Java developers have to be “Jacks-or-Jills of all trades” today, because mobile computing is complicating and bringing new dimensions to application development. Also, today’s mobile application-savvy user base amps up demand for application quality and design, said Java development experts John King and Monty Latiolais in an interview with TheServerSide.com at JavaOne and Oracle OpenWorld 2012 this week.
“Mobile application users today are incredibly spoiled,” said Latiolais, president of the Oracle Development Tools User Group. “They know how they want their apps to work, mostly like their handheld apps work. They know that they want to organize their workflows around the task, not the underlying computing system.” Latiolais is senior programmer analyst with SC Global Tubular Solutions, a Sumitomo Corporation subsidiary specializing in OCTG supply chain management.
With mobility comes a whole list of risks in security and data integrity, challenges for business intelligence, integration barriers between applications and devices and more, said King, ODTUG director. In addition, user interfaces have to be more than functional, “they have to be cool,” he said. “That’s a tall order, and it calls for multi-faceted developers.”
Development and IT can’t hide behind the curtain and push the buttons like The Wizard of Oz anymore. “Development and IT groups have to be more honest today, because users want mobile devices to do everything. They have to make a good case for what a device and an application can and can’t do,” said King. Opening the application development and lifecycle management process to all involved reduces conflicts. “Collaboration between development, IT, business and users is a must.”
This new wave of computing calls for task-oriented, rather than system-focused, development, both experts said. “The task is the new bottom line, the main focus,” said King. “Too many development teams build apps without being clear on the task. Instead, they’re more linked to how the system works.”
Get away from building apps based on systems requirements, advised Latiolais, that method is a holdover of developing for mainframe and UNIX systems. Focus instead on what the user has to accomplish.
Looking for a new skillset? Both experts advise developers to build their skills in user experience design and testing. Continually put yourself in the customer’s shoes, said King, who has worked his way up to power user status on some device. Developers who go where the customer goes will be better prepared for the next new thing, “whatever that is,” said King.