Welcome to This Week in Modern Software, or TWiMS, our weekly roundup of the most important things happening in the world of software analytics, cloud computing, application monitoring, development methodologies, programming languages, and related topics.
This week, our top story concerns the failure of Google+ to make its mark on the social scene.
TWiMS Top Story
What it’s about: Google announced recently that it would no longer require people to use a Google+ profile to sign into YouTube and, eventually, other company products. The Internet, as is its wont, read the tea leaves: Google is slowly marching its largest, costliest (but definitely not its first) attempt at social media success to the gallows. The move also spawned a new round of conflicting speculation that Google may acquire Twitter, which is generally seen to have struggled as a public company. Mashable’s inside look at the rise and fall of Google+ presents the entire software community with an important reminder that even the best-funded, highest-profile projects can often go awry.
Why you should care: Google is hardly suffering these days, but the Google+ story does offer a clear lesson that even the biggest software companies pay a dear price when they chase features for incorrect or incomplete reasons. When you’re choosing what apps and features to build, you need a better rationale than “The competition is doing it.” In an oversimplified nutshell, that was pretty much the genesis of Google+, according to the Mashable report: Google+ was born out of fear that the much smaller Facebook was going to significantly harm its business. It’s a compelling read about, in Mashable’s own words, “how a large technology company tries and often fails to innovate when it feels threatened.”
- It’s the End of Google+ (As We Know It)—Business2Community
- 5 Reasons Google+ Failed: One Power User’s Observations—SiliconANGLE
- Google Just Boosted the Odds That It Will Acquire Twitter—Fortune
- Twitter May Be a Takeover Target, but Google Is Unlikely to Take It Over—Re/code
A New Breed of Software Engineer—Automotive News
What it’s about: Longstanding industry stalwart Automotive News serves up a look at how automakers—and especially the manufacturers in the automobile supply chain—are in a “gold rush” for software engineering talent that’s changing the way they do business.
Why you should care: Software’s eating the auto industry, too, from the connected car to self-driving vehicles to, well, just about every car being made today. Among the story’s interesting insights: Software now accounts for anywhere from $350 to $1,050 of the cost of a car, while the on-board electronics hardware on which it runs can add as much as $6,000 to the final price tag. As these electronics grow increasingly advanced, so does the need for the people who make them work: software developers. Smart employers are turning up much needed talent from unlikely venues. That’s the case at Visteon Corp., which hired games developer and visual effects programmer Kyle Entsminger for its advanced product design team. In turn, Entsminger has recruited engineering talent from nontraditional backgrounds, such as Aaron Forsman, a self-taught games programmer and former professional poker player.
“Somebody like Aaron would have been completely overlooked had he applied for a job through normal channels,” Entsminger tells Automotive News. “‘Do you have a degree? No?’ Aaron wouldn’t have gotten an interview. The computer would have kicked out his resume.”
Enterprise Guide to Windows 10—Network World
What it’s about: Windows 10 is out and the early reviews are generally quite positive, even if they point out the inevitable bugs. (Fear not, bug-hunters: Microsoft is already fulfilling on Windows 10’s promise of regular updates with its first major update.) Much of the coverage understandably focuses on individual users rather than corporations, but Network World researcher Tom Henderson is here to help the enterprise crowd dig into the new version of the venerable OS.
Why you should care: When it comes to upgrades, consumers have it easy. (And many consumers will get their Windows 10 upgrade for free, at least during the first year.) Enterprises have a bit more evaluation and planning to do; migrating thousands of end points isn’t for the meek. Henderson starts with an important point: the full-blown enterprise version of Windows 10 won’t actually be available until later this year. (He also recommends the Enterprise edition over the other tiers of Professional and Education versions.) But he advises companies to prep longer-term migration plans by beginning pilot projects right away. (Microsoft offers 90-day evaluations for IT pros via its TechNet Evaluation Center.)
Henderson runs through plenty of good news (expect fewer complaints from your user community) and technical upgrades (business-oriented security and data encryption, easier updating VMs regardless of platform, and plenty more.) He also notes that Windows 10 helps enterprise IT departments deliver customized app stores to their internal users, including self-provisioning. Just don’t skip over all of the licensing, compliance, and technical details before opening the store’s doors for business.
- How to Tell If Windows 10 Is Succeeding (It’s Not As Easy As It Sounds)—Fast Company
- Microsoft Delivers Windows 10 SR1—Thurrott
7 Things Your Boss Doesn’t Understand About Software Development—Simple Programmer
What it’s about: If you’ve ever been dumbfounded by management’s decisions (or in some cases indecision), this one’s for you. Simple Programmer’s John Sonmez doesn’t mince words in laying out his seven picks for what your boss doesn’t get and what you do. Fair warning to business analysts and project managers: You may need a thick skin for this one.
Why you should care: Two items in particular threaten to hamper even the best software development managers: First, technical debt is a killer, and second, fear of new technologies is often misplaced and unproductive. If your boss doesn’t see the mountains of technical debt your team is accruing, Sonmez recommends approaching them with the terms of the “production versus production capability” balance in Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a canonical work in the corporate management world. Managers who still think it’s 1980, meanwhile, need to realize that in the modern era it may be riskier to stick with old software and tools than it is to deploy new applications and platforms, especially given how frequently software should be updated today.
- A Look at Technical Debt: The Code Monster in Your Closet—New Relic Blog
What it’s about: VisionMobile’s newest quarterly State of the Developer Nationreport includes a wide array of recent and evolving trends, including the dramatic gender imbalance in developer nation, promising interest in Windows 10, cloud’s connection to app revenues, and plenty more.
Why you should care: The report, which counted 13,000 respondents in the latest quarter, is chock-full of insights for the software community and well worth a weekend read. Here are a few especially timely items that jumped out at us:
- The newest data further confirms that mobile has become a two-platform game ruled by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Microsoft, meanwhile, “seems to have finally thrown in the towel” with Windows Phone, and that’s reflected in declining developer interest in the platform. There’s good news for the broader Windows ecosystem, though: 44% of mobile developers included in the report indicated plans to adopt Windows 10, a much higher rate compared with Windows 8 at the same point in the OS’s lifecycle.
- Mobile development, like the technology industry at large, suffers from a massive gender gap: Just 6% of respondents in the Developer Economicsreport were women.
- For a while now, this report has indicated that many developers make little or no money from their apps. The latest edition says devs who build cloud services stand a better chance of earning revenues from their apps than do their counterparts in mobile and other categories.
- 4 Key Mobile App Development Trends—New Relic Blog
- Follow the Money: 4 Financial Lessons for Mobile App Developers—New Relic Blog
What it’s about: Michael Lopp, Pinterest’s top engineering exec, (better known on Twitter as @Rands, and who also presented at the recent Cultivate event at OSCON), sat down for a Q&A with TechCrunch. Lopp, who recently passed the one-year mark with the company after prior posts at Palantir and Apple, talks measurement, hiring, diversity, and why he wants to delegate himself out of a job.
Why you should care: Lopp offers an interesting twist on a term that tech companies are fond of using: “Velocity.” In Lopp’s world, the term doesn’t refer to the number or frequency of code pushes, which he thinks drives engineers batty. Rather, he uses the term to describe stability: “The health of the system. How are we doing, how are we growing.” And he says his primary job is making his engineering team happy and productive. “I’m aggressively pushing things I think I could be really good at and should actually maybe own to someone else who’s gonna get a B at it, but they’re gonna get the opportunity to go do that.” Lopp also expanded on his idea that, “Busy is a bug, not a feature: There’s this thing about busy that feels nice. But that’s actually your ego messing with you, and you’re probably failing in something. Whenever I feel that, I think, why is this here, can I delegate it.”
Want to suggest something that we should cover in the next edition of TWiMS? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[This article was written by Kevin Casey]