Some Of My Thoughts For The New Year: Some Warm Fuzzies
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting @bachovski over lunch, and naturally, both of us being force.com developers, our discussions revolved heavily around the platform; what particularly intrigued me was that our opinions of the platform, and developing for it, were very similar.
My programming adventures started when I was around 5 years old, writing procedures in Atari LOGO on my father's Atari 800 and I was instantly hooked. My dad was a programmer for a considerable part of his career (in the mystical era of punch cards which still holds a particular fascination for me) and he then started teaching me to use BASIC on the Atari 1040 STE*. From there it was a natural progression through QBASIC, VisualBasic and onwards. Shortly prior to attending university I began to teach myself C++, and while there I continued this along side the JAVA lectures that formed part of our syllabus. Once I started working in the real world™ I found myself using C, and today I'll still tell you that it's my favourite language - I particularly enjoy the simultaneous simplicity and power it offers the developer (as well as the ease which with you can shoot yourself in the foot of course).
If you ask me these days what my favourite platform is, then the simple answer is that it is force.com. Developing in the cloud is worlds apart from developing for small handheld devices, it still amuses me to think of the difference between the two areas I've worked (and do) work in. When I initially started working on the platform it was as a contractor, and specifically I wanted to be on a contract because I wasn't sure of what I wanted to do, but over two years down the line I'm still here and enjoying it more than ever. It may sound surprising (coming from a developer at least) but it's actually refreshing to be able to do a good proportion of work without a single line of code. Not having to worry about servers, database setup or even maintenance are just the icing (frosting for some of you!) on the cake, and we're talking about some thick icing here. Being a true cloud platform means the speed of development is unrivalled, you can spin up a new developer edition org in a matter of seconds and have a prototype cut in no time — and this is one of the many things Boris and I discussed. Once you've learned the specifics regarding apex and Visualforce (and that's not hard) then it all just flows naturally, and it all just works.
The current focus on the social enterprise is a breath of fresh air, and although he has his detractors, Marc Benioff is likely the leading visionary in the tech industry at this time; Salesforce is forging a path in a new direction, and the frontier is advanced with each new release which makes for a very exciting ride. Sure, it probably sounds like I've drunk the kool aid, but I'm genuinely enjoying what I do and the technology I work with (with the possible exception of using Eclipse, because as far as I'm concerned JAVA is not the right choice for any desktop application).
2012 is shaping up to be a very interesting year in many respects from my point of view: Haiku is marching ever onwards and can only benefit from the shift to the SaaS model, The Raspberry Pi looks promising as a means of bringing computer science back into the class room (I can't wait to get a couple of boards), and the power of the community is getting ever stronger thanks to sites such as StackOverflow and its sisters.
Particularly close to my heart is the local games development community, the Australian talent has endured some heavy blows in recent years but they're fighting back with vigour. Highly-skilled, independent studios are springing up left, right and centre alongside some of the more established companies, and with both IGDAM and the GDAA watching out for them I hope they all enjoy a prosperous and successful year.
*I still hold a strong fondness for Atari (the original company) and those two machines in particular; they're both fully functional and I still love to get lost in Star Raiders on the rare occasions I am at my parent's house. If you've never played it, you should.