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I want my software application like yesterday

By Jean-Claude Elias - Oct 14,2020 - Last updated at Oct 14,2020

AFP photo

How fast can computer programmers develop and deliver software applications? Never fast enough in these trying times.

One of the consequences of the massive trend towards working remotely is the strong demand for IT services and products. In addition to the understandable need for reliable and fast networks of all kinds, wired or wireless, and for mobile equipment, laptops, webcams and quality microphones, the most striking change that took place over the past seven months is the need for new software applications. And the deadline for delivery — as it is often and ironically said in business — is yesterday.

How can designers and developers deliver work in a very short time when we know how time-consuming is the process, and how long it usually takes to fine-tune a computer programme, to test it and to have it debugged? Some major programmes take years to reach a stable version.

Though the timeframe is not the same for large projects and for small applications, it is nevertheless much narrower today that it was 10 or 15 years ago. We do not only need to work faster, we want any new software that lets us achieve this to be ready overnight. And since most every task is being digitised, automated, computerised and moved from local to online, one can easily imagine the gigantic dimension of the daunting task.

Not to forget that new applications must take into consideration the world of mobile and smartphone computing. This applies, in particular, to the countless programmes that let you call a taxi, order pizza, check your bank account, and of course make payments, with that small device that sits in the palm of your hand.

The change is taking place at a frantic pace. This week users in Jordan discovered that they could not anymore make voice or video calls with WhatsApp. Messages that pop up on the screen say that the network, be it wifi or 4G, does not allow for this. Many people went around the sudden ban and switched to videocall applications like, among others, the excellent Duo by no one else than Google. WhatsApp was launched in 2009. The much newer Duo was made available only in 2016 and is already very stable. The change goes on and on…

Whereas some business sectors like tourism and restaurants, for example, are dramatically affected by the Covid situation, and laying off employees, companies that develop software are recruiting, in Jordan and abroad.

Naturally, programming today is not what it used to be. There are new tools, and perhaps more importantly new methodologies, that all come to the rescue. There are new, more powerful languages, and object-oriented approach that allow programmers to work faster by using already available modules, and to “re-assemble” them, to put it simply, without having to reinvent the wheel each time. One of the methodologies that is commonly used to save development and delivery time is called Agile. It lets the client be involved from the onset, and to interact with the developers all along the way, to avoid further unexpected changes that usually delay the outcome.

No tool or methodology, however, is enough to reduce the stress. Again, the already high demand is boosted by the viral situation. Cashless payments, for example, via mobile or other devices, were already a trend everywhere. With the current sanitary situation, the need to make payment without any physical contact, without handling cash at all, has become a priority. New, faster, safer, and easy-to-use such applications are now a must.

The stress on software designers, programmers, developers and coders has reached a peak. We can just hope that they can stand the heat and keep on delivering.

 

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