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Can code crunchers be GUI gurus too?

Having recently worked with Sun to provide a surface-level overview of its Java training facilities, a resource caught my eye this week that was labeled as 'A community site for Java developers' - nothing new there then.
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Written by Adrian Bridgwater on

Having recently worked with Sun to provide a surface-level overview of its Java training facilities, a resource caught my eye this week that was labeled as 'A community site for Java developers' - nothing new there then. But here’s the thing…

Put about (sorry, ‘constructed’) by US/Euro open source BI player Actuate, looking at this site got me thinking about the so-called ‘void’ that some vendors argue exists between those individuals focused on hard core coding mechanics and those developers with a more GUI-centric view of the world.

Are special tools needed to encourage hard-code focused developers to be more involved with visual look and feel? Well, of course they can help – otherwise the Windows Presentation Foundation would never have seen the light of day would it?

But can this theorising towards graphical presentation be carried across to the world of business reporting tools as Actuate would have us believe – well, one would hope so if they have offices several major world markets (with the notable exception of Brazil and India).

Actuate’s resource (as I rather loosely called it above) is actually known as the BIRT Exchange and is run by a team of the company’s employees. The Eclipse BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) open source project is, apparently, “The only top-level Eclipse Foundation project dedicated to Business Intelligence.” It features, “The e.Spreadsheet product line that brings Excel spreadsheets to the web and Java.”

But is this all just vendor-fueled gloss? The vast majority of developers surely have a broad enough spectrum of abilities to work on back room mechanics and still embrace an appreciation for the GUI and front-end functionality in general. Again I ask, if there aren’t enough USPs to sell a product in terms of its basic function – are we seeing a new (not that new actually) breed of vendors who are basically just trying to capitalise on the dashboards and dials that an MD or even a not-too-techy CTO will be able to appreciate?

I actually last mentioned this company on ZDNet.co.uk over a year ago and (as far as I can see) they haven’t been making as many headlines here in the UK as they have in the US since that time.

It’s a popular theme though. As of today can you read news from Adobe announcing that the company is working with an outfit called SpringSource to “simplify” the development of Java enterprise-class rich Internet applications (RIAs). Heck, one of Adobe’s new partner announcements (or was it an acquisition?) last year was a company called Effective UI – again, it’s all about the front end.

NB: actually, Adobe would probably argue that it’s actually all about the back-end and collaboration with the Flash “Platform”… but you get the point. What goes up into the technology stack must come down in the GUI.

Anyway – I’m not trying to reach a resolution or some kind, or even a definitive argument for that matter. I’m merely looking to debate the subject. Once again, I know there is breadth enough for core code crunching skills to exist alongside GUI grandeur. So, what do you reckon?

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