The Next Five Years

Here are three immediate concerns:

Year 2K issues will continue for the rest of this year and well into next year as ‘non-critical’ systems are gradually fixed or replaced.

The Internet continues to grow at truly astounding rate. We’ll return to this on the next slide and later.

The worlds of databases and that of objects must be brought closer together. How this will happen is not clear at the moment - none of the solutions currently available seem to work very well.

Returning to the Internet, we must decide how we will embrace the true potential of the Internet and turn it into a new communication medium. Too much of its content is merely rehashes of other information. There’s still a feeling that information on the Internet is of a lower quality - after all, it’s much easier producing a website than getting a book published.

Let’s turn to a pet subject of mine - ‘software as craft industry’. I look round the industry and see ‘craft workshops’ not factories. I still see people re-inventing wheels (even with OO) rather than buying pre-built sub-assemblies.

That leads me neatly on to another pet subject - why do we still write code? All right, the development of tools such as VisualAge is helping but, I am willing to bet, most developers still spend most of their time correcting mistakes in code that they’ve written. Am I wrong?

The final question is universal in every field of human endeavor - life would be much simpler if we knew what was coming next. This is particularly true in a field that developing quickly. Five years ago, I thought Smalltalk would last me through to the end of my working life. Some hope!

Let’s look just five years forward… That’s not very far - Windows 95 was in beta five years ago. I see two big challenges - complexity and quality.

Software is becoming complex - most large systems are now too complicated for one person to understand. The increasing fragmentation of the marketplace as regionalisation becomes a major trend means that software will become even more complex. Imagine, for example, a world where each region has its own tax regime and health and safety regulations.

If there are major incidents over Year 2K, then software companies will find that quality will become paramount. Insurance premiums could skyrocket as claims multiply. Would you insure someone who is using your software?

The drive for workable voice input will continue. I think we’re a couple of generations away yet but we’ll see…

The ‘overlapping square window’ style of user interface has been around for some time now - is it time for something new?

But, the real excitement could be that, finally, we are really entering ‘The Digital World’.

The Internet is a bridge between the telephone and the computer. It’s finally broken down the wall between these two worlds.

Let’s take a step forward… To a world where everything talks to everything else - your fridge talks to your microwave.

Welcome to the ‘Digital World’!

I don’t know what it will be like, I don’t know how quickly it will happen but I suspect that it will be here quicker than we might think.

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