New Methodologies on Developers' Minds

SAN MATEO (03/27/2000) - The issue of time restraints -- and how programmers are abandoning traditional methodologies and adapting to meet them -- was a key theme at the Software Developers (SD) 2000 Conference and Expo in San Jose, Calif., last week.

Lightweight methodologies are rapidly becoming the answer to the dilemma of developing more software in less time. So to meet that need, a number of companies are offering alternative tools and releasing prewritten software development packages.

Startup e-Mongoose launched its Windows DNA (Distributed interNet Architecture)-based platform at the show last week. Called a "platform in a box," Mongoose provides packaged Web-based e-commerce and thin-client application development.

"The true value of Mongoose is that it answers the time-to-market proposition," said John Mansour, vice president of marketing at e-Mongoose.

Citrix also previewed its upcoming application development and deployment tool, code-named Vertigo. The company hopes Vertigo will close the gap between the thinness of the application and the richness of the user experience, stressing its use for developing applications for handheld devices.

Another way developers are coping with business running on "Internet time" is extreme programming, which focuses solely on cranking out code as quickly as possible. This leaves some of the finer details such as documentation out of the process.

"If people want it on time, you have to manage projects in a different way," said Jim Highsmith, president of Information Architects, in Indianapolis.

"Uncertainty is a part of the new economy," Highsmith added. "'When are you going to be done?' is no longer a good question."

An old concept, reuse, was also brought up, but many attendees and panelists alike agreed that reuse is a fantasy, a good idea that never came to fruition.

"Reuse is a fallacy; it doesn't exist," said David Linthicum, CTO of Saga Software, in Reston, Va. "And until we agree on a de facto binary mode, I see us moving further away from it."

Others disagreed, saying that there is still hope for reuse, just not in the traditional ways originally planned.

"Reuse is not a fantasy at all; we just didn't go to it," said Bruce Eckel, a member of the SD 2000 Senior Advisory Board. "It's just not the same as people originally imagined it."

Along that line, some suggested utilizing Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) for components, a move that would allow any EJB-compliant application server to reuse the components.e-Mongoose, in Columbus, Ohio, is at Citrix Systems, in Ft.

Lauderdale, Fla., can be reached at

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