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The Best Way to Build Technologies and Tools: Choose Carefully

A little caution goes a long way when you’re bringing a new technology to market. Make sure you’re going about it the right way.

There are two schools of thought in the software world when it comes to developing a new technology. One incorporates open standards and leverages existing technologies, while leaving the door open for future growth and innovation. The other is based on a proprietary way of doing things, and though it might seem easier and quicker for development—it leaves the user without the ability to innovate or leverage existing skills.

The Tools: Accompanying the new technology will be tools to make using the new product easier, which typically will be built along the same lines as the underlying technology. Some tools will be based on the open standards and integrate into existing IDE, allowing users to continue working in the same development process as before; others will be standalone and build to work on top of the proprietary technologies.

The Pitch: Two companies present a demo of their technologies. Company A, which has built their technology on open standards, shows your team how to develop the application, explaining how you can use any technology and any development environment to build applications. Company B presents a great tool that builds a Web service application or database application via a “pretty” drag-and-drop interface; in five minutes their applications are up and running.

The Trap: The technology from Company A involves learning costs, and their tool only provides a simple ease of use benefits. With Company B’s tool, your team will be creating new applications in half the time; how could you choose otherwise?

The Consequence: After selecting Company B’s tool, an application is up and running quickly, but then you run into the limitations. Due to the nature of proprietary technology, you are at the mercy of one company for their enhancements and upgrades. You are unable to utilize new technologies when needed or work on the technology without the help of the tool; your projects are doomed not to succeed. Worse, however, is that valuable time was sacrificed learning the fundamentals for this tool from a company that is undoubtedly going to fail (Not every company is going to turn into Microsoft, and not every tool is going to be as popular as VB.). On whole, you are left with developers who have not learned anything, were unable to innovate, and have wasted the time they put into using the tool, which will stall their progress, and ultimately, your company.

The Lesson: Choose carefully.

Bob Buffone is a principal software architect responsible for platforms and tools at Nexaweb Technologies, Inc.

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