Software Developer – Then and Now !
I still remember back in late 90s and in early 2000, if someone asks what is the success of a software developer, I kept saying, “The more you know how to convert practical problems into code and the more you know how to develop each and every individual module in your project, you can travel a long way in the software industry”. The success and the performance of the employee was calculated by his outcome and the knowledge that he possessed about each and every module. But, the scenario got completely changed in the current world. In order to understand the change in developer mindset, we need to go back and see some of the historic moments in software development.
Back in 1990s, the success of the company was to showcase their new implementation pattern and new ideas, which lead to an environment where a developer started making money with the proprietary licensing concept. The mindset of a developer was to create their own way of implementation, in other words, create a duplicate work which is already been implemented, or get ready to pay huge money for the proprietary license. Many small companies struggled even in getting an OS like windows , solaris etc in order to develop their own solutions. To overcome this situation, piracy boomed up. More and more companies fell into this trap and started facing issues in their profit margin.
While this battle of software piracy and proprietary licensing was at its peak, in early 1998, Netscape Communication corporation got motivated by the paper ‘The Cathedral and the Bazaar’ which is based on the effects of Linux kernel and GNU on software industry. It released their popular Netscape Communicator Internet suit as a free software. The source code of this suit became publicly available which became a base for renowned applications like Mozilla Firefox, Thunderbird etc. More and more people joined this initiative for free and open-source softwares. At the end of Feb 1998, ‘The Open Source Initiative’ was founded to encourage the use of the new term and evangelize open-source principles.
While this new concept of open-source was getting popular, commercial software vendors found themselves increasingly threatened by the concept of freely distributed software and universal access to an application’s source code. A Microsoft executive publicly stated in 2001 that “open source is an intellectual property destroyer. I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business.”. The war became intense when ‘Canonical Ltd.’ was founded on Mar 2004. It offered funding for FOSS which eventually made possible to develop Ubuntu, one of the leading operating systems in current world.
Ubuntu is an open source operating system based on debian architecture. The licensing pattern allowed the users to use their own customization at any level of the operating system and use it as an all new branded operating system of their own. As of 2017, around 80 million PCs were running on Ubuntu. Many startups found this option more cost effective. More and more free APIs and applications were written in this platform. Eventually, the booming technologies like AI, ML got complete support from the community via this platform.
This became a big hit for all commercial software vendors. Eventually, losing the battle to FOSS, companies as large as Microsoft have begun to develop official open-source presences on the Internet. IBM, Oracle, Google and State Farm are just a few of the companies with a serious public stake in today’s competitive open-source market. There has been a significant shift in the corporate philosophy concerning the development of FOSS.
Back to our developer mindset! Developers started realizing that, more the code became publicly available and open-sourced, more people will collaborate their ideas into it, which drastically increased the power of softwares. For every commercial software, people started building up their own alternative solutions with collaborative effort. This changed the entire ecosystem of software development life cycle. Many small organizations started taking up the already available open-source software/solutions and started building additional capabilities on top of it and started selling it commercially.
Earlier we use to say ctrl+c and ctrl+v drives the software industry. Even now the same drives the industry – But instead of the code, we are using the entire copy of a software/solution!. The only difference is, No Piracy!
Finally, if someone asks me about the success of a developer in the current trend, “The success of a developer is determined by his capabilities of finding out tools and technologies which have been already developed and understanding how those can be integrated into his software and deliver the solutions at the earliest!”
We at Innovation Incubator took this very seriously and evolved along with the current market trends. Couple of years ago we have started with just NodeJS and PHP. But down the lane we adopted all the latest changes and currently we have around 200+ technologies ranging from AI/ML to Server less applications. We are able to ensure high productivity among the developers by utilizing tools and technologies in such a way that we are aligned to the idea of foss and re usability.
Assistant Vice President- Technology
Innovation Incubator Advisory Pvt Limited