A Sip From The Firehose: May 6, 1996

By: David Intersimone

Abstract: I'm still on the road in Europe (10 countries in 19 days) showing Borland C++, Delphi and Java to developers and press.

Monday, May 6, 1996
Amsterdam, Netherlands

I'm still on the road in Europe (10 countries in 19 days) showing Borland C++, Delphi and Java to developers and press. Many developers are involved in large projects, working for large companies, and thinking large thoughts.

Last Saturday I visited a popular tourist attraction outside Amsterdam called Madurodam. At Madurodam you can walk around the grounds and see all the major
sites in the Netherlands in about 3 hours. The park contains 1/100th scale replicas of cathedrals, buildings, monuments, and bridges. For someone (like me) with little time to see all of the country, Madurodam was just the right ticket. If we could do the same for software and projects.

As I was thinking about 1/100th scale things, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a developer friend, Steve Hochschild, at last year's IndyCar races at Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey California. We were talking about the computer industry, how everyone was trying to do
large things, build large companies, solve large problems. We were both dreaming about a time when we could do small things and do them well while having loads of fun. Steve talked about building a carting track near Austin Texas. The conversation moved on to software components (don't all conversations among techies move rapidly like this?).

I talked to Steve about my developers dream world where all the components you needed would be available for purchase on the Internet at prices everyone could afford. You're working late on Saturday night and need a special animated button. You connect to the Internet and download one for fifty cents. Later that same evening (or was it early
Sunday morning) you realize you need accounting and graphics capabilities so you log on and get them for fourteen and eight dollars respectively. The charges are automatically billed to your credit card.

Components, those small nuggets of great power with clean simple interfaces, will prove to be the salve for the pain of large projects. Software factories around the world will be crafting components of every size, shape and description and sell them via the world wide web. Programmers struggling with large projects will have fun gluing together a network of components just like they did as kids building that thousand piece aircraft carrier model.

Brad Cox, of ObjectiveC fame, predicted this software component revolution in his book "Object Oriented Programming, An Evolutionary Approach" published by Addison Wesley in 1986. In his book, Dr. Cox coined the phrase "Software-IC" (which is a trademark of Productivity Products International) as the name for reusable components programmers would use to build larger systems. Modern day components we all use include VBX, OCX and ActiveX.

Someday developers will go walking through a cyberspace Madurodam full of 1/1000000th scale software projects that have been packaged into reusable components
and are sold for under a dollar.

Ahhh, to do something small again!

David Intersimone
(davidi@inprise.com)


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