Friday, 8 August 2008

Killer Frameworks vs. Killer Apps

I came across this post on Java Lobby the other day, which put a grin on my face. Basically the author of the post was questioning how come there are so many programming libraries and frameworks out there and people talk about them so much, but no one seem to talk about business applications with the same level of enthusiasm.

This phenomenon is something that I observe everyday yet never realised it until reading the post. Now that I come to think about it, I can find several reasons for this.

First of all, the web sites such as Java Lobby cater for the software developer communities. Software developers tend to value technical knowledge more than business (domain) knowledge. After all, domain knowledge experts are usually titled business analysts, subject matter experts, and the like. The role of developers is mainly solving problems with technical tools. If the same business problem can be solved by non-technical means, e.g. lobbying, re-organising, developers are kept out of the exercise. So it's no wonder developers talk about technical tools all the time.

Of course, there are developers who are also interested in business knowledge and excel in it. However, the very nature of domain knowledge is, well... domain-specific. This means that what you know and what you blog about may not be understood or appreciated by the rest of the developer community. Therefore, this kind of discussions are rare. (When I tell people that I work in the Telco industry in a birthday party, they automatically assume that I know how to install telephone lines into their houses).

Also, the IT industry is very dynamic and people move around fairly frequently. So after such moves, the domain knowledge may also change and new killer app ideas will germinate and the old killer app ideas wither. Without longevity, it is pretty hard to grow an idea into a full-blown product.

Another reason for the phenomenon is that discussion about business products are not as generic as talking about technology such as Java which actually covers many topics. By comparison, the area covered by a business product is very small. I am sure you can find blogs about great gaming ideas on gaming sites. But I doubt that the same gaming site also talk about billing applications. Therefore, their audience is also quite limited.

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