferences and exhibitions in seek for the next big thing of tomorrow that their time to really understand and master the tools that they have today is reduced even more.

  2. I completely disagree with what you are saying. Mostly technologies are evolving instead of disappeaing. Moreover you mix on your picture different versions of technologies, different levels of the same stream. If you will clean it you will see that the choise is still to be made, but it will not be as tough as you would like to make others believe. Following the presented picture I would, for example, also advice adding JPG, BMP, GIF etc. This is also a choise the web dev should make, isn't it?

    with respect


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