Derek Britton is the senior director of project management for Micro Focus, a global leader in application modernization, testing and management. Micro Focus provides innovative software that allows companies to dramatically improve the business value of their enterprise applications. Micro Focus Enterprise Application Modernization, Testing and Management software enables customers’ business applications to respond rapidly to market changes and embrace modern architectures with reduced cost and risk. For additional information please visit Derek has posted 1 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

Back to Basics For Enterprise Software Developers

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For IT departments the pressure is on. Internally, ROI is more important than ever and costs are expected to decline while innovation is expected to climb. Externally, employees are bringing in an array of mobile devices and throwing the corporate networks through a loop.

In the midst of all the expectations and pressure, IT needs to get back to basics with software development and re-establish the foothold that can fuel business growth. How can this be acheived, while remaining on the breaking edge of industry trends? Here are three tips all software developers can follow:

1. Deploy applications that have business functionality across multiple platforms

The most obvious shift in the IT landscape has been a proliferation of new platforms for software applications to be run from. The core of every application decision will now have to hone in on breadth of platform support. End-users only want one thing: functionality on their platform of choice. It’s up to development teams to ensure that the functionality is present and streamlined, meaning applications need to be built and updated on reliable code.

2. Use programming languages that are easy to read and write

Change is inevitable, so why make updating and maintaining applications any harder than it needs to be? Programming languages, like COBOL, are simple to understand and don’t necessarily require prior language-specific experience. If software development teams experience turnover over the years and new developers enter the mix, its valuable to have code that doesn’t send developers spinning.

3. Don’t let the hype bring you down

The technology innovations of the future are undefined and infinite –some will change the IT landscape for the better but some will just be a waste of effort. It’s important to remember that not every new, all-the-rage technology is a game changer. Sometimes it is truly just hype. So, IT departments will have to protect the enterprise with careful, objective analysis of each new trend. When it comes to decision time, organization-specific goals and strategy should be the guiding factor.

4. Exploit what works

IT seldom has the opportunity to start from scratch when considering new application development. Even brand new functions, interfaces or applications must live alongside and communicate with existing business systems. Consider first those existing systems. It might be much, much quicker to re-use existing capabilities and re-purpose or tailor them for the new need, rather than start from square one. Consider the IT estate a re-usable library of functionality from which new spins and implementations can grow.

5. Use the right tool for the job

For a front-end layer, choose tooling that enables you to build software that lives happily in a browser or other thin-client interface, which can be built using visual tooling; conversely at the back-end choose tooling that provides strong data typing and robust arithmetic functions for all the number crunching and data management. Consider what is needed and pick the right option – and where possible find a way for any separate activities to share the same framework (eg. .NET or Eclipse) to allow effective testing and resource sharing.

Derek Britton is the senior director of product management for Micro Focus , a leader in application modernization, testing and management. For further content, please visit the Micro Focus blog or follow Micro Focus onTwitter.
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Published at DZone with permission of its author, Derek Britton.

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Oliver Weiler replied on Thu, 2011/11/03 - 3:49am

"Programming languages, like COBOL, are simple to understand and don’t necessarily require prior language-specific experience."

That's why most COBOL programs are an unmaintanable, verbose mess.

"Use programming languages that are easy to read and write ."

Sounds like Python to me.




Jonathan Fisher replied on Thu, 2011/11/03 - 11:55pm

Every non-facebook computer system that got your butt to work and back today is a COBOL system. Your traffic lights, bank, credit card, police dispatch, and state car registration are more than likely COBOL systems. They are indeed a verbose mess, as the language actually promotes copy/paste methodologies.

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