Charles Simonyi's gave a keynote presentation today at the MIT Emerging Technologies Conference in Cambridge, MA. Simonyi is best known as the father of Microsoft Word and Excel, a space cadet (he recently went on a mission to the space station) and founder of Intentional Software, which is focused on "perfecting relationships linked to software, by recording the tremendous latent value of business domain and programming intentions in processable form and transforming them into the intended software."
Simonyi founded Intentional Software five years ago. For the last five years, he has asserted that "software as we know it is the bottleneck on the digital horn of plenty" and hampers attempts to innovation in organizations. He reiterated those themes at the Emerging Tech conference.
Just how Simonyi and company will remove development bottlenecks and discover the Holy Grail of programming isn't totally clear. According to a January 2007 article in the Technology Review, "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Meta," Intentional Software has made some progress with its Domain Workbench, where domain experts and engineers collaborate to define the goals, or "projections," an application, turn it into a data schema and convert it to "domain code" that is processed by a "generator" the creates the final code that the machine can run.
Capturing the intentions of computer users and creating generators that can turn intentions into code turns out to be a difficult technical as well as cultural problem. It may take another five. or ten, years before Simonyi and his team crack the code.