Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Citizen Developer

I have been thinking about the rise of user friendly development tools. Recently, Google released the Android App Inventor tool which according to Google, "App Inventor requires NO programming knowledge. This is because instead of writing code, you visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app's behavior."
In addition to the Android App Inventor, Microsoft as released their beta version of WebMatrix, which "is for developers, students, or just about anyone who just wants a small and simple way to build Web sites."
So I did a search for the phrase "Citizen Programmer" or "Citizen Developer" to see what was out there. I found where last October, Gartner Group posted an article where they shared that by 2014, 25% of business applications will be done by these citizen developers. Interesting! The article defines a citizen developer as "a user operating outside of the scope of enterprise IT and its governance who creates new business applications for consumption by others either from scratch or by composition."
Historically, CASE tools were to enable the business person to do basic application development. In fact the programming language COBOL was meant to provide that ease of use and comprehension given its verbose and common-language structure.
I consider myself to be an example of a Citizen Developer as my educational background shows that you do not have to have formal development training to be a software developer. Since I received a B.S. in Education from Ohio University in 1993, I have basically learned to program by taking the time to learn to think computationally while learning and using the various interpreted and compiled languages and database systems.

The pattern in the past has been that tools that were marketed to enable business line personnel to create business applications actually required some development skills (such as Microsoft's WebMatrix discussed above). The result was that the tool was moved into the development teams as another tool in the software programming arsenal, leaving the users still depending on the software team to produce the programs.

However, it is my hope that tools such as Android App Inventor will proliferate and result in the growth of the Citizen Developer.

Posted via email from Mark's Musings

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