This week at the IBM Impact 2014 conference, IBM previewed a significant extension to its application development tool portfolio in the form of a new class of rapid application development tools running on top of the IBM BlueMix cloud integration service. According to Jerry Cuomo, IBM fellow and CTO for WebSphere, the rise of services in the cloud that are exposed via APIs now makes it possible to give power users a class of application development tools that enables them to create applications without the direct involvement of a developer.
Cuomo says BlueMix RapidApps Builder will enable users to dynamically link data objects within a visual environment to create an application. The end user then selects the target device they want to deploy the application on and BlueMix RapidApp Builder automatically customizes the user interface of the application to suit the device.
In essence, Cuomo says BlueMix RapidApps Builder is designed to provide a lot of the application development functionality in the cloud that many organizations have once relied on a platform such as Lotus Notes to deliver. By leveraging APIs and the cloud to build those classes of applications BlueMix RapidApps Builder is essentially allowing end users to assemble an application versus actually building one by having to write actual code, says Cuomo.
Obviously, IBM is not the only company taking advantage of APIs to provide RAD tools aimed at end users. As those tools gain in popularity the number of applications that expose APIs should dramatically increase. After all, not only are end users invoking APIs to create those applications; they will most certainly expose them to other applications using APIs. In effect, allowing end users to create their own applications should break an application development logjam that will lead to more applications being deployed than ever.
As cloud computing continues to evolve the line between professional developers and end users is going to continue to blur. The fact that more end users are building applications shouldn’t reduce demand for professional developers; it’s just at the moment the demand for new applications far exceeds the number of applications that the professional development community can produce.
Longer term, developers will also be required to manage the inter-relationships between all the processes those applications make up. To the degree that all those applications share a common underlying architecture the simpler that task may actually be. The odds on that happening are slim to none. But the degree to which organizations can centralize where applications run, the easier it definitely will be to share data between them and ultimately manage them.