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The 21st Century Developer

The 21st Century Developer

Imagine for a moment what it would be like to be a 21st-century software developer sitting in your cubicle at work. All right, I know that we are already a few years into the century, so let's push it up, say, 50 years. Okay, that's better. First of all, you may notice that things have changed a bit. A nice three-dimensional hologram screen surrounds me completely. I can just move stuff around by grabbing it and I can even float around in a three-dimensional virtual space? I like that. And look at that, Dell is still in business. Awesome, dude!

But wait, I'm a developer right? Where is my usual stuff? My IDE, compilers, and debugging tools - all seem to be missing. Go through that virtual revolving door over there? Ah, I see. Whoa, what an awesome-looking machine! As far as the eye can see, there appears to a living digital organism, in constant motion, with lines and pipes full of messages going everywhere. What's that you say? I'm looking at what? This is the entire corporation, complete with all of its processes, running in real time? Very cool! I smell money, so that must be finance over there.

Okay, though, what application do I need to change? We don't do that anymore, we just modify the underlying business process and that's it? And depending on your responsibility and role in the corporation, the system will provide you with everything you need to do your job, including data entry, workflow, etc.?

This may sound like 22nd-century stuff, but if certain industry visionaries are correct, we're already headed down that path with the advent of new standards based on Web services and business process modeling. And the vision of what development would be like in the future is precisely what came to mind the first time I was introduced to BEA Workshop.

With Workshop, programming the underlying J2EE components and the multitude of configuration settings for a Web service or application is done for you automatically - almost as quickly as you can manipulate controls and connectors in a graphical environment. And you can deploy the change to your production environment with the push of a button. All that's really left to do is program in the business logic, and even that's about to change with the release of WebLogic 8.1.

When you add the additional capabilities of BEA WebLogic Integration and Liquid Data, developing and maintaining business rules (the underlying heart of the business process) will be just as easy. And as the industry gains wider support for standards such as BPEL, Integration Server will be ready to go when it comes time to import and export business process information.

You see, we need to understand that constantly changing business requirements are a normal and healthy thing - from the perspective of the business, that is. In order for a business to compete and survive in today's global economy, where the business value chain extends out to a web of external business partners, it will need to constantly tweak its business processes, and in an increasing number of cases, develop customized processes specific to a customer's requirements.

As developers, it is our insistence that business requirements stay static (while we take time to build applications) that tends to get in the way. What this means for today's IT shop is this - we need to be able to make rapid-fire application changes that react to business process change, and do it in as close to real time as possible. And this is precisely how I see the WebLogic 8.1 platform providing a path to the future.

Okay, let me grab a cup of coffee and head back to my cubicle of the future. Wait a minute! You mean to tell me that caffeine is now an illegal substance!

More Stories By Joe Mitchko

Joe Mitchko is the editor-in-chief of WLDJ and a senior technical specialist for a leading consulting services company.

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