Today’s post is part of a monthly series exploring areas of focus and innovation for NI software.
I’m excited about this new series—a collection of software musings intended to discuss revolutionary transformations happening right now in the modern software developer space. As the leader of a three-decade young software platform, I’m more than a little excited that the days when developers use a serial design methodology, work on monolithic technology stacks, deploy to a singular hardware device, or develop predictable IP are obliterated.
Our modern, high-tech world is one where expectations have dramatically evolved, everything is distributed, the challenges we face didn’t exist five years ago, and the challenges we are building for have yet to be defined (at least with a catchy marketing tagline). In my view, there are three oversimplified areas that define world-class, modern software.
1. User Experience Is King
Adam Richardson made this blatantly clear in his book Innovation X—whether you’re designing for creative Gen Y artists or mature employees in an established engineering discipline, your software design will be held to a new standard. Twenty years ago distinct industries were held to their own separate UX standards. Consumers had their expectations, engineers had theirs, and students had theirs. But today, these lines are so blurry that they no longer exist. Instead, what Samsung does with the next mobile UI influences and impacts the experience lead scientists at CERN expect from their engineering software. While traditional test and control vendors might continue to struggle, this is a great thing for all of us that consume (and develop) software. We have high expectations and we should have them met. Massive innovation is desperately needed in our space.
2. Distributed Data, Analytics, and Devices Showed Up Yesterday
Your software must be optimized for smartphones, tablets, laptops, clouds, and even wearables. This “trend” already happened by the way, just in case you weren’t looking, and it’s something modern software tools need to understand, leverage, and connect with. This simple statement encompasses a whole host of software challenges spanning incredibly diverse capabilities from e-ink screens to ultra HD, OS compatibility from Linux to iOS, mobile apps, HTML 5, and traditional client software. Knowing all of our devices will be connected, the inherent capabilities in your software need to be baked-in to communicate, correlate, and analyze data from your other devices, the back-end systems, and those devices you thought were unrelated.
3. The Possibilities Dwarf the Challenges
Yes, it’s daunting, but the modern software world is more tempting than terrifying. Even traditional, on-premise software vendors like Microsoft are transforming their views on software to be cloud-optimized, hardware-centric vendors like Xilinx are looking toward innovation where they never ventured before, the maker market is influencing monster corporations, and creative design is driving functionality in traditionally conservative fields like engineering and science at a much needed pace.
David Fuller and me demonstrating the possibilities of a touch screen user interface at NIWeek 2011.
Moving forward in this series, we will explore how revolutionary visions of a true software platform framework change the productivity and capability game in ways our industry may not be able to imagine today.
Today’s Featured Author
Shelley Gretlein is a self-proclaimed software geek and robot aficionado. As NI’s director of software marketing, you can find Shelley championing LabVIEW from keynote stages to user forums to elevator conversations. You can follow her on Twitter at @LadyLabVIEW.