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Does codeless application development = clueless application development?

This old chestnut has been rolling around the blog-o-sphere since Bill Gates was knee high to a groundhog I know, but it seems to be no less of a talking point today. So is web development to blame?

This old chestnut has been rolling around the blog-o-sphere since Bill Gates was knee high to a groundhog I know, but it seems to be no less of a talking point today. So is web development to blame?

Perhaps the reason I am asking is because web application toolkits are being increasingly augmented in terms of automation options to give non command line proficient programmers more of a hand in the cake mix eh?

Hey wait for it - someone's going to say that this helps, "Better align the business and IT functions within a given commercial environment." No need OK? I just did it.

What annoys me here is that vendors in this space seem to want to try and explain that drag-and-drop development (or more codeless development) is some kind of magical route towards what is called more 'data-driven applications' – sorry, but is there another kind?

So let's dig deeper – does codeless equal clueless?

Well if you can stomach the extended acronym, distributed source control management (DSCM) systems have, I would argue, a useful role to play here.

DSCM sounds less alien if we consider that Linus Torvalds' Git system which he developed when he could no longer use BitKeeper to manage the Linux kernel source code was (and essentially still is) exactly that.

As a term, DSCM is typically used to describe software (but crucially, not user data) as a set of changes that can subsequently be managed. So suddenly we are talking about platforms to create apps (probably, but not necessarily web-based) that are distributable yet manageable.

Let me explain.

This is where we move to a so-called 'unified notion' of both data and application structure where both are managed from the same toolbox. So for example, a live distributed system could be developed with two nodes (one as a failover) – and having a history of all data means that all changes can be tracked to users and changes can be undone or redone as required.

Ah so that's what they mean by data-centric and/or data-driven applications. Why didn't they say that in the first place and who is 'they' anywhere?

Credit where credit is due, this idea emanates from a series of conversations with the good people at WebEnableIT and their Emanate5 platform with its 'expressive' way of describing applications.

For a company that is happy to put the term, "We take the coding out of application development," – on its home page, they're actually deeply technical.

The company blurb appropriately states that, "The advantage of Emanate5 is that it has a declarative representation of applications, as opposed to source code, which is never interpreted by the DSCM. So dependencies can be determined with certainty (rather than the heuristics employed by DSCM’s). This increases the robustness of results and reduces the needs for intervention."

Maybe we need a new acronym to discuss this space? How about DDD&D – for Deep Dive Drag & Drop? Oh well, I hope I've kicked the ball forward in terms of discussion in this space and score a hit on the DSCM world cup wallchart.