Will DIY apps become popular?

2 03 2009

Over the last eighteen months, I have taken a keen interest in programming. I can do C and PHP pretty comfortably. I have toyed with Objective-C, Ruby, and even a little Python. I am still relatively new to this and am still routinely mystified by object-oriented programming, the cornerstone of most major development projects. I have also taken an active approach to learning Cocoa and, by extension, Cocoa Touch. I have gone from being completely ignorant about programming to cranking out little command line programs to writing for the Macintosh in less than two years. This got me thinking, “Who else is going to do this?”

tools_heroI got a little bored a couple of weeks ago and wrote a simple, 5-function calculator in C. That took me about 5 hours, 140 lines of code, and half my attention span. That was when I had an idea that I am positive others have had: Will people start writing their own programs? I grew up around computers. They are firmly entangled in my life. Logic suggests that younger generations will have lives even further enmeshed with computers and information technology. If I did not like any of the applications out there in a given category or if I found one I liked and did not want to pay what they were asking for, I might be inclined to write my own. It would be a good, fun project. It would give me skills that I could easily transfer to the workplace. If my employer and I think the application I wrote is good enough, the skills would not be the only thing transferred to the workplace.

My programming skills are not too advanced yet, a situation I hope to rectify soon. I do anticipate being able to write more and more advanced applications as my skills grow. I do not see why this would be different for anyone else. I would hope that computer programming classes become a part of high school curricula across the country. If kids came out of high school with an interest in programming from the start, they could figure out how to make their own applications. Instead of relying on overpriced software from Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, or someone else, they would have the ability to create their own tools.

I think a trend that we will see more and more over the coming years is computer technology becoming increasingly integrated with our lives. (I suppose that is like saying the sky is blue.) I envision people going less and less to major corporations for their software and turning to themselves. This has been realized to some extent with the open source movement. There, friends and communities create their own software and distribute it to others. What I am proposing here is that people will create tools for their own personal use, not so much to share with others. I think ordinary people creating their own software will become a larger part of the overall developer community.

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