Blog: Apps - The second cycle of the two stroke nature of software
Fond memories of high school are different to most people in that I was one of the first computer nerds back in the day. Living in a disadvantaged area, rewarded my school with a room full of the first computers. Lines of Basic code had myself and the other nerds enthralled every lunch hour with the most basic games, calculations and even one of the first viruses concocted.
The first upstroke - Central "server" computing
Since then my career ventured mostly by accident into the early multi-user Unix computer systems. A central computer supplied early, but powerful account systems and word processing to any number of "dumb" terminals. The wonderful nature of these systems, was the central storage of information, central back up, one single server to update with new software. The only apparent down side was that the "dumb" computer terminals screens came in two colours Amber and Green. Not both colours, but one OR the other :-)
Explosion and the Windows power stroke distributes power and "Solitaire"
Watching the rise of the Microsoft from the loosing sideline was a little depressing, but despite the protests and the odd egg thrown, people and businesses where demanding a computer on every desktop, taking space, distributing information - productivity took a down turn due to the regular "blue screens" of MS Windows and the Solitaire game. Information was lost regularly when a desktop computer failed and no back up were made. Never mind security - The desktop wave had virtually none - compared to the server based forbearers. If you were a PC tech - business was never better solving drama after drama.
The 2nd cycle and as the Internet returns software to "Top Dead Centre"
See the Internet for the first time was like witnessing the second coming, one line at a time a photo served from the University of Hawaii painted on a large X screen at QUT. The future had arrived and instantly the power was apparent. Application (App) developers like me installed turned to early web languages like Perl and Cold Fusion. I forked toward Microsoft's relatively stable "Active Server Pages". For anyone technical or thoughtful enough could easily see the return of the power and benefits of central "server" computing. Internet servers stored information centrally, complete back ups could be done and supported by the service provider. Security was as tight as you made it. Apps for business, commerce and pleasure could be extended effortlessly from the central server computer to anywhere within reach of the Internet. Life could not be better and in a way it was a win for the "server computing" fans sidelined for about 10 years.
These days all the really powerful business systems supplying global computing are web based apps like Xero, your Internet Banking to customer management systems like SalesForce.
Stroke two and the explosive take up of Smart Phones leads to distributed "app" power.
Since the late Steve Jobs stood on stage and revealed the first iphone with its ability to house "apps" the applause has been ongoing, particularly since we can download Solitaire and have it in our pocket now anywhere. There is no question about the power and desire of Apps. The power and reliability of the Ios and Android is actually pretty good (exit Windows phone). Apps have their down sides too. Sometimes loose your phone means loose your data, though cloud back up should have you covered. With now 2 billion odd smart phones in circulation, we love our iPhone, or like our Android, but slave to constant updates and lost for connection and data when they take some down time.
The now obsession with online connection has given rise to a new generation of ideas, business motives, app concepts and a screaming for function to make our lives even more integrated. The solution lies in the power of the "app" whether delivered by phone app or web app - just as long as we get the answer instantly.
Written by John Nayler
Wednesday 20 Jun 2018