Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: LeanTaaS Blog, Kevin Jackson, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Larry Alton

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Blog Post

3GL vs. 5GL Custom Web Application Development

Software Generational Languages

I read a great article today in which Sinclair Shuller makes an argument for traditional 3GL’s (.NET, Java) versus “new” 4GL (force.com) and 5GL (workxpress.com) platforms. In fact, he questions whether these platforms are more akin to the old Microsoft Frontpage product, which practically speaking, never did much to change website coding.

Let me start by saying up front that I've devoted 10 years of my life to building exactly the type of new platform that he argues against. In fact, we consider it to be a 5th generation development language (5GL) platform for custom web application development. We’ve seen many commercial successes with it, so I make my counter points below with years of practical customer engagements to back me up.

Given that disclaimer, I genuinely think the article and argument was good, and brought up many valid points. I'm writing (I hope constructively!) because where his argument lost strength was when he framed the choice as an "either-or" choice.

There are two fundamental issues to consider when deciding whether a 3GL or a 5GL should be chosen for a particular custom development project and when speculating as to which approach will ultimately “win” the debate.

The first fundamental issue one needs to consider when offering a 3GL solution is simply “what does the customer say?”  Remember, there is a large and underserved SMB market out there, shouting loudly for better and more affordable software solutions. Although representing 40% of the market, these folks have been mostly ignored for decades, simply because 3GL’s couldn’t deliver the flexibility, cost reduction and deployment speed these customers demand.

The second fundamental concern is one of vision, and progress; when one applies some forward vision, do we really think that where we are today is going to be the right way for tomorrow? Are we stuck with our current set of development languages forever?  Obviously, that’s ridiculous, and it is really just a question of who is going to realize competitive advantage by adopting the newer tools first.

Do customers “require” 3GL tools?

The truth is that there are a lot of business cases that demand speed of deployment, cost reduction and flexibility more than they demand fine tuned control over possibly trivial details. I could cite many actual customer examples. In these cases, a 5GL PaaS approach is the only approach that fits those needs, and the 3GL approach to custom web application development strictly does not.

And that’s not to mention ISVs. Folks who want to build a business around a piece of software they publish have some very serious hurdles to overcome when building on a 3GL. When potential ISVs choose a platform as a base, they become free to focus on building a business, and can worry less about technology.

What a 5GL PaaS does in those examples is give the customer or ISV software they simply couldn't practically deploy under "older" 3GL models. When faced with a choice of getting the software they need within their budgets and time frames, versus not getting any software at all, the 5GL approach will win every time.

And it’s not just SMBs or ISVs that are demanding a more successful approach then what 3GL’s have been able to deliver; if you talk with any enterprise CIO they will get a sour face while telling you how unsuccessful 3GL’s have been within their organization.  One CIO once told me that for every dollar they budgeted, they ended up needing to spend $7 to actually get the thing to work. Reference the Chaos report (http://www1.standishgroup.com/newsroom/chaos_2009.php ) in which only 1 in 3 projects have completed successfully.

Do we really think yesterday’s solution is still going to be tomorrow’s?

The second issue here is one of "vision". In just about any industry, the evolution is for simpler to use, faster and more affordable products (think rotary land-line versus iPhone). Why should software development be any different?  If it were possible to deliver better/faster/cheaper/simpler/easier without sacrificing sophistication, isn't it obvious that is the future of software development?

My point is that while the examples Sinclair cited of how force.com didn’t live up to its billing because it required programmers but yet didn’t deliver full programmatic control are credible examples, tools like WorkXpress are nevertheless pushing the boundaries of 5GL sophistication, and addressing those types of issues.

In other words, even today 5GLs are being chosen over 3GLs by real-world customers, because they are the best tool to solve real-world problems. So if that’s happening today, how much more so is it likely to happen tomorrow?

The utopian vision of a 5GL is clearly better than what we get with 3GLs of today, it really is just a matter of time until that vision becomes a reality.  And if so, what is the point of arguing for 3GL’s when they aren’t even the right tool to solve a particular need?

I wonder what the 1GL and 2GL people said when 3GLs started to emerge? The 3GL folks eventually won that debate, time will tell if the 5GL folks will win this one.

More Stories By Treff LaPlante

Treff LaPlante has been involved with technology for nearly 20 years. At WorkXpress, he passionately drives the vision of making customized enterprise software easy, fast, and affordable.

Prior to joining WorkXpress, Treff was director of operations for eBay's HomesDirect. While there, he created strategic relationships with Fortune 500 companies and national broker networks and began his foray into the development of flexible workflow software technologies. He served on the management team that sold HomesDirect to eBay.

During his time at Vivendi-Universal Interactive, Treff was director of strategy. In addition to M&A activities, Treff broadly applied quantitative management principles to sales, marketing, and product line functions. Treff served as the point person for the management team that sold Cendant Software to Vivendi-Universal. Earlier positions included product management and national sales trainer for Energy Design Systems, an engineering software company. Treff began his professional career as a metals trader for Randall Trading Corp, a commodities firm that specialized in bartering and transporting various metals and coal from the then-dissolving Soviet Union.

Treff received his MBA from Pepperdine University and a BS in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. http://www.workxpress.com

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...