'Mobile' code is key says Sun

Mobile code, Java and XML, portable data is the way to go for developers, according to Sun's chief technologist. And don't worry, software developers will always have jobs.

BOSTON -- The rapidly shifting landscape of software development means those working in the field need to revamp both the way they're building applications and what they're using to do their jobs.

That was the message delivered Wednesday by Rob Gingell, chief technologist for Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Software Systems Group. Gingell was the keynote speaker here on the opening day of Sun's Tech Days event, which drew upwards of 1,000 developers.

"You've got to start looking at life as a journey rather than as a destination," Gingell said.

While Sun has a vested interest in getting developers to work with Java, Gingell stressed the importance of using what he called "mobile code" like Java to build applications because of the rapid-fire changes in technology today. Developers also can use Java and J2EE to wrap around legacy systems to take advantage of networked computing, he said.

Gingell also urged developers to work with the Extensible Markup Language (XML) because the language helps make their data portable.

"What enables [Web] services to occur is mobile data and mobile code," Gingell said. "It's simply not going to be feasible for people to hold the network still and allow you to update it."

'You ain't seen nothing yet'

Gingell joked that the rapidly evolving environment means software developers will always have jobs.

"There's not really an end to this thing," he said. "The ways we plan for capacity are going to be obsolete. You can't predict who's going to use your system and when."

The climate has changed in a way that "now a client is anything with an IP address," Gingell said.

Gingell predicted an increase in the "componentization" of systems as well as smarter and more autonomous devices.

Rather than many technologies shaking out and paring down, there is a growing diversity, he said.

"One of the reasons that's happening is the Internet is in a 'You ain't seen nothing yet' kind of state," Gingell said. "Just structurally we have today only about 20 percent built out. As big as you think the Internet is now, it's still got a long way to go."